Austin Insider’s Guide
Tribeza Talk January 2018
An Insider’s Guide to What’s Buzzing Around Austin
by Nicole Beckley
“The whole concept is this duality,” Paul Oveisi explains. “We have the old and the new, the coffee daytime and night bar-time, the indoor and outdoor — we’re kind of fusing those two worlds. That became our theme for the place.” To build out the concept behind Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden, Oveisi, the former Momo’s owner, relied on the nuts and bolts of old Austin, repurposing raw materials like metal and wood from sites in the surrounding South Austin neighborhood.
The onetime auto body shop is now a coffee shop whose bar backsplash features white tiles integrated with reused cedar. Other cool features: a bar façade composed of wood paneling repurposed from a 1960s home remodel, light fixtures from an old warehouse, and 12-foot walnut communal tables handcrafted by Growler Domestics. Photograph by Julia Keim.
Green space doesn’t just have to be outdoors. Whether its hanging greens or small potted plants, fresh foliage can liven up an interior space. At the Fox Den’s East Austin outpost, they offer up bright light-loving begonias and prayer plants. For low-maintenance options, try East Austin Succulents for small succulents and cacti, or add just a touch of color with some bromeliads from Tillery Street Plant Co.
Discovering the Details
For Wendy Dunnam Tita, the 2018 president of AIA Austin, a love for interiors surfaced at her first architecture job in New York, working on projects from the site-selection stage down to defining the details of light fixtures. “I felt like I had discovered an entirely new profession working in that environment,” Tita says. “That really opened my eyes to interior architecture, interior design, and even the role of art and furnishings in our experience of architecture.”
A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Tita returned to Austin from New York and is currently a principal at Page, working on projects like The Ruby hotel in Round Rock and Block 71 downtown. “I almost always start a project thinking about how I want somebody to feel when they’re in the space,” Tita says. And she delights in the details. “Sometimes a moment like the button you push on an elevator or the way that your hand touches a handrail, it can be as important as looking at something in a big picture.”
It’s her plan to share her passion through AIA Austin’s events and outreach. “We want, in a celebratory way, to highlight the work of all the different communities of makers and artisans and architects and designers,” Tita says.
After opening the modern-furniture store Five Elements in 2010, Jonathan and Stacie Fox found themselves wanting an outlet for home pieces with a different vibe. In 2016, the husband-wife team opened SOLID, a home furnishings outpost with an eclectic aesthetic. The South Lamar showroom boasts hand-selected pieces, including antique rugs, sleek leather sofas, and hardwood dining tables. The mix of rustic and vintage items, from tufted club chairs to funky decorative sculptures, can bring warmth and personality to any room. Photograph by Jennifer Henry.
“When I’m doing custom jobs, I take any element that speaks to me and condense it all into one little square, which is really fun, because it’s a challenge to try to figure out how,” says Paige Russell. To create the artwork for a custom scarf for the Hotel Saint Cecilia, Russell looked to the interiors, touring the rooms and noting the elegant rugs and the penny tiles in the showers. “They have these celestial themes throughout, in their logo and throughout their interiors — kind of this star and moon, almost a churchy vibe,” Russell says.
After graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design, Russell launched ELOI in 2014, a brand that translates her bold graphic art onto silk scarves and bandannas. While planning to settle in San Francisco, Russell detoured to Austin and decided to stay. Since then she’s built patterns for the Austin Motel and the Columbus Museum of Art, and she says it’s always her hope that people will display the scarves on their walls. “Ninety-seven percent of people do not, but I love the way they look when they are framed.”
In Living Color
At Waller and E. Cesar Chavez, the colorful PrintPress building opened in September as a hybrid place for co-workers and artists. The debut show, “PRISM,” featured the work of painters and photographers, turning the daytime co-working space into a gallery. The main building features polished concrete floors and vibrant triangles of color bursting from white walls. Artists can also rent rooms in one of the five cottage studios. Photograph by Chris Gray.