Mary Candace Evans On Bathroom Furniture’s Transformation

Bathroom furniture is enjoying a chic, urban transformation, and Dallas is at the forefront of the evolution.

Ideas such as the upcoming Urban Theory line of bath vanities helped land Cole and Co. on Inc. magazine’s 2005 “Inc. 500” list of the fastest growing companies in the country.

Wildfire of the Vanities
Bathroom furniture is enjoying a chic, urban transformation, and Dallas is at the forefront of the evolution.

Not another urban legend: From Brooklyn to Chicago, Vegas to right here in getting-more-of-a-downtown-every-day Dallas, the world is embracing the urban look. So says Christopher Cole, president of Cole & Co., the Dallas-based manufacturer of furniture for the bathroom, who is developing his Urban Theory line. The bath vanities in sleek minimalist, modernist designs are selling, Cole says, by the truckload.

“The movement toward an urban lifestyle is the largest growing trend in the U.S.,” Cole says, “The shift is toward living in town…very contemporary…in the newest of mixed use – condos, hotels, and retail – all under one roof.” Example: the new W Hotel. Cole worked with HKS Inc. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts to design the porcelain vessel sinks just unveiled for the new W residences.

Speaking of one roof, that’s where Cole & Co. started, literally under Cole’s garage roof on Monticello Avenue. It was 1998, and Cole, then in construction, was building a custom home on Meadow Road in Preston Hollow. The owner wanted antique cabinet sinks in the powder and master bathrooms. One hundred painful man-hours later, Cole had cut the cabinet to fit the sink, replaced base trim, drilled the faucet holes, custom-built a marble counter, and then realized that there had to be a simpler way. Someone should manufacture them as one-piece units, which he ultimately did, one at a time, in his garage. Now available through 1,100 U.S. showrooms, Cole & Co. vanities are snapped up by the top U.S. builders and hotels – David Weekley Homes, Starwood, La Costa, Hotel Del Coronado. Inc. magazine just named Cole & Co. one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s also shipping abroad to dealers in Egypt, Mexico, and Canada – all while seeing sales to the hospitality market explode.


Movin’ On Up

Joanie Wyll has landed the design of the penthouse at the upcoming Palomar at Mockingbird Lane and North Central Expressway; she tells me we can expect to see elements of modern classicalism (a pleasing counterpoint to the luscious Trader Vic’s?). Wyll is also at work in Uptown, townhouses on Travis Walk, and tackling a residence in Colleyville with a Frank Lloyd Wright influence: stained concrete floors, stone walls, and interior stucco, which is a “highly unusual home for Colleyville,” she says.

Hospitable Hospital
More urban: Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas’ new Peggy A. Bell Women’s Diagnostic and Breast Center has the feeling of an urban spa – from the Horizon Italian Tile mosaics in the baths, vessel sinks, limestone counters, and granite to the Knoll-covered Tuohy sofas in the lounge. So urban that the architects and designers were hired from the same firm fancied by the W-HKS Inc’s healthcare interiors division, led by senior project designer Franne Neild, IIDA, AAHID, along with designers Cecily Graham and Becky Haas.

“We wanted a serene, spa-like environment for women from the moment they walk in,” Neild says. “Calming. For their entire journey at the center.” It was achieved through stylized interiors, clean lines, and natural materials such as granite, stonework, and hearty woods; textured art glass for a waterfall-like effect; and mirrored paneled doors and partitions throughout the facility. Nature photography echoes the calming, earth-tone colors. Notably absent and not missed in the least: mauve, mauve, and more mauve.

Bonwit’s Blues
It was brown and blue in stunning splendor when Quadrille Wallpapers and Fabrics and China Seas came to town and covered George Cameron Nash’s showroom in Chinese-inspired toile. Even Nash’s jellybeans were brown and blue. “Right now, San Marco Silk is the hottest thing in New York City,” says Paul Romano, vice president of Quadrille. Apparently Richard Trimble, Sherry Hayslip, and other top designers agreed and placed orders. Trivia quiz: One of the founders of Quadrille was a former window dresser for Bonwit Teller of Fifth Avenue, and created that store’s signature lavender and white floral pattern. What was his name? (Answer at the bottom.) Bonwits, for you neophytes, was one of this country’s greatest stores, opening its doors in 1897 and closing them more than 100 years later in 2000.

The dice will roll east, Far East: Wilson & Associates has landed a China-sized project designing the new Venetian Macau Resort-Hotel-Casino and the new MGM Hotel and Casino, both in Macau, China. To give you an idea of how big this Dallas-based project is, the Venetian’s casino alone will be more than 500,000 square feet. (By comparison, the mammoth new Wynn Las Vegas Casino is 110,000 square feet.) The building will be the world’s largest: 10.2 million square feet including 3,000 rooms, arena, theater, and mall. Jim Rimelspach is heading up Wilson’s team. That team, by the by, will likely be experts in overcoming jet lag – they fly to Macau at least once a month.

Cheryl Van Duyne has completed a dramatic re-do of a 4,292-square-foot unit at the Warrington, with an all new space plan, lighting, finishes, kitchen, wine room, media, and library including a glass panel by artist Polly Giselle in the entryway.


Trivia Answer: Jay Crawford.
 

Email Mary Candace Evans with your design news at [email protected].

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