People, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Carolyn Sewell Interview

You can’t walk down the street without seeing a sign.  Signs are there to inform or instruct you, to get you to stop, go and yield to pedestrians. But what good do these signs do if they are difficult to read, provide an unclear message, or get lost in the peripheral?  Graphic design was established as a result of these glaring errors, and developed a universally recognized profession in which people are trained to convey a message, to a target audience, while following the principles of design.  However, the profession has outgrown the average political advertisement and cereal box, and now is an appreciated art form.

Award-winning designer and blogger, Carolyn Sewell, displayed her yearlong project Postcards To My Parents at The Fathom Gallery this September. Every day from July 23, 2009 to July 23, 2010 she sent hand-drawn postcards to her parents with messages of love and adoration, snarky quotes from friends, family and television, and the occasional drawing of a gnome.  Sewell currently resides in Arlington, VA and shares creative (and sometimes not so creative) graphic design with the masses on her blog Pedestrian Typography.

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The Features

A We Love DC Interview: r:u

“u:board Sample”;  r:u, 2010

In December of 2009, I graduated from The George Washington University with a Graduate degree in Interior Design.  During my schooling I learned that it takes a lot of hard work to become an Interior Designer.  Just having phenomenal taste and being really, really good at tearing out magazine spreads doesn’t cut it anymore.  Now you have to be able to sketch, compose sections, build models, create 3-D renderings, and even pass your NCIDQ exam if you want to be taken seriously.

When I heard about the DC-based design team of residents:understood, I just knew that I had to get them on WLDC.  Not only can the firm do all of the above, but they also do it in a really unconventional way.  I caught up with the three principles of residents:understood, Kiera Kushlan, James Wall, and Jessica Centella, and got all of the insider tips for how to create the perfect “personality-driven design” while living in D.C.

We Love DC: What is residents:understood?

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The Daily Feed


NYU-DC, Facade Rendering.  Courtesy of Hickock Cole Architects.

A lot of universities’ have academic hubs in D.C., but none have one quite like this.  This month, Hickock Cole Architects will break ground on a brand new academic center for New York University on L Street, NW.  NYU’s new Constance Milstein and Family Academic Center, also known as NYU-DC, will be a 12-story building with academic space and six floors of dormitories.

The new building is also aiming for LEED Gold.

NYU-DC will be located at 1307 L St, NW.

The Daily Feed

Museum Plans Revised

Proposed Model via Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup

The design concept for the National Museum of African American History and Culture has been revised, and the building will now be 17 percent smaller than the original architectural plan.  Although the building will be smaller, according to The Washington Post, the edited design was “favorably reviewed by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC)”.

The architecture team of Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup won the contract to design and build the museum in April 2009, and the Smithsonian museum will be located at Constitution Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW.  Construction is expected to begin in 2012.

The museum will be the last Smithsonian museum to be built on the National Mall.

Click here and here to learn more about the planned project from NCPC.

Interviews, The Features

A We Love DC Interview: Spotlight On Design

Tadao Ando, March 2, 2002.  Image Courtesy of the National Building Museum.

Since 1997, the National Building Museum has been offering professionals, tourists, and aficionados the opportunity to hear some of the most distinguished architects and designers in the world speak about their passion.  Paul Kilmer, Director of Public Programs, introduces the Spotlight on Design speaker series as an occasion to “celebrate an architect, designer or firm, and give them the opportunity to share with us the significance of their work – celebrating design innovation”.  Furthermore, it allows us to “demonstrate how critical and important good design is to quality of life”, says Kilmer.  Past speakers have included Pritzker Prize Laureates, American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medalists, and the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Medal recipients.

Oh how I would have given anything to be a fly on the wall when Tadao Ando presented!

In the spirit of the Spotlight on Design speakers series, We Love DC chats with Martin Moeller, the Senior Vice President and Curator of the National Building Museum, who gave us some details about the makings of the wildly popular lecture program and how he feels about design and architecture in D.C.

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The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Interview with MIJA

Image Credit: MIJA Jewelry

In less than four years, Michelle Guest has turned her passion for art and jewelry design into a thriving business.  MIJA Jewelry is literally everywhere, and has graced the pages of almost every fashion magazine and tabloid – decorating a truly A-list clientele (Gwenyth Paltrow and Ellen Pompeo are huge fans).  In this We Love DC exclusive interview, the designer and Glover Park resident lets us know a little bit more about what makes her collection special and where she goes to find inspiration in her very own backyard.

We Love DC: What is MIJA?

Michelle Guest: MIJA is a combination of the first two letters of my name (MIchelle) and the first two letters of my sister’s name (JAni). My sister was the one who really inspired me to start the business by creating a collection of children’s jewelry.  The company has since expanded and now also features a huge collection [of] women’s jewelry.  She really encouraged me to jump into a business I initially knew nothing about.  If it was not for her, I’m not sure I would have ever done it!

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Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, The Daily Feed, The District, The Great Outdoors, The Mall

DC Crafts: Find Of The Day

Photo courtesy of
’10-4-4 – Cherry Blossoms – Warm Blossoms’
courtesy of ‘mosley.brian’

Last night’s premiere of TopChefDC, filmed in April, has me thinking back to the cooler days of spring when the city was infiltrated with tourists on their yearly pilgrimages to see the cherry blossom.  While I long for the chillier weather and the beautiful, cotton candy cherry blossoms, I’m good with our present normal levels of tourists.

Today’s DC Craft lets you add a little bit of cherry blossom to your abode with this reinterpreted cherry blossom vinyl wall decal. The wall decoration comes in 17 potential colors, and features a series of 4 birds perched on blooming branches.  Chose pink for the branches, and you’ve got a DC-centric piece of wall art.

Business and Money, Essential DC, History, Life in the Capital, The Daily Feed

DC Crafts: Find Of The Day

Washington DC Thermometer

courtesy of junquetart

The past week’s weather was a clear indicator that summer is in full swing in the DC metro area. Which makes me ponder how miserable living and working in DC must have been without AC. The image that immediately comes to mind is a large ice block in front of a fan. So today’s DC Crafts: Find Of The Day focuses on recording our sky high temperatures, and oddly enough today’s item is from circa 1950, when residential usage of AC was exploding.

Although today’s item, a pot metal Washington DC Thermometer, doesn’t accurately portray the layout of DC, I’m loving that it smushes the Jefferson Memorial, Capital and Washington Monument together to create a DC skyline. Also, always put a thermometer on the Washington Monument. Always. You gotta love this thermometer; it’s functional and design friendly piece that any lover of DC would love to add to their collection.

Adventures, Business and Money, The Daily Feed

DC Crafts: Find Of The Day

Photo courtesy of
‘God’s Eyes’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

Maybe it’s the hot and humid weather, or maybe it’s because I feel like the city scene has been a little lethargic over the last few months, but I think we’re in need of some daily, local craftiness to inspire us to greatness.

So here it is. Today’s DC Craft of the Day comes to us from Etsy seller ksickles, who’s Washington DC  Metro Area Glass Tile Pendant will allow you to “Declare your love for Washington DC” and the surrounding hoods of Rockville, Baltimore, Annapolis, Alexandria and Arlington. FYI: The pendant is not waterproof, so no jumping in the Potomac with it on.

The Daily Feed

We Love DC’s Design Challenge

Photo courtesy of
‘Woodrow Wilson House HDR’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

So you need some interior decorating assistance?  No worries, We Love DC has got you covered.

We are teaming up this month with the District’s Anderson ReDesign to give one lucky reader the chance to get some FREE and super-helpful decorating advice from a professional.  All you have to do is send me [samantha{at}] a photograph of your space, it could be your favorite – or – one that is seeking immediate attention, and Anderson ReDesign will give one lucky reader the opportunity to learn how to spruce it up!

Only one photograph per person please. Participant will be contacted via e-mail.

[Note: The winning assessment will be shared on our site at a later date]

The Daily Feed

Thomas O’Brien at the Corcoran Tonight

Photo courtesy of
‘Corcoran Gallery of Art’
courtesy of ‘dcjasmine’

Tonight at 7 PM, interior designer Thomas O’Brien will be giving a talk at the Corcoran, discussing his new book American Modern (Abrams, 2010), a survey of seven of his most influential projects.  O’Brien is the founder and President of Aero Studios, one of America’s most influential design firms, and Aero, it’s home goods boutique in NYC.  Furthermore, he has created a line of home furnishings and bedding called “Vintage Modern” for Target, designed a fittings collection for Waterworks, and has been featured in numerous publications such as Elle Decor, House Beautiful and Architectural Digest.

I hope to see you there!

A book signing will follow the talk.

Interviews, People, The Features

A We Love DC Interview: ArchitectDesign

Image Credit: National City, Stefan Hurray of ArchitectDesign

D.C. is home to its share of blogs and bloggers, and our passions cover a wide range of topics.  Residential architect, Stefan Hurray of ArchitectDesign focuses his writing on architecture, design, and travel – often times, sharing with loyal readers some of the inspiration he finds in his very own backyard (i.e. Logan Circle).

Hurray recently shared with me his passion for architecture, design, and of course, D.C.

We Love DC: What is ArchitectDesign?

Stefan Hurray: A visual diary of places I find inspiring. It might be something I’ve visited myself or the occasional magazine story.

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The Daily Feed

Washington Iconic Structures

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Skigle’

The National Building Museum is opening a new exhibit called A Century of Design: The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 1910-2010. The CFA advises the President and Congress on “matters of design and aesthetics” that affect government buildings and the preservation of national monuments.  On display from May 15 through July 18, the new exhibit will pay homage to the influential role that the CFA has had on 10 major projects in D.C. – from the Lincoln Memorial to even our beloved (or loathed, depends on the day) Metro System.

In commemoration of the exhibit, on May 19th from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, the National Building Museum will co-host Power, Architecture, and Politics: The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the Design of Washington – a symposium that will further explore the essence and influence of the CFA.

The Daily Feed

Architecture and Design on Film

Photo courtesy of
‘AFI Seats’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

The Initiative for Architecture and Design on Film will be screening the latest documentary, Contemporary Days: Robin and Lucienne Day Design the UK. Robin and Lucienne Day transformed British design after World War II with modern furnishings and abstract textiles, yet, all the while remaining sensible in their approach.  The film follows the Day’s personal and professional lives over the course of their careers – spanning more than 70 years.

The film premieres at 7:30 PM on May 15 at the National Geographic Museum’s Grosvenor Auditorium, and a question and answer session with Directory Murray Grigor and Cinematographer Hamid Shams will follow the screening.

Tickets must be purchased in advance!

History, The District, The Features

Behind the Design: National Press Club

Photo courtesy of
‘National Press Club #27′
courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

The National Press Club, rich in historical context and paramount in its mission, is best-known as a retreat for the affiliates within the journalism industry. As a Washington, D.C. fixture, the feeling evoked upon entrance into the Club could best be compared to the dilemma that a young child may face as they enter the formal living room of the home – you are in complete awe of its presence and utterly afraid of breaking something, yet, somehow still manage to want to touch everything in sight.

The good thing is that what differs between this presented scenario and that of my first visit to the National Press Club, is that at the Club exploration is not only encouraged – it is celebrated.

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The Daily Feed

A Property Update…

Photo courtesy of
‘C&O at twilight’
courtesy of ‘brownpau’

In January 2012 (although these dates are never quite as fluid as they yearn to be) Georgetown will become home to a new and ultra exclusive hotel.  Capella Hotels and Resorts, which currently have six properties across the world and are slated to add five more -including the DC property,  will be redeveloping the old American Trial Lawyers Association building at 1050 31st Street NW, which borders the historic C&O Canal.  The Capella Georgetown will feature 48 guest rooms and suites, a restaurant, lounge, executive boardroom, rooftop pool and bar, and full-service spa.

From the look of the 5-story rendering, the plans for the hotel’s design looks like it will fit right in with its surrounding landscape.  I just wonder if The Capella Georgetown will get the interior right.  No more extravagantly ornate details, dated color-schemes, or uber-modern finishes please!

An architect and designer have not yet been selected for the project.

Read more about this property update and see the rendering in the Washington Business Journal.

The Daily Feed

Spring Trends via M29 Lifestyle

Image Credit: M29 Lifestyle for We Love DC

Another spring trend report coming your way…

This time our exclusive We Love DC look comes from the new “lifestyle boutique” in Georgetown, M29 Lifestyle.  The newest store to hit M Street is best described as kitschy and cool – carrying an assortment of gift items, home decor, and apparel with a unique focus on the artists and designers behind all of these hand-selected pieces. Everything about M29 Lifestyle is appealing to the eye, even the store itself is designed in such a fashion where natural light streams in from floor-to-celling windows and items are presented in a breezy, atelier-style way.

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The Features

Behind the Design: Sweetgreen

Photo courtesy of
‘Sweetgreen #14′
courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

A bit over a year ago, as I was sitting in my Institutional Design Studio, I was flipping through my favorite magazine – Metropolis – when I came across a feature story on Georgetown’s Sweetgreen.  I was in awe of the historic retrofit, the building used to house the Little Tavern hamburger ‘hut’, in conjunction with its eco-friendly and streamlined interior – I knew that as soon as class was over I would be off towards M Street in order to explore further. Could it be true? Does a piece of design paradise exist with-in a 460-square foot envelope just down the street from me?

Fast-forward a year later, to yesterday actually, where my investigation of Sweetgreen continued with Nic Jammet, one of the restaurants three owners (the others are Jonathan Neman and Nathaniel Ru), at their newest location in Logan Circle.

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The Daily Feed

Blossom! A Design Challenge

Photo courtesy of
’09-3-31 – Cherry Blossoms – Pink and Yellow’
courtesy of ‘mosley.brian’

Who doesn’t love a good design challenge? Especially one that has to do with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The Festival is seeking amateur designers from the metro-DC area to showcase their creativity through the design of an original graphic creation using the blossom for inspiration.  Entries will be judged by a distinguished panel of four, which will include Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation and Antonio Alcalá of Studio A – to name a few.  The winner will receive $5,000 in tuition prize, via Shiseido, to Westwood College School of Design. The “People’s Choice” winner will be awarded $250.00 in prize money too!

The winning design will be featured at the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Cherry Blast: A Night of Contemporary Art + Music on Friday, April 2.

The contest is running now through March 26, 2010.  Learn more about the challenge here.

The Daily Feed

Architecture Beat – Francis Gregory Library in SE


Credit: Exterior Rendering by Adjaye Associates

Having the ‘coolest’ library in the neighborhood is not far fetched for those living in SE. Just released are a few renderings by Adjaye Associates, whom, in collaboration with Wiencek Associates, have developed quite an interesting design for the Francis Gregory Library. Libraries seem to be all the rage when it comes to design lately (check out the Agave Library in Phoenix) so it’s quite nice to see DC sharing some of the attention.  I am pretty sure though that not everyone will be pleased with this addition to the DC architectural scene. What do you think?

See more renderings thanks to DC Metrocentric.