Best of Design of the Twin Cities 2014



Best Lollygagger

Why is Loll Designs on every one of our lists of best design wares? Let us count the reasons: all-weather furniture made right here in Minnesota, from recycled plastic, with a clean and modern aesthetic, in fresh and fun colors. What’s not to love? And every year, the company comes up with cool, new designs. Our fave this season: the Lollygagger Lounge chair in Sunset, with built-in bottle opener underneath the right armrest, just in case you’re thirsty and too comfortable to get up.



Best Treasure Hunting

This would have to be Spinario: perennial best for the cool and unusual, the unique and the beautiful. Owners Peter Dyste and Caitlin Karolczak have a knack for uncovering museum-worthy midcentury and Danish modern pieces—peerless rosewood coffee tables, impeccable teak bedroom sets, designer lighting. But they aren’t purists in the period sense: You’ll find surprises, such as gigantic gilded mirrors and off-kilter tabletop or accent pieces, which keep the shop from feeling like the untouchables at a museum. Their lust-inducing furniture, quirky accents, and stunning artwork aren’t bargain-priced, but they’re worth every penny. 3338 University Ave. SE, Minneapolis, 612-396-1860,


Best Conscientious Countertops

Rust Brothers is a Northeast Minneapolis maker of custom countertops, cabinetry, and furniture. It’s also a place where sustainability is a way of life, where partners Jason Branson, Brady Lenzen, and Troy Keyes believe that they can create beautiful things without using materials that can’t be renewed or replaced. Mission accomplished: You’d never suspect these gorgeous surfaces were made from recycled glass and zero-VOC resins unless you asked. Or you’re as devoted to using products that are good for the earth and the community as these guys are. Available at Select Surfaces, 1718a Lexington Ave. N., Roseville, 651-483-1576,,




Best Upcycling


Ever wonder what happens to the remnants of leather and textiles from luxury manufacturers? A heck of a lot of them are tossed into landfills—hundreds of thousands of pounds each year. But some of these lovely leftovers end up in the hands of people like Carter Averbeck, the reuse virtuoso who owns the new storefront Omforme. Averbeck transforms all manner of discards into beautiful objects and sells them at accessible prices to lovers of the bold, the quirky, and the unique. Case in point: Hair-on-hide pillows, with raffish zebra stripes, $89, handmade in Minnesota. Yum. See more inspired rehabs at Omforme, 613 W. 24th St., Minneapolis, 855-663-6763,


Best Budget Stretcher

This sprawling warehouse of builder’s overstock is, as it claims, the handyman’s candy store. DIYers, architects and designers know Building Materials Outlet as a great place for bargains. If a builder needs to use it on a project, odds are it’s here—open windows, close doors, turn on the faucets, tack up your trim—everything that makes your house your home, at a mere fraction of the retail price. Be forewarned that it is a warehouse in the truest sense: enormous aisles, massive amounts of stock, dusty and dirty. But don’t be intimidated: Just ask the friendly staff to point you in the right direction. There you have it. Now you’re in the know, too. 3045 Sibley Memorial Hwy., Eagan, 651-454-8840,




Best Brainstorm

Hardscape designers Benn Kidd and Dan Carriere, co-owners of Stoneman Masonry, Inc. in Minneapolis, use a lot of flagstone in their work. It’s a popular choice for everything from patios to garden walls. Last year, the two got to thinking: “If you can do it with stone, you can do it with concrete,” Kidd says. The two started experimenting with concrete from demolished driveways, sidewalks, and pavement. Soon they had the hang of it, fitting together the recycled chunks—they prefer sidewalks—like pieces of a puzzle. And this year, a new service is born, Green Mason, dedicated to designing and building landscape features out of unwanted bits of concrete. It’s the only one of its kind in Minnesota, saving customers material costs and doing its part to keep concrete out of landfills.


Best New Life for Old Wood

You’ve seen reclaimed wood from Big Wood Timber Frames, Inc.—it’s used in the MOA’s Radisson Blu FireLake Cocktail Bar, Colossal Café, Clive’s Roadhouse, and Eddie Bauer storefronts. Not to mention new homes and remodels all over the country. Big Wood started life as a builder, specializing in custom-built timber frame homes. With locations in St. Paul and Brainerd (where much of the inventory resides), the company expanded beyond timber frame design to reclaimed-wood mecca. It now supplies timbers, flooring, barn doors, pressed tin, handrails, door hardware, and just about any salvage material you can name to fine homebuilders in the area and across the country. 651-298-8776,




Best Midcentury Gold

We’ve loved midcentury modern furniture hounds Bill and Kara Kurth, the couple behind Golden Age Design, since their humble Craigslist offerings. Now they’re official: They blew the doors off a Kickstarter campaign by raising more than $17,000 to rehab a retail space in downtown Robbinsdale. From now on, they’ll showcase their midcentury goods pop up–style, once a month. We look forward to snapping up even more of their pristine designer and collectible finds at reasonable prices. The Kurths look forward to having the space to finally park in their own garage. 4157 Broadway Ave. W., Robbinsdale,


Martin-Patrick-interiorBest Styling

If you gaze at Man of the World or Esquire and wish you lived inside the pages, you can visit a real-life version of them, right here in Minneapolis’s own Martin Patrick 3. The space has been through multiple expansions during the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, quite a testament to owner/interior designer Greg Walsh. Credit his keen eye, ability to capitalize on merchandising exactly the way we want our lives to look, and—of course—business acumen. An animal jawbone, artfully perched on a stack of coffee-table books, a wall made up of the spines of books as though they make a sheet of wallpaper, the perfectly attended bar cart—learn it here, repeat it at home. 212 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis, 612-746-5329,



Best Color Palette

No, you won’t be spending $243 million on your home renovation, but you can take some cues from the newly opened crown jewel of downtown St. Paul: the Union Depot. Built in 1926 and restored to its Jazz Age glamour, this hub for Amtrak and the light rail—not to mention community and special events—positively shimmers in white, gold, bronze, and yellow, bringing a formality and polish back to travel that hasn’t been seen since Juicy Couture tracksuits became de-rigueur travel gear. The Art Deco flourishes—lovingly restored by HGA architects, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, and Mortenson Construction in the largest public-works project in Ramsey County history—feels fresh after the midcentury madness, too. 214 Fourth St. E., St. Paul, 651-224-6000,,




Best Natural Chic

While many watched Twitter with great anticipation for the opening dinner bell at Heyday, the Lorin Zinter—Jim Christiansen-helmed Uptown eatery, we’ve been poised to strike on the design decisions behind the restaurant. It favors “rustic chic”—natural materials married with modern and simple designs, including storied Heath Ceramics dishware. No, we’re not encouraging you to steal the plates, just the inspiration. Buy them for yourself at




Best Wall Drama

You know the maxim “Go big or go home.” Try this one instead: Go big when you go home. Decorators White walls bathed in natural light have taken over Instagram, but if you’d really rather make a statement, try the mural. We love the bold color and large-scale graphics of the wall at Coup d’Etat. Painted by local artist Adam Dennis, it’s only about 10-percent complete, so much more to come. Here’s to the drama, glamour, and fearlessness of living large. 2923 Girard Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-354-3575,



Best Wallpaper

You’d expect the coolest bar in town—the North Loop speakeasy with no signage save for a purple door, an abundance of craft cocktails, and seriously low lighting—to be sleek, minimal, and black. You’d be wrong. The designers of Bachelor Farmer’s eclectic-Nordic-modern décor didn’t stifle themselves when they moved downstairs to the Marvel Bar. Here, the standout is the wallpaper: Clouds by Aimee Wilder, with its shock of teenage-dream cloud-doodle walls and colors that reinforce the enigmatic drama. The lesson here: Good design includes a little surprise. Oh, and there’s no need to take yourself too seriously. There’s nothing like a whimsical color, playful pattern, or an off-kilter collectible to make your home feel whole.





Best Wall Therapy

If ever you find yourself at 50th and France and in need of serenity, step into Spruce Flowers & Home. Stand before the white wall hung with clear glass terrariums, cunningly filled with diminutive succulents, air plants, and other natural objects. Breath deeply. Immediately buy some of the simple ingredients for yourself and go home to replicate this lovely, living Zen inspiration. You’re welcome. 4940 France Ave. S., Edina, 612-767-1101,




Best Illuminators

Hidden away in a nondescript warehouse off East Hennepin Avenue, these artisans spend their days manipulating molten material that’s roughly three times the daytime temperature of the planet Mercury. And they love every minute of it. Glassblowers and co-founders of Hennepin Made, Joe Limpert and Jackson Schwartz, are completely in thrall to their medieval craft of “turning and burning,” as Limpert puts it. They invariably describe the process of crafting a light-capturing object from liquid the consistency of honey as something akin to magic. Limpert was studying ceramics when he discovered glass and soon apprenticed with his instructor at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Schwartz. As the two experimented with handmade glass, they found they also shared an entrepreneurial spirit and founded Hennepin Made in 2011. Their ethereal creations often combine spun aluminum and hand-blown glass in elegant harmony. See more of their work at and at Room & Board,




Best Boost for Bees

Ron Bowen, founder of Prairie Restoration in Princeton, has advocated landscaping with native plants for nearly 40 years. Finally, we’re finally paying attention, mostly because of alarm over the declining population of bees and butterflies. This spring Bowen took matters in hand with “Sowing It Back Together” kits of wildflower and wild grass seeds designed to replace 500 square feet of turf grass. Carefully chosen seeds (all grown within 200 miles of where they are sold) are calibrated for sunny, shady, or combination landscapes in kits that include a dozen native plants attractive to pollinators. “We wanted to encourage urban and suburban homeowners to do their part to stitch the native landscape back together,” says Erin O’Leary, coordinator of the program. “It’s that cumulative effort that helps restore habitat.” Sowing It Back Together kits, $450 for one and $350 for additional, are available at Prairie Restoration, Inc.’s six retail locations and at




Best Assist for Period Purists

Blame changing tastes or the dictum that every house about to go on the market must be a sea of impersonal beige. Either way, the jellybean- colored tiles of many a midcentury bathroom have been sacrificed to safe, neutral tones. For those who mourn the loss of cotton-candy pink, sky blue, lemon yellow, and mint green, there is now a better option than sifting through architectural salvage. Clay Squared to Infinity, the Northeast Minneapolis custom-tile maker, is carrying a new line of reproduction tiles, helping period purists restore their homes to their former Technicolor glory. 34 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis, 612-781-6409,



Best Miracle Worker

If you’ve ever stepped into a luxurious Twin Cities home only to find yourself looking up—because the ceiling is exuding a soft glow—or softly touching a wall—because the plaster surface begged for closer examination, you’ve seen the work of Darril Otto. The miracle worker behind Otto Painting Design transforms walls, ceilings, built-ins, and bespoke furniture with decorative paint and plaster finishes. Using techniques ranging from delicate French brush painting to tactile bees’ wax plaster, Otto is a master in our midst. He works out of his Chanhassen studio, but you can see his work at





Best Budding Classics

You’ll often spot the work of Scott McGlasson in homes that feature modern classics from the likes of Eero Saarinen and Hans Wegner. You’ll also see it in fine craft galleries, top shows like the American Craft Council’s in St. Paul, and exhibited at Walker Art Center and the Smithsonian. Handcrafted from American hardwoods in his St. Paul studio, McGlasson’s pieces feel organic and natural, often with the slightest touch of whimsy (as the sheepskin-topped stool demonstrates). McGlasson’s chairs, stools, lamps, tables, and casegoods are well on their way to becoming modern classics in their own right. See more examples or order at



Best New Shop

When you feel the need to shop cheeky, unusual home goods, Pharmacie is the prescription. Fulfill that urge with wares ranging from paper arts and greeting cards (including locally produced Crafterall and Zeichen Press) to edgy home accents (think felted-wool pillows and 3-D printed filigree skulls) all the way to big-ticket room makeover pieces (lighting and furniture) with a distinctly modern bent. Pharmacie’s owners also dress a mean window, always in keeping with their modern twist on an old-fashioned shopping experience. Y 2743 Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis, 612-200-9633,




Best Contact High

Just walking through the doors of The Foundry Home Goods makes you want to renounce all your worldly possessions and buy…all new worldly possessions. Anna Hillegass’s tightly edited home-goods store is so cohesive and delightful that you’ll find yourself craving a white, gold and natural-wood home, even if you tend to favor the entirety of the Pantone rainbow. Hillegass calls it “simple, useful, and beautiful.” We call it perfect. Y 125 N. First St., Minneapolis, 612-333-8484,




Best DIY (or Don’t)

If your household includes kids, pets, or simply standard Minnesota messiness, investing in custom rugs, runners, and wall-to-wall carpeting may well give you cold feet. That is, until you walk through the doors of Flor in Uptown. Customize the nearly indestructible carpet squares in patterns or shapes yourself, or get design help from the in-store staff. Either way, it’s an affordable and fun solution for tough, colorful floor coverings. The squares, from shag to short-pile, are mostly made from reused or recycled materials. The best part? When that inevitable wine spill happens, you just lift up the affected squares and replace them. Party on. 1426 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-824-1935,



By Katie Dohman and Chris Lee


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