"ishkadesigns"

African American Top 20 List... a 3rd Time!

Happy and humbled again to be included on Pink Eggshell's African American Top 20 List of Interior Designers for the 3rd year in a row.  We are beyond appreciative to Kimberly and her team at Pink Eggshell for continuing to value the work we do at Ishka Designs, to bestow us with this honor and to include us among the many giants in this relatively small community of interior designers of color.  As the importance of the list grows within the broad landscape of the interior design industry it is only right that the celebration that accompanies this event grows in tandem.  This year's celebration will be in Atlanta and will be a 3-day event starting with the celebration party on Thursday May 8th at the newly opened Negril restaurant.  See the line up on Pink Eggshell's blog

here

, and for the full list of the other amazingly talented designers, read

here

.  If you are in the Atlanta area, we would love for you to join the celebration, say hello and meet the other designers.  Looking forward!

Some of the members of the Top 20 at the 2012 celebration in NYC.  Source: African American Interior Designers Facebook page

One,

Team IDI

Lights, Camera...Action: Take 1

Caught in the Act featuring Ishka Designs! Brooklyn Indpendent TV series - Bric Arts Media
We've finally built up the courage to bare our souls, skills and style on the big screen. Ok, so it is not quite the big screen, but it is local TV network, Brooklyn Independent Television.  We are very happy and proud to be a part of their docu-series "Caught In the Act: Art in Brooklyn", which takes a "fly on the wall" perspective of Brooklyn artists as they go about executing their artwork.  The approach perfectly explains the 6 minutes of unrehearsed, unscripted, raw delivery of a day with IDI so kindly excuse the repetitive words, the "uhms" and the "errs" and help Niya and I celebrate our first real LIVE television experience...hip, hip....hooray!
Chatting about our project for non-profit Haiti Cultural Echange.
The show first aired on 02.27.13 and will continue to air for a month at 2p and 10p Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Time Warner 56, Cablevision 69 and in all five boroughs on Verizon 44.  Non-NY'ers can also see our portion of the episode here courtesy of blip.tv.
On the site of our project with Haiti Cultural Exchange President, Regine Roumaine
We weren't joking earlier about the build-up to this.  In fact, about two years elapsed since the producer, Ambika Samarthya, first knocked on our door requesting participation on the show.  Only recently, however, did we happen upon the right project fit for her.  In late November, we committed to working with the amazing non-profit organization, Haiti Cultural Exchange, to design their first head office location.  With the short turnaround time we were given, we felt the project would be ideal for TV.  Alas, the final reveal did not occur in time for the airing of the show, but we will keep you posted on the final results.

So here are my thoughts: despite his very camera-shy demeanour, Mr. Bascom looks and sounds like he was meant for the screen...not so sure about yours truly, but I am working on it.  Do you think we should make a habit of this TV thing? :)

One,
idi

***Special thanks to Ambika Samarthya, Brooklyn Independent TV and our client, Haiti Cultural Exchange for making this happen***


We are featured in NY Spaces Magazine's Oct 2012 Issue!

NY Space Magazine Oct 2012 Issue.  We are featured on page 136!  Go get your copy.
Pop the bottle, sprinkle the confetti!  We are celebrating the fact that one of our most recent projects is currently featured in a four page spread in the awesome NY Spaces magazine's October 2012 issue.  It is their popular Art Issue.  And all the photos were taken by our Niya Bascom.  AND they used our client's dining area close up for the opening of the well section!  So if you have a moment, go get your copy and help us celebrate.

One of our favourite photos of our project.  Artwork by Jamal Ince. Photo by Niya Bascom
Special shout out to all the amazing folks who worked with us on this project, including Nick Knacks Creative (contractor), Khem Brady (painter), 33 Woodwork (master carpenter), From The Source (custom furnishings), Jamal Ince (dope artist) and Sana Keefer (stylist).

Introducing Elberta Part 2

We completely redesigned and installed a new façade for the restaurant.  The header of the new skinny metal "barely-there" frame (built by Lennox Ironworks) provides a strong contrast to the new name and logo finished in stainless steel.  It also conceals the security gate which was a major eyesore before.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
The façade BEFORE.  The old wooden structure was taken off-site and upcycled by Eddie's Ft. Greene salvage company located at Greene and Grand Ave's. 
Although only a few days have passed since our first post on Elberta Restaurant, this project took about 4 months to complete counting from the day we signed the contract up until the last construction day.  For the clients, a bit longer on the back- and front-end.  Construction itself took 3 months, delayed by crazy spring weather (impacting façade and sidewalk installation), site issues, product delays, etc.  But nothing before it's time eh?  Seriously.  Elberta's very first up and running event (friends and family) was held on the owners' anniversary, which is very symbolic as their wedding reception was held in this very same space under the previous banner a few years ago.  How's that for timing?
The lighting design plays a very important role in setting the mood of Elberta particularly for the dinner crowd.  We aim to capture the essence of that beautiful time of day just leading into dusk by using a sprinkling of warm edison bulbs throughout.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
BEFORE.  The afternoon light was decent in the old café but there was a ridiculous glare at a certain hour that we mitigated by tinting the exterior glass on the new façade. 
So here we are.  A few days into the opening of Elberta Restaurant.  She has finally exposed her multi-layered personality.  From the strong-willed temperament that is reflected in the newly designed steely exterior to the soft feminine wiles that is the more intimate back section of the restaurant.  Since we laid the ground work on how we got here in PART 1 of this post, let's take a look at the embodiment of Elberta's physical persona:
Clockwise from Top Left: 1. Material palette; 2. Bathroom walls painted black (a very specific black to match the floor tile) and covered in various vintage frames; 3. Wallpaper being hung by our favourite hanger Chris; 4. We painted white the exposed brick, beams, etc in the dining area to match both wallpapers; 5. A tone on tone textured wallpaper goes up by the bar and 6. Up-close of installed bar top.
Design - Ishka Designs
The material selection came together beautifully once the main element was determined: the bar top.  Fated to be built out of a gorgeous green material made from sorghum stalks, this resilient and beautiful plant by-product became the starting point of the entire palette.  With a focus on the 1920's prohibition period, we felt it only right to bring in metals and brass metallics to complement the bar top and to reflect her tough exterior.  To speak to Elberta's sensuality we married these elements with black and white in various textural forms, from wallpaper to hard laminates to the now beautifully painted brick walls in the dining area and bathroom.  In addition, darkly stained bamboo floors were installed.  Once we peeled back the tough layers, her softer feminine side is reflected in the vibrant floral wallpaper as well as in the beautiful frame details in the more intimate areas of the restaurant.  Overall, we believe we've successfully created a sophisticated environment, from the completely open storefront re-design right through to the black bathroom in the back.  Whether from the images, or your own intimate experience with Elberta, we hope you share our sentiments too.

And here she is, BEFORE & AFTER.  Interior and façade designed by Ishka Designs, captured by our Niya Bascom with styling assistance by Sana Keefer...
BEFORE.  Despite the yellow walls, the old café bar and cash-wrap felt heavy with the dark stained wood and wainscotting.  We kept the TV for the new bar patrons but neatly tucked it away so as to minimize the disturbance to dining patrons.
AFTER.  The brass faced cabinets help to create that early evening glow.  An aside: the bar-front material never turned up so we had to go with plan B, which worked out pretty well to say the least.  The white back wall here is the white textured wallpaper above.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
The daylighting in the restaurant is amazing thanks to the new façade.  To help reflect the light further, we used a subtly antiqued mirror for the bar back.  All told, we employed quite a bit of subtlety throughout this design.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
Thin metal shelves with cove lighting were installed in the bar area below the antique brass faced cabinets.  Subtle lighting under the bar picks up the glass details nicely.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
The kitchen walls when examined up close have a linear textured finish running in alternating directions.  When you visit her, be sure to check it out.  Btw, some of the black squares are actually cupboards.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
BEFORE.  While we have an eclectic sensibility, the mix and match furniture in the old café just didn't work. Not to mention the unflattering light fixtures.
AFTER. Elberta now feels open and bright.  The kitchen, partially exposed, has excellent ventilation.  You are not overwhelmed with cooking smells, though that couldn't hurt :)
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
Though singularly subtle, we stocked up on these multiple light fixtures to create a romantic feel.  The tables were custom built using marine grade plywood topped with a black laminate surface.  Just love how the lines on the plywood play off the bar top.  Details can be seen on our website.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
As you can tell, we really love the light fixtures.  Could not be more happy with this made in the USA product. The brass and black housing with brass coloured cords were the right touches for the space.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
BEFORE.  The café was a haven for those who would rather work in a quiet environment away from home.  Fortunately for these folks a really cool looking café has opened up a few blocks down the road.
AFTER. It is the expectation that the restaurant's new found cohesiveness, once viewed from the street, will attract a wider audience for dinner and brunch.  This long view emphasizes the exposed beams and brick walls leading to the pretty focal wall at back.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
The detailing on the kitchen wall/storage unit is pretty cool.  Antique brass nailheads and laminates, black textures and the bar top material give it a nice depth.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
We can now see upclose the softer side of Elberta towards the back...
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
One of our favourite perspectives in the space.  Very happy with how the textures, patterns and palette came together.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
Yes, there is a chimney and pseudo fireplace.  Very typical of Brooklyn brownstones.  And for those of you who were originally asking, you finally get to see what we did with those vintage frames.
Design - Ishka Designs; Copyright of Niya Bascom Photography; Styling Assistance - Sana Keefer
The remaining images can be found HERE on our website.  Feel free to leave comments below if you have any :)  And yes, Elberta is open to the public...go eat Southern cuisine and support this amazing couple!  Elberta restaurant is located at 335 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn between Prosect Place and Park Place.

One,
idi

Introducing Elberta Part 1

Elberta Restaurant sneak peak 1; Niya Bascom Photography
A few months ago, we were tapped by a progressive Brooklyn couple to transform their existing cafe on Flatbush Avenue into a restaurant and bar serving night-time eaters and the hipster brunch crowd.  Psyched, pumped, amped, we were at once excited and crazed, as we had just signed 2 other major contracts with similar timelines.  With serious confidence in our list making skills and a burning desire to accomplish anything, we jumped right in with both feet.  Reflecting back on the past few months of sleepless nights, constant sketching on the fly, a ridiculous number of on-site visits, a CAD crash, and sweating bullets we are pleased to have reached the point where 2 of the newly signed projects are complete and ready for their world debuts.
Many a late night...
So let's start with the unveiling of "Elberta", the newest Southern restaurant in Brooklyn, NY.  After our first couple of discovery meetings with the clients, we decided that for the kind of impactful change that they were seeking, everything had to go including the name/logo, color palette and the association with cafes and words like peach.  Wouldn't you agree?
Site exterior before.  Elberta was once Velvet Peach Cafe - a day time cafe catering primarily to an early morning crowd, work-from-"home" individuals and those waiting on the bus.
Site interior before.  The once happy yellow and pink interior was overwhelmed by heavy panelling, yucky floors and an uninspired mis-match of furnishings and ad-hoc displays.
Site interior before.  Another shot of the dining area,
With the greenlight for a complete identity overhaul we now had to build the "story".  After days of back and forth with client and The Blue Griffin, our graphics consultant, Elberta (named by the client and personified by IDI) became a realistic character inspiring the look and feel of the restaurant.  So who is she?
Sneak Peak 2; Niya Bascom Photography
- "It is the height of the prohibition period and Elberta, a beautiful blues singer from the south has arrived in New York making waves on the speakeasy circuit.  Her difficult passage north developed her forward thinking free-spirited ways which were only softly tempered by her very feminine and southern charm.  Preferring the hours of dusk through dawn, Elberta is a riveting sensual woman both on-stage and off" -  
Translating to...
Ishka Designs Programming - New Logo designed by our favourite graphics team, The Blue Griffin Inc.
Ishka Designs Programming - Inspiration Board (images taken from various sources on the web - Getty images, etc.)
Ishka Designs Programming - Inspiration board
The design program therefore became a modern mash-up of the South and our interpretation of a post-industrial New York.  What that simply means is that we would honor the existing exposed beams and brick wall with various metals, screws, etc., while layering in southern ideas and sophisticatedly soft elements.  While the design is quite layered, we needed it to appear simplistic and understated - to reflect a vibe that is uniquely Brooklyn.  With concept in place, we spent less than two very precious weeks working through a myriad of floor plans focused primarily on the kitchen layout.  We settled in on a slightly modified footprint with a high-efficiency kitchen and compact bar solution.  It was now time for the fun to begin with contractor, Unique 1 Construction:  

Demolition:  
Clockwise from top left: 1. Wainscot removed to reveal floor to ceiling brick wall - 2. Displays, etc pulled down and sold - 3. Kitchen area gutted and 4. Dining area emptied
Construction:
Starting at top: 1. Construction begins and the new kitchen walls get framed out by Darrin and his team;  2. Our featured kitchen wall got taller to hide mechanicals and deeper to act as a wait station; 3 and 4. Another HVAC was added by the time we got back from overseas. Instead of having yet another ceiling fixture on display we chose to tuck it behind a soffit; and 5.  A few days in, the space begins to take shape.
The beauty about commercial design is the need to get the job done in as short a time as possible with pretty tight budgets.  While this can create limitations, it forces decisions to be made and triggers to be pulled quickly.  The team has to know how to be pro-active as well as reactive.  Like any project, unforeseen site conditions always impact the final design.  This project definitely had it's fair share.  Fortunately, the results worked very much in our favor.  In our next POST we will reveal Elberta.  In the meantime, we leave you with this last sneak peak:
Adding the final touches.  Niya Bascom Photography
One,
idi 

Top 20 African American Interior Designers

The night's brochure and poster with Ishka Design's work on it (bottom right)!
This past weekend was a bit surreal for us.  Actually, the past two weeks really.  Since receiving the call with the amazing news that Ishka Designs was put on a list of Top 20 African-American Interior Designers, we've been walking around in a state of mixed emotions.  Last year's list read like a who's who of leading and up-and-coming stars, so to think that we are a part of this year's list was amazing and worthy of a let's hold my breath til they actually announce the list out loud and on paper.  And that they did.  This past Sunday, interior designer Kimberley Ward of the Pinkegshell blog unveiled her 2012 African-American Top 20 list of Interior Designers and yes, she said the list out loud and published it on paper. Yay!

13 of the 20 Interior Designers on the 2012 list that were in attendance.  
Ishka Designs made it unto a list with such amazing designers as Sheila Bridges, Joy Moyler, Daryl Carter and Roderick Shade, to name just a few.  The wealth of experience and accomplishments on the list has Niya and I truly humbled and honoured.  With just shy of 5 years of real world experience in interior design, this recognition gives us more motivation, commitment and excitement to fuel the passion.

Do what you love.

(See full list here: Pinkegshell and images from the event here: Images)

one,
idi