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Interior Design Media
Playful graphics in bold colors cross disciplines to become striking art and custom furniture pieces by Emily Alston. “I really like the idea of functional art—which is basically furniture,” laughs the British designer, who draws from a background in graphic design and illustration. With the unforgettable moniker of Emily Forgot, also the name of her design studio, she has collected a diverse roster of clients since graduating from the Liverpool School of Art & Design in 2004. Notable among them: prestigious London cultural institutions the Victoria & Albert Museum and Somerset House, hotel chains Mondrian Suites and CitizenM, retailer Selfridges, and furniture manufacturer Herman Miller.

This fall, at The Interior Design Show (IDS) in Vancouver, running September 26-29, Forgot will debut “A Sense of Place,” an installation based on the shapes and architecture of Canadian Modernism. In parallel, 13 of her pieces will be for sale with 50 percent of proceeds benefiting education program Out in Schools. Interior Design sat down with Forgot to learn more about her boldly colored wooden relief pieces, the favorite pastime she indulges all around the world, and why little has changed in some areas of her life since the age of six.

Interior Design: We understand you recently wrapped up a residency program.

Emily Forgot: That’s right, with de Bijenkorf, a department store chain in the Netherlands. I created a series of furniture and domestic objects inspired by the de Bijenkorf stores and the Bauhaus movement—so a table, chair, rug based on a Marcel Breuer staircase, and a set of three mobiles. The program, called Room on the Roof, is organized to coincide with the centennial of the Bauhaus movement and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Eindhoven de Bijenkorf store, designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti. The pieces will be used in window displays.

ID: Can you share a little more about the IDS installation and what else is upcoming for you?

EF: For IDS, I'm making some colorful wooden relief pieces for “A Sense of Place,” an installation and entrance hall feature. Similar to others I have made, these reliefs will be based on architectural or interior spaces that I quite like, with relevancy to location. Therefore, I've been researching a lot of Canadian architects and architecture and visiting some Vancouver-based spaces. I then reinterpret and abstract them for the relief pieces.

I am also working on a maze for the hotel chain CitizenM that will be open to the public during the London Design Festival, also in September, and a series of assemblage pieces and prints which will be exclusively for the Victoria & Albert Museum shop.

ID: What gets your creative mind energized?

EF: Travel is really important. As an example, this past February I did a project for Stay One Degree, a vetted-member-only holiday home rental website. They sent me out to the Canary Islands in Spain, to Tenerife, to be inspired by one of the villas they have there and then also by Tenerife itself. For them, I also created a unique series of colorful wooden pieces. A film was made to document the trip and the making of the pieces It was a really nice project and made me think a little bit differently about my work, which always has inspiration coming from a sense of place. Travel doesn’t have to be about getting on a plane and going somewhere, it's also about going to the library and picking up some old archive magazines.

ID: How do you believe the British design culture helps enable your vision?

EF: With social media and the internet being so much a part of our creative lives, things feel a lot broader. You can uncover an amazing restaurant in Australia or a new kind of furniture brand in New York. I gain inspiration from all around the world and don't think my work necessarily has a particularly British feel. But then again, I do really like a lot of British design; it's quite playful and there is a little bit of humor.

ID: In what kind of home do you live?

EF: I've recently moved with my partner into a 1960s home with quite a lot of original features. It’s near the sea, about an hour outside London, and is a huge ongoing project. My partner, Von, is an illustrator and artist as well, and we have a studio in the house that we share. Although some people just think that’s crazy, it
Interior Design Media
A holistic approach to nature and wellness drives Matteo Thun’s built projects. The award-winning Italian architect and Interior Design Hall of Fame member co-founded the iconic Italian design and architecture collective the Memphis Group with Ettore Sottsass in 1981, before striking out on his own, forming Matteo Thun & Partners in 2001. Thun’s happiest designing something new, he admits, and his firm’s creative eye, honed out of a headquarters in Milan and an office in Shanghai, is behind a long list of high-profile hospitality and healthcare projects spanning the globe.

Most recently, summer saw the reassembly of Thun’s temporary beach structure, Cala Beach Club on the breathtaking Emerald Coast of the Italian island of Sardinia. Situated at Hotel Cala di Volpe in Costa Smeralda, a playground for the rich and, at times, famous—many of them yachting enthusiasts—Cala Beach Club is an environmentally sensitive structure only accessible by foot or boat. In summer it hums with private parties, with clientele seduced by the stunning natural landscape. Interior Design sat down with Thun to hear more about the Cala Beach Club, what toy kicked off his imagination at a young age, and which project reachable solely by cable car he considers a career turning point.

Interior Design: What was your overall design goal for Cala Beach Club?

Matteo Thun: Cala di Volpe is a beautiful beach in Sardinia. We wanted to create a shady oasis just between the woods and the sea. Restaurant, bar, and treatment rooms have been designed to melt within the landscape, to respect the charm of this special place.

ID: What was particularly challenging about this project?

MT: This property is reachable only by boat or on a path through nature. Since it serves only for the season, we designed a removable structure that is easily to assemble and dismantle.

ID: What materials did you use and why?

MT: The structure unites with the beach vegetation, terraces value the inclination of the land, and views are open to the sea. We only used natural materials that integrate with the surroundings, such as chestnut wood and bamboo. All colors are natural and warm.

ID: What else have you completed recently?

MT: We like to bring nature inside and believe in concepts that emphasize an overall healthy lifestyle as a main approach. Healthy architecture and interior design guarantees physical and mental well being, allowing a relationship between humans and the environment. In Obbürgen, Switzerland, the Waldhotel at Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort, which opened at the end of last year, is a space for wellness and medical services. It’s made from local stone and wood, and nature will take over in a few years so that the building will melt with the mountain. As with most of our projects, we also designed the entire interior.

Another recent project is the new headquarters for Davines, an Italian beauty company dedicated to sustainability and based in Parma, Italy. Here, we grouped traditional rural shapes and innovative volumes around a greenhouse that serves as a restaurant for the employees. Maximum architectural transparency with a minimum amount of masonry elements provides every working station with a view of the green areas.
Alex Brandon/AP
A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

Anyone can see the changes at work in a gentrifying neighborhood. Rents rise, crime drops, wine bars bloom in vacant storefronts. But it’s harder to see what’s happening inside people’s homes and lives. For all the handwringing that accompanies gentrification—from how common it is to the meaning of the word to what people should do to stop it—there are rarely robust efforts to tease out the impact of a neighborhood’s economic upswing on its original residents. Few resources exist to show how change really affects residents, for good or bad.

The study looks at original residents of low-income, central-city neighborhoods of the 100 largest metro areas using census data from 2000 and American Community Survey data from 2010 to 2014. Using the earlier data as a base, researchers Quentin Brummet and Davin Reed tracked changes in educational achievement and household status among less-educated renters and homeowners as well as more-educated renters and homeowners. While some of these neighborhoods saw gentrification, not all did, providing a basis for comparison.

For less-educated renters, who are among a neighborhood’s more vulnerable demographic groups, gentrification drives out-migration by 6 percentage points. Migration among renters is high whether a neighborhood becomes fancy or not: The research finds that 68 percent of less-educated renters and 79 percent of of more-educated renters move over the course of a decade. So, on average, gentrification spurs around 10 percent of moves for less-educated renters (and much less so for renters with more education).

Given the high rate of change within neighborhoods, the data suggest that gentrification itself is overdetermined as a direct cause of displacement. “This effectively places a limit on the potential for gentrification to cause displacement and makes it possible for neighborhoods to change quickly even without strong displacement effects,” the paper reads.

No doubt, there are unobservable costs associated with moving, which the paper acknowledges. Moving is pretty awful under the best of circumstances, and “displacement” usually summons a worst-case scenario. But leaving a neighborhood can lead to a perfectly neutral outcome. The research shows that “for all types of individuals, movers from gentrifying neighborhoods do not experience worse changes in observable outcomes than movers from nongentrifying neighborhoods.” The paper continues, “That is, they are not more likely to end up in a higher-poverty neighborhood, to become unemployed, or to commute farther than individuals moving from nongentrifying neighborhoods.”

For those original renters and homeowners who stick around, the benefits of improving neighborhood conditions are several. Gentrification reduces the exposure of original residents to poverty, which is tied especially to healthy outcomes for children. For less-educated renters, gentrification appears to be absolutely responsible for reduced exposure to poverty: The baseline change for poverty exposure within this group was zero.
Yalonda M. James / The Chronicle
Greg Dunston and Marie Mckinzie lived on Oakland’s streets for almost 10 years, pushing their carts around with all their belongings and sleeping in the doorway of an Alameda County building.

But for the past three months, the couple have lived among the wealthy — on a nearly $4 million property in one of the Bay Area’s most exclusive neighborhoods in Piedmont. The homeowner, Terrence McGrath, did something few in his position would dare do: He opened his doors to homeless people in need.

Poor, black homeless people — in a mostly white, rich neighborhood.

“My officers are very familiar with who’s living in that house and what (the homeowner’s) trying to do,” Piedmont police Capt. Chris Monahan told me. “When people have called, we’ve not even responded. We’ve called them and said, ‘Oh no, those are the people that live in the house. (The homeowner’s) trying to help them.’ ”

McGrath, who is white, read about the couple in a column I wrote in January. I shared their story of survival and hope. When I met them, they camped in a doorway at the Alameda County Probation Office on Broadway in Oakland. But peaceful nights of sleep were few, because street life — the threats, the fights, the retaliations — can be loud for people who want to avoid that kind of noise. Dunston always had to be on the lookout for thieves looking to prey on the weak.

They packed everything they owned — their entire lives — into two utility carts before the building opened in the morning. They wearily pushed the carts everywhere they went, spending most of their days near Jack London Square before again settling down for the night.

McGrath arranged to meet the couple in a downtown cafe. It was there he saw their carts tucked into a nearby corner — and that’s when he knew that letting them move in was the right thing to do.

He was living in a 4,500-square-foot home on an idyllic, tree-lined street. His daughters had gone off to college. And he had an empty in-law unit with a separate entrance, kitchen and bathroom.

But the couple weren’t sure moving to Piedmont was a good idea.

“They were a little bit anxious about it right from the start, partly because of the neighborhood,” their friend John Reimann told me.

Piedmont is a city of approximately 11,000 residents that’s surrounded by Oakland. According to the 2010 census, 74% of residents are white and 18% are Asian. Less than 2% of residents are black. The median home value is $2.3 million, according to Zillow.

Reimann, who befriended the couple at Jack London Square two years ago — and sometimes paid to put them up in hotel rooms during bad weather — nudged them to move to Piedmont.

It was hard for them to believe that someone they didn’t know who had more money than they could ever imagine wanted to help them. What did McGrath want in return?

Nothing, McGrath told me.

McGrath, 60, was raised in St. Helena in Napa County. He was one of nine children, and he told me his family was poor and on welfare for significant periods of time.

Today, McGrath is a real estate developer and investor. The UC Berkeley graduate is the founder of McGrath Properties, which focuses on the acquisition and development of properties in the East Bay. The company renovated a nine-story building on Clay Street in downtown Oakland that was the former headquarters of PG&E. And it’s one of the developers of the 24-story, 402-unit high-rise apartment building going up feet from MacArthur BART Station.

I asked McGrath why he’d let people off the street live with him.

“It’s helped bring me back to my roots as a young kid,” he said. “I cannot avoid the responsibility I have to life around me. I have a personal obligation to take responsibility when I see injustices. And to me, this is a clear injustice.”

Reimann drove Mckinzie and Dunston to McGrath’s house for a tour on Jan. 23. I watched Mckinzie rub an arthritic wrist as we sat in McGrath’s living room that’s filled with captivating sculptures and paintings. Mckinzie was excited about the in-law unit’s bathroom.

“It has a shower and a tub,” Mckinzie said happily.
David Foessel
Curving brass partitions and vaulted stone ceilings both feature inside this Japanese beauty store in Paris, designed by local architecture firm Archiee.

Designed for new Japanese cosmetics brand En, the 150-square-metre store occupies the ground floor and basement of an 18th-century building in the centre of the French capital. It is the brand's first physical shop.

En's unique selling point is that customers are able to create customised skincare products by mixing their choice of the brand's some 100 "essences", which include organic plant extracts, rock salts and tea-leaf powders.

The name "En" translates as "beauty" in Japanese, but can also mean "circle" and "connection". These three translations all inspired the design of the store.

The store is divided into four main rooms. On the ground floor are two bright minimal spaces, furnished with curving brass partitions and furniture. Meanwhile the basement reveals the building's history, with exposed stone walls and a vaulted ceiling.

Archiee – a studio led by Japanese architects Yusuke Kinoshita and Daisuke Sekine – has added brass elements in different ways in each of the four spaces. Upstairs, they form curved partitions that frame semi-circular spaces, while downstairs they create details for lighting and furniture.

The first room that customers arrive at is an entrance space that contains an enclosed boutique where products are displayed.

The second room contains the counselling and treatment space, the third contains a "hall" and two enclosed massage spaces, while a product gallery and the small circular blending counter are in the fourth space.

"The external surfaces of the circle partitions are finished in polished brass to bring a distorted and warm reflection," explained the architects.

"This beautiful expanded space creates the feeling for the visitor step into an elegant and extraordinary world."

After the remaining founder of the Stroud Pence structuring engineering firm retired in 2016, two of its top executives, Anna Lynch in Raleigh and David Mykins in Virginia Beach, bought majority ownership.

And effective Wednesday, they rebranded it as Lynch Mykins.

Lynch, 36, will serve as CEO of the new company, relocating the headquarters from Virginia Beach to Raleigh where she’s been based since joining the firm in 2003. Mykins, 57, who had previously served as president and CEO of Stroud Pence, will retain his role as president and leader of the company’s Virginia branches in Virginia Beach and Richmond.

The buyout deal follows the retirement of founders Roger Stroud and Ed Pence in 2012 and 2016, respectively. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Between its three offices in North Carolina and Virginia, the firm employs 31 people – including 12 in Raleigh.

Lynch, a native of Iowa, had been hired by Mykins as a structural engineer for the firm’s Raleigh office in 2003 shortly after earning her degree from the University of Wyoming. She later also earned a master’s degree in engineering from N.C. State University. She was promoted to managing director of the Raleigh office in 2011. Mykins joined the firm in 1986 and became president in 2013.

“Anna has led our Raleigh operation to become a beacon of growth for our entire firm,” Mykins said in a statement. “The success that our Raleigh office has realized during the last five years sets a benchmark of what we can achieve as a firm moving forward.”

“He’s been my mentor from day one,” Lynch said of Mykins. “I am very excited to embark on this new journey with the Lynch Mykins team.”

Triangle Business Journal honored Lynch in 2016 as one of the region’s top 40 leaders under the age of 40.