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Best of the Twin Cities 2011

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The faces, places, and sources making an impact on the home design front


Design Star: Robb Whittlef

Since his Great Estate days, Robb Whittlef (pictured) has been on the move, literally. Between meetings with local and L.A. clients, the designer flies monthly to Belgium or Poland, where he connects with his Bobo Intriguing Objects design team to develop pieces for their private label and for Restoration Hardware. Like a friendlier version of Flipping Out’s Jeff Lewis, Whittlef is a hardworking guy who’s constantly consulting, creating, and writing (he has two books in the works). Plus he’s filming his own pilot–stay tuned for details. We’re thrilled this jet-setter set up his new Historic Studio space in Minneapolis. Inside are vignettes of what Whitleff calls “refined eclecticism,” mixing antiques, worldly accents, and custom furniture. (Fancy a 10-foot tufted lavender couch?) It’s a sensory-overload experience that’s to the trade/appointment only, but keep your fingers crossed for a sale in early 2012 that will be open to the public. Could Whittlef for Target be in our future? Let’s just say there have been discussions. Historic Studio, 4950 W. 35th St., Mpls., 952-933-9924, historicstudio.com

Local Collaboration: Room & Board + Bell Manufacturing

Minneapolis-based Room & Board continues to wow, and we appreciate that so many of its goods (more than 90 percent) are American-made. We adore its steel designs and the fact that each piece is the product of a strong collaboration with brother-and-sister-run, Golden Valley–based Bell Manufacturing. The family company takes recycled American steel and recreates it into sleek bed frames, tables, and bookcases for look-good, feel-good furniture. 7010 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-927-8835, roomandboard.com

Garden Evolution: Wise Acre Eatery

When the guys behind Tangletown Gardens opened a restaurant next door, it was bound to take indoor-outdoor décor to a new dimension. We love Wise Acre Eatery's turf out front, the greenery inside, the wood bar, and the arty lightbulbs. Having a glass of organic wine here is true escapism. 5401 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-354-2577, wiseacreeatery.com

Hand-Crafted Furniture: Lucero Studio

Bill Costello and Mark Bouchard—architect and craftsman, respectively—caught our attention with their modern, angular furniture. The design duo makes everything by hand in Minneapolis and is constantly developing new products for their Lucero line of wood, glass, and steel furniture and accessories. lucerostudio.com

Salvage Venue: Architectural Antiques

If you need a historic mantel or a period chandelier, Architectural Antiques is a must. But the venue also has become an intimate backdrop for weddings and the very cool site for Northern Grade–a pop-up shop where local companies such as Pierrepont Hicks and Faribault Woolen Mills showcase ties, blankets, and more (the clawfoot tub full of beer bottles was a nice touch). 1330 NE Quincy St., Mpls., 612-332-8344, archantiques.com

Wallpaper Source: Hirshfield’s

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Wallpaper is here to stay like premium denim. We’re lucky to have so many sources and showrooms offering the best of it here in the Twin Cities, but we have to hand it to Hirshfield’s for staying atop the trends—offering digital and custom photo paper, commercial wall coverings, and of-the-moment patterns and textures. Twenty-three locations including 721 2nd Ave. N., Mpls., 612-374-8901, hirshfields.com

Dose Of Turquoise: Victory

Linden Hills got a lovely shot of glamour with the recent makeover at Victory, where chandeliers gleam, Madeline Weinrib fabrics dot the walls, and everything is painted inside and out in a perfect, gorgeous turquoise. 3505 W. 44th St., Mpls., 612-926-8200, shopvictory.com

New Showroom: AJ Maison

Brenda and Fritz Westphal are pros at curating a classy selection of bright, colorful textiles, wall coverings, and furnishings. They’ve opened a to-the-trade showroom called AJ Maison (named after their daughters Addison and Julia) with offerings by the likes of Zoffany, Patricia Edwards, and S&L ironwork, all priced affordably less than at sister store Scherping Westphal next door. International Market Square, 612-339-1747, aj-maison.com>

10 To Know

Fabric Outlet: SR Harris

Crazy big and unbelievably cheap, this Brooklyn Park warehouse is an upholstery secret among local designers and stylists. 8865 Zealand Ave. N., Brooklyn Park, 763-424-3500, srharrisfabric.com

Place to Scour: St. Paul Retro Loop

From Mad Men to Hollywood glam décor, you’ll find it at this group of retailers. stpaulretroloop.blogspot.com

Modern Displays: ID Inside Design

Fab vignettes of modern furnishings and accessories with designer Greg Walsh’s very cool point of view. 212 3rd Ave. N., Mpls., 612-317-0045, id-insidedesign.com

Tabletop: Ampersand

Barbara Armajani’s impeccable taste makes this a tableware treasure trove. Galleria, 952-920-2118, ampersandshops.com

Antiques: Melrose Antiques

In addition to vintage, find gasp-worthy antiques from luggage to bedroom sets. 13 NE 5th St., Mpls., 612-362-8480

Nordic: Finn Style

Bright, bold, sophisticated Scandinavian designs. 160 Glenwood Ave., Mpls., 612-333-2127, finnstyle.com

Classic Furniture: Baker Knapp & Tubbs

Good grown-up furniture that’s chic and comfy for every generation. Open to the public for browsing. International Market Square, 612-341-2906

Kitchen Knife Sharpener: Eversharp

Joe Gamache has sharpened more than 1 million knives and offers classes on slicing, cutting, and handling in his Northeast Minneapolis store. 344 NE Taft St., Mpls., 612-379-1300, eversharpknives.com

Gifts: Anthropologie

A must for happy kitchen accessories as well as hostess and teacher gifts. Four metro locations including 4999 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-285-9164, anthropologie.com

Modern Accessories: ROAM

With a sleek new storefront, this hot spot is bursting with home accents and gift ideas. 2941 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-377-6465, roaminteriors.com



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