Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Our retail boutique design is coming together...

Wow. Tricia and I are fresh back from a site visit to Bossi & Ich Ky, our latest retail design project. The smell of fresh paint, wallpaper glue, newly cut wood, and general construction resin still lingers. I say wow because this project is turning out REALLY GOOD! Trust me, as always we did our field research before beginning this project. We feel we've raised the bar of design for local retail boutiques... not to say others haven't done a good job of course. But from our research we found that most high-end boutiques looked the same. Stained concrete floor, merchandisers purchased from a global manufacturer (tell them I sent you), some hangers, a hipster or two working the till, and a puffy chair. With some creative designing on our end, we were able to cost efficiently have the entire perimeter of the store be made up of custom built-ins. Simple framing and drywall around well thought space planning, and of course spectacular colors and wall treatments, mean this boutique will stand out on its own.

You see, we love retail design (and shopping). So for us this project was an excellent opportunity to create an environment that makes you (us) feel great about spending your (our) cash! No seriously, come down and visit next month and see for yourself. I'll even walk you through construction plans. The picture above shows the women's fitting rooms taking shape. They'll eventually have fabric privacy screens, and a fabric awning draping across the top of the recessed opening. The blue areas are for glass shelving that will be interior lit with a recessed low-voltage fixture. The picture in this paragraph shows what the general merchandising areas will look like, minus the finish details and trim work yet to happen.

For some before images, as well as some mid-way framing shots, check out this blog post from a week or so ago. One thing worth noting is the crazy timetable for this project. We were contacted by the clients on December 31. A day later, hungover from New Years, we were at the project site measuring and only two weeks later we had delivered a full set of construction documents to the general contractor for permitting with the city. Along with the blueprints we delivered the interior finishes and materials package. This image shows some of the colors and wall treatments you'll find in the store. Those strips on the floor are for the crown moulding for the tops of the built-ins. The two main chandeliers (yet to be installed) will make you drool. Honestly, you could live in this store (minus a kitchen) and be stoked... So all told here we are only 3.5 months from being contacted, and the store is nearly finished! (we should note that the general contractor rocks) You'll be shopping at Bossi & Ich Ky next month sometime.

About the owners: they are a hip young couple on their first retail venture. Last month they traveled to Fashion Week in New York to purchase super awesome designer clothing for the boutique. They've got an entire store load of merchandise ready to display in our creation... I know I'm psyched at the prospect of finding some decent men's fashion in a local store. Also, I hope choosing Pioneer Square as their location will start bringing some cool stuff to a great part Seattle, and continue to boot the import rug stores elsewhere. Finally, if you're a store owner, or an upcoming store owner, give us a call! You can just see our reflections in this picture - that could be your store ;-)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Landscape Design ~ The Town House Plan

Practicing my version of architecture means I get to geek out on simple things, like designing my garden. Rather than just say what I want, I'll use AutoCAD to create a comprehensive set of plans which will included elevations and sections for the decking / bench / stair element, site-work for the electrical and landscaping trenches, plans and etc. Let's do it. So after some measuring (and a year of living at our house in order to gauge what would be best for the garden), we have a solid plan in place. We had a spare weekend. We had a day laborer to dig our ditch. Hence this blog post, post spare weekend and post initial implementation.

Phase I - plant the screening. We chose bamboo as the privacy screen since the plant does quite well in the Pacific N.W. and isn't overly hedgey looking (my blog - my words). Our old house had bamboo running rampant, but some quick research revealed a way to conquer the power of rhizome. In short: dig a 21" deep trench with a slight funneling towards a narrow bottom. Install a 24" tall bamboo barrier, ours being a 40ml thick polypropylene sheet. Support the barrier with rebar, then refill the trench half-way with the original dirt and tamp down. Fill trench the rest of the way with a delicious compost/dirt 50/50 mix. The end goal of which is too encourage the rhizome to grow up towards the surface due to 1) being contained by a barrier that slopes outwards and guides shoots up 2) create an undesirable growing medium below (tamped down dirt) and a desirable growing medium above (delicious dirt). That way the rhizome can't escape its confines by travelling underneath your defenses.

This image shows me securing the ends of the barrier together using metal plates and bolts. Don't want the rhizomes able to sneak in between the overlap thereby bypassing my defenses! Anyhoo, the 21" deep trench with 24" tall barrier means you'll around 3-4 inches of material above the ground. The reason for this is to force shoots to expose themselves when trying to launch an invasion over your defenses. Pluck ... Ghandi goes the rhizome. Additionally, you fill the upper 3-4 inches with mulch to further lure shoots upwards into a warm and moist sunny surface. We plan to also cover the mulch with black rocks, which will make for a zen-like design. That being bamboo, cedar fence, black rocks, buddhaful.

Tricia donned her garden outfit ("fatigues" and pink gloves, fashion shades, ponytails) and started placing the the bamboo plants. Ours were purchased quite tall so that we don't have to practice patience. Privacy Screen Now Please. We adopted and planted 8 bamboo clusters. Already there's a huge difference at the townhouse. Also, my back feels great. Advice: hire a day laborer for heavy work. Ours had to axe through roots that were the size of trees. If I was doing the grunt work myself, one of two things would have happened after being blocked by the root: 1) broken back 2) the root would have become the designer (my trench would have stopped there)

Next we'll do the groundwork for the electrical run and the patio. The plan includes a water feature in front of the privacy screen, and uplights to highlight the existing laurel and newly planted bamboo. So another trench for the conduit, and then over that will be the patio. In our case we'll be installing a border of pressure treated wood, leveling and tamping down the area within this border, and then laying stone. I'll publish another post at that point.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stuff I'm Digging ... 12th and Pike Construction

Seattle is currently a sea of construction cranes. From 40+ story residential and office towers, to full-block apartment/condo buildings, to smaller lot-sized buildings. And while not all of them are worthy or appropriately sized for their location, there is definitely a plethora of good things happening (which is what I'll focus on, choosing to ignore the bad).

The city is getting bigger. I believe an urban core should get tall, and the close-in neighborhoods should get dense. So here we are - getting bigger, taller, and denser. Down Pike street from our offices are a couple of appropriately sized small-lot buildings on the same block. In between them are old brick and masonry buildings, all with an excellent pedestrian friendly street presence. Capitol Hill is a fantastic neighborhood with restaurants, night clubs, galleries and shops, residences, and all the amenities of urban living.

One of the recent additions to the 12th and Pike block are the Agnes Lofts. The building itself is four stories. There's Boom Noodle and the Balagan Theater at street level, and three floors of lofts above. Designed by Weinstein AU, this project commands the corner of the block and maximizes the lot, but does so in a way that adds to the neighborhood rather than taking over the neighborhood. I'm all about a city progressing. Out with the decrepit and in with the new (and hopefully save what can be saved - if worth saving!). People moan about their old haunts being torn down, but usually those old haunts are almost falling down.

The second project sits one lot to the west of the Agnes Lofts. This one is called Eleven Eleven, and was designed by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen. I have to admit, I'm pretty psyched by this one. Granted, the prices are going to be really expensive, but that's no reason to not like the building! This one sits on a narrow, small, inner block lot. I wish all blocks could be developed this way, rather than all the buildings being torn down for one full-block building. C'est la vie, but at least we get one in our neighborhood...

What's great about this one is the use of materials and colors in combination with the architectural design elements, which together are stated to give homage to the automotive and industrial businesses that used to adorn the neighborhood. And check out the remaining buildings on either side. What a great block!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Our latest retail project is under construction

The upcoming retail store Bossi & Ich Ky is A Bollen Design's latest project. The store will be a high-end men's and women's fashion boutique. We're pretty excited as this is a very high profile project, and the client approved our entire design. Value engineering takes place when cuts are made to the best parts of plans (usually the most expensive) due to budget constraints. Clients want the moon, so you design it for them and they love it, but when they see how much it's going to cost they totally balk. Then when the project is complete, they moan about not having gone for it. Every once in a while you get a client like Bossi & Ich Ky that go for it, and everyone is rewarded!

When we started on the project we had a totally clean slate to work from. The only elements staying will be the spiral staircase and the upper loft area, which will become the office. We created a full set of construction documents (blueprints) full of details and lots of design elements. The space will be all custom built merchandisers and wall units, along with an eclectic mix of antique display tables, upholstered furniture for customers to sit on, an 18' tall fabric wall, and of course a few more surprises that you'll just have to see for yourself.

At time of this posting the demo work is long done, the lighting and electrical work have been completed (minus installing the fixtures), most of the merchandisers have been framed and drywall is being sanded. The custom cash wrap is next, then hardwood flooring, followed by a ton of finish work, paint, wallpaper, and a plethora of final details... We'll be off to the job site tomorrow for a site visit and will take some more progress photos to post.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Blogging for design...

Question: Why blog?

Answer: Our latest project, Bossi & Ich Ky, is a high-end men's and women's fashion boutique located in Seattle's historic Pioneer Square. Great client that's letting us run with our scheme. Retail design is super creative and fun, and pushes the envelope.

So what does this have to do with our firm starting to blog? The fact that the clients learned of our services from a Google search! We got a call out of the blue with a project ready to go, and therein lies all the motivation I needed to get going on our blog and increase our exposure. So here we are... blogging for design.

Surely in the past our website has helped to secure us signed contracts... potential clients (that we've already been referred to) take a look at our online portfolio and see that we have some awesome project experience. But to have a choice client FIND US on the web, and then to be sold on services (from viewing our website) PRIOR to even contacting us - well now that's gold.

So here we are, blogging, hoping to reach out and spread a little design love to whomever is willing to receive it. Oh, in the meantime, take a stroll down Seattle's First Avenue just south of Yesler, and on the east side of the street you'll see our latest creation taking shape... the designer fashion boutique Bossi & Ich Ky.