Hello all, I’m just back from a foray southward to Arizona to hang with family. It’s always fun for me to visit a city like Phoenix with a distinct landscape and a strong sense of its identity. Mostly it’s wonderful to escape routine, although I’m now committed to a strict two-margaritas-only policy after exceeding my meager limits to ill effect one night. Two icy limey margaritas + chips/guacamole = conviviality; 3 = rubbery legs + major headache!
Despite the lingering malaise from my first night’s celebration, I didn’t let that keep me from enjoying the modern Southwestern design style that’s taking over Arizona’s newest restaurants, shops, and public places. The cliche of howling coyotes and desert color palettes have been replaced by an edgier approach that harnesses humble inputs like acid-washed metal and concrete, cutting edge lighting design, and whimsy for new inspiration on desert themes.
Take the Saguaro, a boutique hotel in Scottsdale, and its in-house restaurant/bar called Distrito. The restaurant sells itself on the notoriety of its celebrity chef, Jose Garces, an Iron Chef and James Beard Award winner, but what got me excited was the design of the dining and social spaces, in addition to the tasty fare, of course. Distrito’s decor is emblematic of a Southwestern mod fusion that elevates humble elements to high style.
My family—husband, our sons and their girlfriends—thought I was a bit obsessive with my photo taking, but really, elastic yardage? Seriously? Take a look at these iterations of the elastic-as-room-divider application. Brilliant!
Then, take the humble aluminum lawn chair with its plastic woven bands of webbing—the one that pinched badly if your hand was in the wrong place at the wrong time—and imagine using that webbing as fabric. Mind you, a better and tighter weave in a prettier color and made into whole cloth for upholstery purposes. As I’m a huge fan of purple in all its manifestations, I particularly loved the orchid/blue plaid of the chairs next to the warm wood tones of the furniture.
Next, and my favorite detail, a wall of thousands of tiny colored yarn balls lined up cheek by jowl. I’ll think much differently about those bulk bags of yarn balls when I next visit a craft store!
The other artwork was imaginatively curated as well. I got a kick out of this artist, Michael David Little, and his quirky portraits (Brian Claybrook Photography’s post of some of Little’s work). The spaceman was a particular favorite for my family of SciFi fans.
Oh, I almost forgot, a larger view of the painted skull display at the entrance to the restaurant, truly Day of the Dead on steroids.
Before I close this installment, here’s a peek at something pretty I spotted while shopping in Scottsdale . . . sublime Oscar de la Renta couture. Boy, that dress takes me back to my childhood ballet dreams. I loved the Bluebird Fairy from Sleeping Beauty and fantasized about dancing in a flower bedecked tutu just like that dress. If only my typically down-home life had space and funds for such a dreamy dress.
There you have it, a visual tour of Scottsdale, Arizona running from the rustic to high fashion.