Oct 13, 2009
Although October 22 is the official publication day of Restoring a House in the City, there was a preview party for the book at the Minima furniture gallery in Philadelphia last Friday as part of the wonderful citywide Design Philadelphia festival. This year, the organizers announced a window display contest. Imagine my delight when I came upon the front window of Minima–the entire vitrine was inspired by Restoring a House in the City. A young designer, Amy York, create the window display which included an 18th century mantel, a damask-patterned mosaic, antique shutters hanging from the ceiling, a copy of Restoring a House in the City perched on a Maarten Baas Smoke chair, and a lightbox floor covered with strips of reclaimed wood. Inside the store, piles of the book were stacked inside wooden crates.
I have a chapter in my book entitled Minimalonialism, which tells the story of the renovation of a Colonial home in Philadelphia’s Society Hill by Minima’s designers. The owners, Andrew Hohns and Leah Popowich, had seen an exhibit at MInima several years ago, also called Minimalonialism, which made the case for combining modern furnishings and antique spaces. They gave Eugenie and Michael the chance to put their ideas into practice.
Friday night, Minima hosted a book signing and slideshow lecture in their gorgeous tri-level space in Old City. They did it (like everything they do) with great style–good wine, Red Stripe beer, and a beautiful hors-d’oeuvres table with pate and tea sandwiches. The room, with its exquisitely curated furniture by the likes of Jaime Hayon and Jasper Morrison, was packed–even once the lecture started. The book’s photographer, Brian Park, came down from New York and talked about shooting the book on film and answered questions, as did I. I especially loved meeting some of Philadelphia’s creative class, who seem to orbit around Eugenie and Michael: people with talent to spare like artist Candy Depew, furniture designer John Bolle, and the sculptor Todd Noe.
Afterward, a few of us gathered at Andrew and Leah’s home. It was like the book come to life! It was unseasonably warm so we stepped outside and enjoyed the view of the neighboring row houses, with I. M. Pei’s Society Hill Towers as the backdrop. Magical.
A couple of other highlights from the trip: checking out Northern Liberties, the groovy Philly neighborhood that is filled with affordable old houses; the Bicycle exhibit at Moore College of Art and Design; and, believe it or not, the wild video wall in the lobby of the Comcast Center.
Thank you again to Eugenie and Michael, Amy, Andrew and Leah!