12 Hours on LOL

August 6, 2009

When Amy Jones, Brooklyn’s rapidly rising interior design star informed me of her upcoming trip to Dallas, I quickly offered my tour guide assistance and I knew that the Lower Oak Lawn district was the perfect fit for the occasion.

Known for her transformation of stark DUMBO lofts into cozy nests for the young, hip and design conscious, her rooms are urban with a heavy dash of warm, laid-back country style. As a nod to Amy’s style, we started the day at the Alexan condos on Hi Line drive and my friend Jen was more than ecstatic to show off her new digs.Alexan Condos

We instantly began drooling as we entered the 1000 square foot space. Flooded with light and chic contemporary finishes, you almost forgot to look at the expansive views of uptown and downtown Dallas (though they are just are just as breathtaking).

Brunch was delivered by Translations, a quaint European bistro and market on the border of LOL (us locals refer to Lower Oak Lawn by this cheeky little acronym). Gabbing about all things design while noshing on eggs benedict and steamed asparagus is definitely my ideal brunch!

Translations Bistro

eggs benedictEventually we crossed the street to begin our journey on LOL. First stop was Herman Miller, filled with all the quintessential mid-century goods a designer could yearn for. You can’t leave here without something Eames so Amy snagged one of their iconic lounge chairs (with matching ottoman) and arranged for it to be upholstered in one of their many supple leather choices. I finally caved in and ordered 6 (yes, 6!) of the molded plastic chairs pictured below.

Herman Miller Showroom
Eames_Lounge_chair_1Before we could walk more than two yards, we were in the Ann Sacks showroom which has to be one of the greatest collections of glass tiles on the entire planet. Some women love Louboutin, I love pieces of glass tile in every color imaginable. I will try to refrain from ranting about my desire to cover my entire house with Sacks’ collection of hand-painted tiles!

Ann_Sacks_Capriccio_Kitchen
Ann Sacks showroomWe cross the street and Amy takes off with wild abandonment. She spotted the Renaissance Tile window display and stood frozen with delight. Like a child’s first visit to the 5th Avenue FAO Schwartz store…they just stand there, jaw dropped waiting to enter its magical doors. I introduce Amy to the promise land: the Decorative Center. 7,500 square feet of pure design bliss and at least 100 floor installations. There is nothing you can’t find in this building especially when you have places like Scott & Cooner, Pettigrew Associates and Artemide there to make your biggest dreams come true.

IMG_0023It would take days to describe all the goods Amy ordered but some highlights include the Cappellini Hiip Nesting Tables and Targa Italia Bookie (shelving unit) from Scott & Cooner.

Cappellini Hiip Nesting TablesAnd I have to mention the Miramar chaises from Janus cet Cie. My love for their chaises is beyond words mostly due to the 6 days I spent lounging on them at the Las Ventanas Hotel in Los Cabos, last spring.

las-ventanas-al-paraiso-cabo-mexico

Hours pass and we move on before Amy spends her IRA. We stop in at the Conduit Gallery which is always teeming with interesting contemporary art and artists happy to engage in conversation with patrons. Still in the first two blocks of the district, Amy can’t believe we have yet to get in a car (she thought Texans had to drive everywhere).

After Conduit, we pick up lattes and lemon bars from Koffi, a locally owned coffee shop on the edge of the LOL park. KoffilattesThe park is filled with 100 year-old elm trees that stretch into the air providing a cool canopy from the Texas sun. The perfect place to recharge between shopping sprints and gallery jaunts, we settle into the cushy grass and watch a couple of French bulldogs sunbathe as Amy scribbles ideas in her Moleskine notebook.

park2No visit to the district would be complete without a stop at its antique shops. The prices in these shops are dreamy and so is the stock. From 18th century French chandeliers to Murano glass vases, you can find everything here including 25+ vintage European motorcycles. And I can’t help but mention one of my favorite shops: B. Gover Limited. I’m a complete Francophile and this shop instantly transports me to Montmarte. Rustic French trestle tables, delicate painted birdcages, French lab and apothecary glass…I could go on but you should just stop in and visit Barb because no words could do this heaven justice.

int8int3french trestle tablepainted birdcageIntense shopping induces hunger and thankfully we were in the LOL district where the quality of restaurants is unmatched. Starting with cocktails at the tapas restaurant Tamarindo, the atmosphere was Dallas at its best: casual but stylish, warm and invigorating. Four sangrias, an order of semolina flat bread with fig jam and crostatas topped with grilled eggplant was just the beginning of our gastronomic journey.

tapas restauranttapasAs a die-hard Texan it was imperative that I show Amy (a Yankee) some Texas hospitality and cooking which led us to Sam’s, a gastropub specializing in new-Texas cuisine. Without an once of guilt we dug into the pan-fried meatloaf and whiskey & brown sugar ribs. We finished dinner with strawberry rhubarb pie and Texas martini’s. Amy was so stuffed with strawberries that she could barely mutter the statement that let me know my itinerary was a success: “I love LOL!”

gastropub3As we left Sam’s we were greeted by a lively night in the district. People were falling out of the Dragon street galleries, chattering about all the great contemporary art lining the streets. The evening was cool, the crowd welcoming and of course, it tickled me hot pink that Amy said “This reminds me of Soho”.

moroccan restaurantOur last stop of the night was at Casablanca, the new Moroccan restaurant and lounge near the edge of Dragon street. Casablanca fit us like a cashmere-lined glove. We sipped on St. Germaine Elderflower cocktails and Amy gushed over all the design, art and food she had consumed without even having to start a car engine. Mission accomplished! My guest was stuffed full of all the LOL had to offer and she fell in love with it…just like me!

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