St. Paul craft show highlights rooms for entertaining – and craft beer

  • Article by: KIM PALMER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 5, 2014 - 3:37 PM

Designers create rooms for entertaining, inspired by artisan pieces, for annual show.

A wood sculpture by Jim Keller will be featured in a room by designer Desi Creswell.

When friends come over, where do you hang out? Does the room need a little something — a focal point or conversation piece?

Handcrafted artisan objects can inject personality into a space and make it come alive for you and your guests. That’s the theme of this year’s American Craft Council (ACC) Show, where local designers have created 10 room vignettes, designed for entertaining — from a cozy brunch gathering to a glam cocktail soiree.

“We let the designers go wild,” said Pamela Diamond, ACC’s director of marketing. Participating designers were encouraged to think outside the living-room box and envision different spaces for entertaining, she said. The only rule was that each room had to be inspired by a few craft pieces, from pottery to lighting to textiles.

“I love to design that way,” said Mike Smith, owner of Forage Modern Workshop in Minneapolis, who designed the brunch vignette. “When we’re doing design work for a client, we’re always looking for a meaningful piece in their life. It makes it something deeper — instead of just filling a room with cool stuff we like.”

Carter Averbeck, owner of Omforme Design, used a carved-wood sculpture as the starting point for his design. “I’m an artist myself, so I focus on art first and design around that,” he said. “Unless you have a fabulous fireplace, good art should always be the focal point.”

The 10 designer vignettes will offer ideas on how to combine unusual artisan-made pieces with other items to create a distinctive look. “When you design a room, not every piece is a craft or an antique,” Diamond said. “It’s like fashion — you mix and match, couture with thrift store.” The room vignettes are designed to be interactive, with some designers hosting “parties” in their spaces during the show.

And if you want to create your own party, this year’s show includes a new attraction: a Craft Beer Taproom, where Beer Dabbler, a local organization that promotes the culture of craft beer, will host daily tastings of offerings from nine local microbreweries. The Taproom itself also is getting the designer treatment, from Brownsmith Restoration, Smith’s remodeling company, featuring handcrafted bars designed by artist/furniture maker Willie Willette of Willie Willette Works, Minneapolis. The bars will be clad in wood tiles, created from nine species of local wood donated by Wood From the Hood, Willette said.

Smith hopes the show opens visitors’ eyes to the quality of furniture and other items being crafted locally. “There’s a lot of great design happening in the Midwest,” he said. “Nationally, a lot of it is overlooked, and even locally, which is worse. A lot of people love midcentury modern, but great design is also happening today. In 40 years, people will be collecting these.”

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784

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