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Umami Mart

Anders Arhoj had what he calls a "super low shoestring budget" to create the branding universe for the Umami Mart. The website-turned-store, an importer of Japanese barware and kitchen specialities, opened up in a former "dead" space in Oakland, CA that the city offered to entrepreneurs with six months of free rent. The shop cites the Japanese Shinto religion and Scandinavian design as two points of inspiration, and functions as a sort of community center by hosting cooking lectures and workshops.

Read more about the shop's new crest and see a few more photos from Arhoj.

Photo by: Clayton Hauck

Photos by Clayton Hauck

Parson's Chicken & Fish is the latest cool joint from the folks at Land & Sea Dept. It began turning out splendiforous fried food and Negroni slushies (designed by bartender Charles Schott) just a few weeks ago and is already shaping up to be a summer favorite. The Land & Sea team has taken design fundamentals seriously in the space. The visual identity and graphic design are by Cody Hudson's Struggle Inc.—and the Parson's logo was hand-drawn by Hawaiian artist Matthew Tapia. Parson's features a small dine-in area and a spacious back patio—complete with a permanantly installed red 1977 El Camino which local designer Ryan Duggan has tricked out with design elements. Inside, the look is a mix between industrial with exposed ducts, factory-style lighting, and retro lunch counter with handcrafted booths, neon-style sign, and a red and white chevron pattern in tile. The handmade cement tiles were sourced from Los Angeles-based Granada. The patterned laminate bathroom door stalls were a collaborative effort between Land & Sea Dept., Mode, and Parson’s partner Jon Martin, and artists and designers Stephen Eichhorn and Jessica Paulson. Outside, the graphic-emblazoned picnic tables are the draw with a light cedar finish and a converted shipping container serves as outdoor bar. Sprout Home teamed up with Land & Sea to outfit the space with landscape elements and its own herb garden.

Follow Parson's on Facebook.

Often converted industrial spaces are softened up with chic details for the sake of contrast. Longman & Eagle's latest addition, the 120 sq foot Off Site Bar revels in its cinderblock and industrial garage door construction. Land and Sea Dept., which headed up the renovation of the two bay garage into a bar, commercial kitchen, event space and tasting room writes, "We referenced its original use, and incorporated a variety of ‘garage’ elements into the overall aesthetic, the most prominent of which is a working seventies drag racing motorcycle. Other elements include a considered beverage program, tightly curated music and vintage audio equipment." That's to say it still looks like a garage space, one outfitted with McIntosh amplifiers, monster speakers and a gnarly yellow motorcycle, as well as art objects from the multi-talented Ryan Duggan.

OSB at Longman & Eagle is now open Thu-Sat.


Photos courtesy of Clayton Hauck

It seems as if everyone we know has been jetting to warmer zones this month. If the option was available, we'd put Mojave Sands Motel on our winter roadtrip itinerary. 

The five-room desert motel in Joshua Tree, CA is an alternative on the Gram Parsons fan's pilgrim trail to the Joshua Tree Inn & Motel, but more importantly, it's been updated in a really unique way. The bones of the space, an abandoned 1950s motel, were kept, but owner Blake Simpson (former furniture designer for Marc Jacobs) spent nine years renovating the place. The doors, windows, gates, and furniture were designed and built on site giving it a real personalized feel. The walls feature cedar plank, the concrete floors were refinished, and the new beds are made of black walnut. All five rooms are completed with a mix of vintage, mid-century furniture. Each room has unusual amenities such as a typewriter, record player with vinyl, and various objet d'art that encourage us creatives to find inspiration. 

The hotel is already a hit with L.A. creative industry types looking for a getaway. Nearby, a music and film production studio beckons and Simpson says solar power and a diner are in the works for his compound.

This oasis isn't suited for the pampered. It's dusty, windy, laidback, and on the main road, evidently, but offers plenty of space for hanging out and making your own good times. That's what it's all about, anyhow.

Rooms begin at $200/night at mojavesands.com

The decadent UP coffee table, recently released by design studio Duffy London, is a glass panel supported by a group of small metal balloons. If you can get past that there's something slightly Entertainment 720 about it, the goofy elegance and implied weightlessness would make any living room a little more buoyant. Christopher Duffy (who also designed the swing chair) is limiting this run to twenty. Details on how many he has left are up in the air.

There's a spot in Brooklyn where cyclists can make pitstops for some quick repairs and a can of beer or two. With a bar in the front, the bike shop will send you on your way tuned-up and relaxed, though hopefully not off your game.

A new laundromat in Ghent, Belgium just took this idea of social multitasking a step further. Wasbar Ghent puts two time-consuming, regular, and often solitary tasks, doing laundry and getting a haircut, in the context of a bright cafe. Put simply, the goal is for patrons to actually enjoy their time doing errands.

Design studio Pinkeye had the huge and very busy student population of Ghent in mind. In addition to laundry machines and a unisex hair salon, the location has a full-service bar, Wi-Fi, and a generous number of tables to allow customers to get the basics done in the midst of mingling.

Not keen on folding your underwear in a busy cafe? Not to worry, there are private folding rooms to keep everyone comfortable.

Chicago photographer Lee Bey shot the former offices of Johnson Publishing, publishers of Ebony and Jet, with original interiors by William Raiser/Arthur Elrod and wrote up the history and his tour of the space for Chicago public radio station WBEZ. The iconic Ebony/Jet Building on Michigan Avenue can be seen from Grant Park, but its dramatic, early '70s mod funk interiors are little known. They have hardly changed over the years. Not pictured, howerver, are John H. Johnson's private offices. Last year, the space was sold to Columbia College and while it says it will preserve the first floor sculpture, "Expansive Construction," we'd guess the offices won't survive the building rehab.

Photos courtesy of Lee Bey.

As soon as you thought lofts were over, God goes and makes them cool again, right? That guy/girl/all-powerful being. Well, in this case, that's not so far from reality. God's Loft could give former church sites a good name in the design world. A former Dutch Reformed Evangelism building in Haarlo was transformed into a one-of-a-kind loft by LKSVDD Architects. They retained the facade, bell tower, wooden roof, old panel doors, and stained glass windows in the church on the outskirts of a village. The designers say their philosophy: strip, isolate, and furnish helped them create a dwelling suited to its new playful, modern, and somewhat naughty occupants.

The designers kept an open floorplan to emphasize the spaciousness of the 1100 square meter space. Their stairway is multifunctional (stairs, room divider, closet, kitchen, exhibition wall, and more). Basic materials and inventive reuse give the space an honest, unpretentiousness, slightly green vibe. The original church floorboards were used as cladding on the stairway and elsewhere you'll see concrete floors, stainless steel kitchen, and white stucco walls with punches of red.

All well and good, but what makes God's Loft stand out is its sense of humor. There's a "swinging sister" swing, guardian angels flanking a wall, and "the stairway to have fun" nods to Led Zep—plus, the red-tiled WC with the toilet paper cross is known as the "holy shit."

Copenhagen's noma is one of the most talked about restaurants in Scandinavia. Chef Redzepi revives traditional Nordic cooking techniques in regional and overlooked ingredients of the type Vikings might have tasted after battle: bone marrow, moss, wild berries. It's the number one restaurant in the world on the S. Pellegrino survey for 2011. And naturally, Anthony Bourdain is a big fan.

It was redesigned in mid 2012—and Copenhagen's Space got the gig. Space has been behind some of the more sublime restaurant designs we've run across in recent years. The designers often leave a bit of the worn and rough edges on a refurbed space to contrast with modern clean lines and the comfort of a timeless leather chair. The designers had only three weeks to work while the noma crew was at the London Olympics, but they turned out a space that's unpretentious, yet special, where the focus is placed on the unusual offerings from the kitchen.

Cool, sophisticated grey replaced a warm, almost too casual wood in the original version. The rough columns of the original warehouse remain, but they're done in an icy white now. The floor was replaced with wider oak panels to enhance the rustic feel. The philosophy is to let the food star in the show. Space partners Peter Bundgaard Rützou and Signe Bindslev Henriksen say, "After quite a long initial sketching period, we all came to the conclusion that it seemed forced and pretentious for a place like noma to do something too conceptual or formally upscale...it is important that the space is not perceived as a superficial layer between the customer and the actual food experience." With a tasting menu that starts near $300 before wine, that seems like a wise design decision.