Urbanspace Interiors, a shop and interior design firm in downtown Austin is the subject of this month’s Design Store(y) column. Originally a real estate company founded by Kevin Burns, Urbanspace branched into design when Emily Basham-Hoelscher joined the firm. The airy space showcases a colorful mix of modern furniture, accessories, textiles, and lighting by established and up-and-coming designers.
Why did you pick this city and neighborhood?
There’s nowhere like the urban core of Austin. It has its own individual flavor, personality, and sense of opportunity. The inspiration drawn from having your showroom in the heart of this great city is endless. Our showroom is also housed at the crossroads of a number of vibrant downtown districts. The Whole Foods Market global HQ is across the street, we are a stone’s throw from our gorgeous Lady Bird Lake, and in the center of the best condo and residential neighborhoods of Austin’s urban core. We feel like we are in the perfect place to engage with our community and inspire Austin with modern design.
Where did you get the name for the store?
We opened the furniture store in 2009 under a different brand, but in 2011 we decided to officially merge with the Urbanspace brand that was established a decade prior. We realized what an incredible opportunity we had to combine the interiors and furniture business with our original real estate business. We are able to take our clients from securing the perfect place, to customizing their space, to helping them embrace living in our amazing downtown neighborhood.
Has it changed much since then? How?
Our showroom is always evolving, and we are constantly working to find new lines for our collection; pieces that are new to Austin, to Texas, and sometimes to the USA. Recently, we have introduced a number of incredibly talented up-and-coming New York City- and Austin-based designers and artisans. Overall, we believe that modern design should be eclectic, warm, and speak to the many parts of your personality. We pair high-end European design with pieces from local artists. We want to keep it fresh and not only cherish long-standing design brands, but help uncover what’s around the corner in the design world.
What’s one of the challenges you’ve had with the business?
We’re a very small team, which is good in that we are incredibly passionate and devoted to what we do and what we bring to the marketplace. However, it’s challenging to be pulled in a number of different directions at once, between the showroom, website, and interior design projects. It’s not an unusual day to be working on new blog posts and website improvements, a residential kitchen remodel, a new restaurant design, meeting with potential new lines for the showroom, and hosting a team of architects and designers for happy hour in our space. All in one day! Juggling everything can be a challenge for us, but each day is different and never boring!
What other stores have you worked in before opening this one?
I worked in retail shops while I was in design school in the late 1990s, and I had my own interior design business for several years. Urbanspace Interiors has given me the perfect setting to create my dream job. I’ve been able to search the world for amazing design (both online and in real life travels) to help create an inspirational showroom for our clients, co-design a beautiful e-commerce website, and work on countless residential and commercial interiors over the last five years. I am truly grateful that this is my job.
What’s your favorite item in the store right now?
That’s a tough one. It’s probably a tie between our Pig Table by Moooi, which is our unofficial Urbanspace mascot, and captures the whimsical essence of our showroom, and the Tacchini Dressed sofa, which sums up how we think contemporary design should feel–warm, inviting, and like you’ve met your furniture soul mate.
What is this season’s inspiration?
We just got our first cool front in Austin, and fall always inspires texture. I love getting to play with amazing woven fabrics from Maharam and Knoll, as well as incredible pillows and throws from Missoni Home and Tabula Rasa. It’s also the perfect time to hang out and relax outside, so it always inspires me in creating outdoor spaces.
Are you carrying any new products and/or undiscovered gems you’re particularly excited about?
This year we brought some new lines to Austin by young, up-and-coming designers mostly based out of NYC, including Gabriel Scott, Bec Brittain, Inigo Elizalde, and Tabula Rasa. We also love our local creatives who make such cool stuff, like Matthew Winters’ Light Boxes (Y’ALL is a crowd favorite down here in Texas, although DANG is mine). Also, Eagle’s Nest Artistry’s live-edge tables made from reclaimed trees here in Austin—even Pecan Trees from Zilker Park.
What’s been a consistent best seller?
Consistent best seller hands down is Missoni Home. We have the exclusive rights to market the line in Austin but it’s not just a best seller locally. Missoni Home is also the best seller on our nationally reaching e-commerce site. Clients and customers also love accessories from Seletti and imm Living. They have such cool pieces that bring a big smile to your face and a playful wink to your home decor. Furniture wise, the Tacchini Dressed Sofa and Moroso Fjord Ottomans are always favorites, along with the stunning and sculptural Matthew Hilton Light Extending Table.
Does the store have its own line?
We make custom pieces all the time, and our own collection is the next step that we can’t wait to get into. We’ve spent the last few years learning what is already existing in the marketplace and talking to our customers about what they need. We want our collection to be a creative expression of who we are as a brand, as well as really fill the void we feel exists. The first step has been the Commuter Bike Rack, which was designed in-house, along with the industrial designers at Austin’s Sarabi Studio. We wanted to create something that was first and foremost incredibly functional and efficient, since many of our clients live in condos and need somewhere to store their bike and helmet outside of the parking garage and condo foyer. Naturally, we also wanted it to be beautiful and an integrated into the overall design elements of a home.
Any special events coming up?
Our showroom is such a visually exciting space, and we lend it to local members of the community to host private events throughout the year. We also use the showroom for customer appreciation events, pop-up art installations, and parties surrounding Austin events such as Formula One, Austin City Limits festival, and South by Southwest Interactive and Music festival.
Do you have anything from the store in your own home?
Heck yes. In my home, I have Missoni in my bedroom and bathroom, as well as some accessories from DL & Co., imm Living, and Seletti. I also have a Moroso side table, and I’m saving for the perfect Moroso Lounge chair.