Friday Five with Larson Shores

Joshua Larson and Carrie Shores of Oakland, CA architecture firm Larson Shores have been busy. They’ve recently completed a funky modern, mixed-use coffee bar and Asian furniture gallery, Monkey Forest Road Cafe and Gallery. Now, Joshua is the middle of a full scale renovation and interiors project in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. Carrie is helping to revive an Oakland institution, the New Parkway Theater, which leased space in an old warehouse in the city, by developing their new floor plans and conceptualizing the transformation of the facade. This week’s Friday Five is a mix of what inspires the duo, separately and as a team.

Joshua and Carrie both love DZINE, a showroom inspired by the great showrooms of Milan. It’s carefully edited; the showroom floor is restricted to a handful of notable manufacturers of high-end contemporary furniture. The placement of furniture, accessories, and art is carefully planned to create vignettes that offer more than mere display; rather, the environment presents a unified design vision–an aesthetic, an attitude, a lifestyle.

2.  Axel Vervoordt’s Kanaal Gallery
A recent visit to Axel Vervoordt’s Kanaal Gallery in Belgium left Joshua speechless and inspired. Kanaal at Wijnegem is a former distillery complex consisting of several large brick-and-concrete industrial warehouses with adjoining grain silos originally constructed in the late 19th century  In 2000, the Axel Vervoordt Company purchased the site and transformed the setting into the perfect location for exposition rooms, offices, warehouses, and restoration workshops. In the lofty industrial rooms of Kanaal, Axel Vervoordt furthered his ideas of how we might wish to live in the 21st century: enormous spaces, total purity, lack of decoration—just the necessary architecture and inspiring objects and art. In these rough, empty spaces, an old piece of furniture becomes a contemporary piece of art.

3. Arkanary II iPhone Speaker
In our studio there is always music playing, and Pandora and the iPhone are usually involved. Often when working on residential projects, incorporating the TV and music system can be a battle, because we want to embrace technology, but hide the cords. Carrie recently ran across the Arkanary II, a great speaker that snaps into the iPhone.  Like many simple designs, thought and design intent went into this product.  The old-fashioned form is set against the new technology, creating an interesting juxtaposition that is really fun. The designer, Sang Lee, set up the perfect angle of the phone so the user can see what is happening on the screen, plus there are no cords!

4. Milena Zu
One of the exciting parts of designing restaurants and retail spaces is that your experiences as a designer are broadened by the creations and products your clients bring to the projects. This is how Carrie came to know the jewelry designer Milena Zu. Originally a native Italian, Milena has lived in Bali for over 13 years. She has developed a technique for hand weaving metal to create an exquisite mesh that she then forms into unique pieces of jewelry.  The pieces are surprisingly light, engage beautifully with the body, and organic in form.

5. Pancho
Joshua adores his two-year-old rescue dog, Pancho, who seems to be disguised as a fox.

Marni Elyse Katz is a Contributing Editor at Design Milk. She lives in Boston where she contributes regularly to local publications and writes her own interior design blog, StyleCarrot.