COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — American Signature, Inc., parent company of (VCF) and (ASF), announced today that a curated selection of design guru Bobby Berk’s new collection with A.R.T. Furniture will be available in VCF and ASF stores and online this October, bringing Berk’s fans a high-style designer collection with styles offered at affordable prices.
The Bobby Berk Collection is on par with American Signature brands’ Designer Looks Collection, which offers on-trend, high-end styles made with incredible quality details like hand-stenciled finishes, solid wood surfaces or 100 percent feathers, but without the high-end price.
“We believe that everyone has the right to a well-furnished life, and the Bobby Berk Collection is no exception,” said Jonathan Schottenstein, President, American Signature, Inc. “Our customers walk into our stores today and they’re floored by what they see. In addition to the Designer Looks Collection available in our stores every day, they can now get the chic designer looks of Bobby Berk without breaking the bank. Carrying this collection will allow us to continue providing our communities with quality style, making Bobby’s modern, designer flair available to his fans.”
Bobby Berk, who is no newcomer to the retail sector, started his own lifestyle and home furnishings brand in 2006. Berk’s expertise in the design sphere was accelerated in 2015 when he launched his full service bespoke interior design practice in Los Angeles.
The Bobby Berk Collection at Value City Furniture and American Signature Furniture will feature select statement-making styles for living room, bedroom and dining room that range between $300 and $2,300 that will be available in VCF and ASF stores, as well as online. Furthermore, these select pieces will only be available at VCF and ASF stores in the markets in which they operate. Offerings include:
Bedroom pieces include a bed bench, platform storage bed, drawer chest, dressers and nightstands, an accent chair and mirror that combine beautiful dark and white wood with gold and leather accents.
Dining room and occasion pieces include a bar cabinet, dining table, a console, cocktail and end tables, and chairs to make your space ready for entertaining.
A completely customizable, velvet blue living room hero piece – a create-your-own, modular couch collection that comes with an armless chair, ottoman, corner chair and more. It can be built into a five- or six-piece sectional or stand on its own.
Customers can shop the Bobby Berk Collection, created in partnership with home furnishings manufacturer A.R.T. Furniture, at VCF.com/BobbyBerk or ASFurniture.com/BobbyBerk, as well as in ASF and VCF stores nationwide, in October.
About American Signature, Inc. Founded in 1948, American Signature, Inc. is a family-owned and -operated furniture retailer based in Columbus, Ohio. It is the parent company of Value City Furniture and American Signature Furniture, with 118 stores across the U.S. The business believes everyone has the right to a well-furnished life and is known for its quality made Designer Looks Collection, which offers high-end styles at affordable prices.
Where better to showcase bespoke furniture than in-situ? For maverick Dutch label and design firm Lensvelt—purveyor of limited edition classics by top talents like Piet Boon, Willem Hendrik Gipsen, Wiel Arets, Tejo Remy, Studio Job, Richard Hutten, Piet Hein Eek, Marcel Wanders, Maarten Van Severen, Maarten Baas, Ineke Hans, and Gerrit Rietveld—a converted warehouse loft seems appropriate. Set on the top two floors of a listed late-19th-century depository, along Antwerp‘s trendy Godefridus quay, the sprawling 500-square-foot attic space plays host to a set of interior stagings, showcasing pieces from the brand’s extensive collection.
Lensvelt CEO Hans Lenvelt first acquired and converted the property in 1997 with the help of Delft-based architecture firm Fokkema & Partners, but it wasn’t till 22 years later that he decided to transform the space into a live-in showroom.
At the time of purchase, the surrounding area was still a gritty port and, as Lensvelt describes, “populated by Eastern European truck drivers looking for a good time.” Since then, the neighborhood has become one of the Belgian “fashion city’s” trendiest districts. The celebrated MAS Museum and designer Dries van Noten are notable residents. After having visited over 20 warehouses, this locale piqued his interest. Regardless of the neighborhoods seedy reputation, the loft’s aesthetic reminded him of the office decor in a Donald Sutherland film he had recently seen and enjoyed. With that direct emotional reference and other key attributes: size, material, proximity, Lensvelt was sold and maintained the space as a private residence for over two decades.
They don’t call her the “Queen of the Curve” for nothing. One of the late Zaha Hadid’s original designs has been slated to open next year, and it comes complete with a large—and, yes, curvaceous—hole punched straight through its center.
Dubbed the 20-story, mixed-use building will be first and only of Hadid’s in Dubai. It promises 56,000 square feet of office space, 12 restaurants and a hotel, which will be operated by luxury travel company . The Opus will be its first outpost in Dubai.
Another view of the Opus Photography by Lauren Ghinitoiu
The Opus’s jaw-dropping exterior is likely to keep cameras clicking. The empty space—or “central void,” as Zaha Hadid Architects calls it—was inspired by an ice cube melting beneath the summer sun. The void’s curved, wobbly lines stand in striking contrast to the rest of the structure’s square angles. It’s not hard to imagine tourists snapping selfies in front of the structure’s mirrored glass.
The Opus Photography by Lauren Ghinitoiu
To achieve this negative space, began with two towers. As development continued, these two entities fused together to create one cube. Rather than fill in all of the blank space, the firm installed a four-story atrium on the ground level, and an asymmetric, three-story bridge about 230 feet off the ground. Crunch the numbers and you’re left with an eight-story oblivion in between.
The Opus at night Photo: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
Zaha Hadid Architects also took the liberty of designing the building’s interiors, most notably that of the new ME by Melià offering. The 100-room hotel will include four penthouse residences, private balconies in each room and bespoke furniture and design reminiscent of the Opus’s sculptural façade. Reception will be located on the ground floor, in the atrium that joins together the two towers, with the void hanging just above.
The hotel lobby Photo: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
Glass spheres hang from the ceiling at reception, which are more artwork more than chandelier, and ZHA will install a special piece, “the Crest,” in the courtyard. Designed by Hadid herself, the structure circles a pool, with steps leading into the water and an asymmetrical bridge crossing over.
“We envisaged a piece that would emerge from the fountain at the center of the pool,” Hadid told Wallpaper. “The metallic surface will reflect the sky on one side and the rippling water on the underside.”
A bedroom at the hotel Photo: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
Should you choose to check in, make sure and check out the the glossy tower’s interior come nighttime. Lights flood the void and give the building a sense of bustling life—one that can be spotted from miles away. Naturally, it’s a marvel up close and personal as well, where visitors and guests can enjoy exterior views from the Opus’s chiseled out center.
A bathroom at the hotel Photo: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
Adjacent to the Burj Khalifa (a.k.a. the world’s tallest building), the Opus has a lot to live up to when it opens in 2020. As one of four ZHA projects shortlisted for the 2019 World Architecture Festival Awards, it looks to be well on its way.
The elegant August Bar is located in the convent’s former chapel
Mouche Van Hool has a weakness for old, abandoned buildings with a lot of history. So, on a visit to a former convent in Antwerp’s Green Quarter, she says she dreamed of what it would be like if it had been restored to its former glory. “I was impressed by the large gardens and the tranquillity that it radiated. We found the location atypical, which convinced us to buy it,” says Van Hool about the abbey that was hidden in a corner behind stodgy walls and had been empty for more than 20 years.
Instead of reimagining its future, she gave the cloister a new life by turning it into August, a 44-room hotel that flaunts the same restraint, albeit in a more modern, elegant fashion. For Van Hool, who in 2004 converted two 16th-century structures in the center of the city to open Hotel Julien—one of Antwerp’s first boutique properties—this endeavor was natural.
Working with Ghent-based Callebaut Architecten, Antwerp architect and interior designer Vincent Van Duysen drew on his vast residential experience to preserve the essence of the neoclassical site and seamlessly integrate its five different buildings and gardens, making August a true destination for the community.
At the entrance, a black steel structure “forms a stark contrast to the red-brick façade. This is an allusion to the glass roofs that once covered the terraces of the hospital pavilions,” Van Duysen says. Guestrooms, most of them previously the nuns’ living quarters, all feature different layouts. Fittingly sparse, they are simply furnished to accent ceiling beams, handwoven carpets, custom lighting, and hand-glazed tiles in the bathroom.
The atmospheric bar is located in the space where the convent’s chapel once stood and stands out with a crisp black and white palette. Inside, refurbished tiles, arched windows, and low-slung bespoke furniture designed by Van Duysen all combine to create a new sense of history. “This place has its own soul. There’s a lot of emotion,” she says. “It’s all about calming down and creating silence, being in a space that doesn’t overstimulate the senses.”
The reception’s crisp color palette contrasts the building’s red brick façade
The dome ceiling in August Bar has been painted jet black to provide contrast
The patterned tile floor in the bar has been preserved
Anchored by a fireplace, a lounge area in August is brought to life with vivid artwork and bespoke furnishings
A wall-mounted 2019 sculpture by Boris Gratry and dining chairs by George Nakashima, circa 1965, reflect the range of Todd Merrill’s taste.
Todd Merrill was to the manor born, but it wasn’t his family’s manor. Nathan and Margaret Merrill, his grandparents, founded the Vermont Antiques Dealers Association and established the Ethan Allen Antique Shop in South Burlington in the late 1930s. His father, Duane, started Merrill’s Auction Gallery in Vermont in 1967.
Now run by his brother, Ethan, the auction house handles estates throughout New England, in upper New York State, and occasionally from Long Island. “When I was a kid, 4 or 5 years old, every other weekend it would be some huge house in the country that five generations had lived in,” Mr. Merrill said recently during a conversation in Southampton.
“And I couldn’t wait to get inside and read their letters and go through their stuff. There were always items in those houses that were really, really good.” Mr. Merrill’s grandparents did a lot of buying for the Webb family, who put together the collection for the Shelburne (Vt.) Museum, and they became interested in folk art before it was being widely collected.
“My grandparents lived across the street from us,” said Mr. Merrill. “We kind of lived in a family compound with my uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents all together. Everybody was working tangentially, somehow, in the antiques business. I never knew anything different.”
As he approached college age, however, the man who had rummaged through people’s estates as a child chose a road not taken by his relatives. “I went to Emerson College in Boston to escape the antiques business. And to do something different.”
While still in his 20s, he was the public relations director for North and South America for Christie’s auction house, and then the director of media relations for Showtime Networks. “I worked for a couple of high-tech internet companies in the late 1990s, and then I just decided I never wanted to do another corporate boardroom meeting again. I wanted my own business.”
That business, Todd Merrill Studio, headquartered in a spacious ground floor showroom on Lafayette Street in SoHo, is renowned for its eclectic mix of 20th and 21st-century furniture, lighting, and contemporary art. Its clients include the architects Peter Marino, Robert A.M. Stern, and Anthony Ingrao; among its collectors are Lenny Kravitz and the Duke of Devonshire.
He opened in 2000 in a small rental on the corner of Stanton and Ludlow Streets on the Lower East Side. “The drug dealing on the corners, in the bodegas, was very dicey. You were basically getting packets of heroin with your chopped liver at Katz’s deli.”
The shop started with a mix of antiques and 20th-century American modern furniture. Just before opening, Mr. Merrill had become friendly with Jean Yves Legrand and Susan Yungbluth, antiques dealers from Sag Harbor. “They were both closing for the winter and suggested I take whatever I wanted from their inventory. By bringing it to the city, it kept their stuff for sale, and I mixed it with the things I had bought and some antiques. I sort of cobbled together the business.”
“The modern pieces took off very quickly. We could see that the clientele wanted something fresh, and not many dealers were offering that kind of thing. So you just figure it out. You start buying more.”
For the first 10 years he dealt in modern furniture, but not manufactured pieces. “I was interested in the bespoke, custom, artist’s studio stuff that was made by a small group of craftsmen or by an individual maker whose design was unique.” He cited as an example Karl Springer, who was designing furniture covered in shells and goatskin.
“I was one of the first people to kind of take things out of the trash. I was buying from marginal auction houses. Christie’s and Sotheby’s would basically dump at Tepper Galleries in New York all their modern furniture. Paul Evans, Karl Springer, Vladimir Kagan, all the people who are in my book, were remnants at that time.”
That book, “Modern Americana: Studio Furniture from High Craft to High Glam,” co-written with Julie Iovine, a design and architecture critic, was published by Rizzoli in 2008. Of that volume, AmericanStyle magazine said, “This richly illustrated book not only covers the facts, it places artists within a social history that gives context to their lives and creations.” An expanded edition was published last year.
“I had spent 10 years reviving the late 20th century, documenting it, restoring it. By the end of 2010, I was interested to see who were the new and interesting designers, especially Americans, and what were they making in the 21st century. I decided to represent artists who had never shown anywhere. And that’s a fascinating process, going out and discovering talent.”
Travel is an important part of that process. “You can’t run the business by sitting in a gallery in New York or the Hamptons. You really have to be out there.” Mr. Merrill just organized a show in Brussels called “Collecting in Belgium,” and as a result met a dozen artists there.
One trend he noted is the blurring of the line between art and design over the past 15 years. “We’re supposed to be design, which is functional, but a third of what we sell is not functional. You have contemporary galleries selling design and design galleries, like ours, selling art.” Mr. Merrill cited Przemek Pyszczek, a Polish-Canadian artist he met in Berlin a year ago.
A successful artist in Europe, Mr. Pyszczek creates sculptures inspired by the tubular metal playgrounds that populate the Communist-built housing blocks of the Soviet era. “When I met him he said he was interested in making functional art, so I said, ‘Cool, let’s make some functional art.’ ” The sculptor’s new series of works in brightly painted tubular metal have evolved into a group of modular tables, seating, and shelving that Mr. Merrill showcased at the recent Seattle Art Fair.
Art and design fairs are an important way to establish an audience for new artists and “to show our vision of how everything sits together and looks together in a contained space,” he said. “And we get 40 or 50 thousand people coming through who are focused on what we’re doing.” He goes to every fair to ensure that his brand is presented correctly.
As if expanding his business to include both modern and contemporary art and design wasn’t enough to keep him interested, Mr. Merrill started producing upholstered seating of his own design. “There’s this incredible need for cool, unique, upholstered furniture that could sit with all the other furniture we have.” This fall at a design fair in London, he is debuting a new sofa with a frame constructed entirely of aluminum tubing.
Mr. Merrill has been coming to the East End since 1991. He and his wife, Lauren, first bought two small cottages by the bay in Shinnecock, and in 2010 purchased a 9,000-square-foot 1980s modern house there, with a view of the ocean. When not traveling, he is more likely to be found in Southampton than in New York City.
“We use it very much as an extension of the business, in the sense that we style rooms, we photograph, I pick the furniture, and I live with it. It’s really a place to experiment with different things and see how they look and feel.”
As he told Raul Barreneche of Architectural Digest magazine, “I could have rented a warehouse. Instead, I bought a warehouse with a swimming pool.”