From the category archives:

New Construction

I recently was interviewed for the September 16th issue of Rochester Business Journal via a phone call with Debbie Walzer, a freelance writer.  As always, when I can preach about the value of good design to a sympathetic ear I am at no loss for words.  I didn’t have a clue what the article was going to focus on, but as long it was about design then I was happy.

“Interior design projects without guidance pose risks” Working with no plan can mean losing sight of the big picture, designers say….and so the article began.  Particularly fascinating to me is that three interior designers (one of them me) were interviewed independently and we shared very similar experiences.  Heather DeMoras’ solution for clients without a plan is straightforward: “Work with a professional to create a long-term plan, which can be executed over time and in the end, a well-conceived plan will save you money.”  Jason Longo’s advice: “Invest in a good interior designer and the expertise will help you understand the value of this profession.”

In my personal experience, the most successful results are achieved when the client hires interior design services in the beginning of a project.  In the case of a new build, this can sometimes mean joining the design team when the preliminary architectural drawings are done.  Unfortunately, too many people resist hiring a designer until they have already made many costly mistakes.  There is always something I can do to remedy the problem but usually the room will never achieve its full potential that would have been achievable if the project got off to the right start.

The following drawings are examples of how I begin designing a room.  First I begin with the floor plan and furniture arrangements.  You will see the shape of the new built-in cabinetry in this family room.  The fireplace is the only thing that exists in the current space.  Since the room is quite large, the furniture arrangement is created to achieve a conversational grouping and yet the primary seating faces the TV or the fireplace.  To add additional character to the room and create a cozy intimate feeling in a space of this size, I decided to show my clients how the room would look if we continued the woodwork all around the room.  They loved the idea and after finessing the designs, a local woodworker was hired to build the custom cherry cabinetry and frame and panel walls.  With all this beautiful cherry in the room, we were struggling to find the right size end tables in the right style, so I designed a pair of tables that my woodworker will create as well.  You might be thinking that custom furniture would be extremely expensive, but his price was competitive with similar tables that we saw in stores, plus my clients think “it’s really cool” to know the person who made their furniture.

Family Room Floor Plan

Design for Built-in Cabinetry

Design for Cherry End Tables

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

America's Coolest Stores 2010

1: Take-Your-Breath-Away Entrance

On entering Cornell’s, customers pass through a small antechamber that leads to the main showroom — an airy chapel-like space with a soaring double-height ceiling and huge suspended light so!t. Olivia says the dramatic transition still takes her breath away and validates their decision to invest in the complex engineering that was required to pull it off”. (The 1-ton soffit had to be hoisted up by a genie lift and is held in place by aviation cable and a custom-designed frame.) The grand feeling of space above amplifies the intimate feel of the “shop-in-shops” and boutiques below. “The goal was to have spatial surprises,” Olivia says.

2: The Future of Jewelry Retail

Want to see the future of jewelry retail? Come to Rochester. Starfire glass, which avoids glare for security cameras and supports true color rendition of the merchandise, is used in all the casework. An Eyeson security system monitors the store via more than 120 cameras (and also allows management to revisit sales situations to scrutinize everything from a staff member’s body language to sales protocol). CyberLock electronic keys gauge casework use and track threshold door use. High-efficiency HVAC and economizers pump fresh air into the store in the cooler months while the lighting counters seasonal affective disorder, helping staff and customers feel more energetic. Cornell’s was also one of the first stores in America to employ articulating LED task lights, which not only flatter the wearer but make the diamonds “pop,” David says.

3: The Watch Tower

Cornell’s Jewelers had its beginnings in a watch repair service started in 1923 by David’s father, Harry, who is still alive at 103, although not surprisingly no longer involved in the store’s operation. That history is hinted at by the store’s most prominent exterior feature — a three-story-high clock tower. The tower serves double-duty as a special events billboard for the 60,000 commuters who pass the store daily.

4: The Vault

Anchoring the store is a Class III vault that weighs 186,000 pounds. The vault pieces were delivered on three semitrailers, and each module was put into position by a crane and secured by more than 4,000 feet of welds. “Our building is literally built around this massive piece of equipment,” Olivia says.

5: Diamond Lounges

For much of its history, the Cornell family business involved trading diamonds on a wholesale basis. The shift to focus exclusively on retail came in 1997, some 13 years after David had taken over the firm. Nevertheless, diamond-related sales, in particular bridal and engagement, remain a principal source of earnings and a passion for David, a former member of the New York Diamond Dealers Club. The decision to place the diamond division on the second floor was thus made with some trepidation, and helps to account for the detail that went into its planning. “My inspiration was actually Cheers, the TV program,” says David, explaining he wanted to create a friendly atmosphere where at the same time people wouldn’t feel like other customers were looking over their shoulder. The solution was a series of islands with the showcase glass set high at 42 inches above the floor “to get the product close to people’s eyes,” he says.

What The Judges Say

Gurhan: Cornell’s Jewelers is exactly what a fine jewelry store should look like. It is elegant, sophisticated, and the perfect setting for my designs.

Wendy Furrer: Cornell’s Jewelers is a classic, beautiful store. I absolutely love the TV lounge area — it’s a must-have for any cool store. The exterior is lovely — it’s inviting and elegant, as I am drawn to the clock and beautiful front door.

Bess Anderson: A neutral, residential color palette where the execution of di”erent textures and finishes work together to create an amazing, elegant, tactile experience. The environment is warm, inviting, and allows for merchandise to be beautifully presented. The open floor plan is welcoming, and I love the offset, almost private seating/family room area that provides intimate customer service when needed. National brands merchandised within wall cabinets were tastefully done and gave each brand equal in-store status. Brilliant design and attention to detail — even down to the pull handle on the upholstered chairs.

Jean Philippe Meunier: Cornell’s Jewelers is a picture of elegance and sophistication. In two tones of white and beige brick, the exterior is a mini clock tower surrounded by pleasant manicured gardens. The same color theme is extended into the interior and perfectly maintains harmony and tasteful elegance. The use of classical design elements, for example in the columns, display cases and fireplaces and tastefully modern furniture in the showroom and lounges make for a sophisticated and comfortable environment.

Candy Udell: The store showed a very strong relationship between the design of the exterior and the interior. While showing a very traditional look for both, it still incorporates unique designs and a high-tech approach. The interior is very warm and elegant and clearly demonstrates that this is a house of luxury. There is a strong residential element that gives the entire store an inviting and welcoming look. They have taken their tradition in the area and put it into a fully modern location.

Reprinted from INSTORE Magazine – August Issue 2010 – The magazine for the American Jewelry Store Owner

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Cool Store of the Year Award

August 1, 2010

A two-year remodeling mission results in one of the most jaw-dropping stores in America. There are remodels that are a little like a scheduled maintenance upgrade. And then there are those that go far beyond a lick of fresh paint or a new coffee corner and become an all-consuming life-changing adventure. The two-year renovation of […]

Read the full article →

When Only The Finest Will Do

June 1, 2010

A visit to Cornell’s jewelers has always been a magical, wonderful experience. Expect it to be even more so now, thanks to a grand renovation completed in the Fall of 2009, just in time for the holidays. David and Olivia Cornell welcome you to their brand-new showroom at 3100 Monroe Avenue, in suburban Rochester. As […]

Read the full article →

Sparkle & Glow-Lighting a Jewelry Store

November 27, 2009

~Part Three~ Lighting  Cornell’s Jewelers was a great opportunity to use many lighting techniques because the Cornell’s were willing to experiment with the latest lighting technologies.  Working with Kovalsky Carr and technical departments of several lighting manufacturers, we was able to borrow light fixtures to create a variety of mock-ups. To help decide on the […]

Read the full article →

Show & Tell: Lighting a Jewelry Store

October 17, 2009

~Part Two~ I finally had my opportunity to meet with David and Olivia Cornell.  The three main criteria for lighting the new store was: make it brighter, make it bluer (which showed off the diamonds better) and decrease the amount of heat generated by the light fixtures.  I presented my ideas to create a successful […]

Read the full article →

Setting the Stage: Lighting a Jewelry Store

September 28, 2009

~Part One~ I had noticed the dust and rubble surrounding Cornell’s Jewelers for several months so it came as quite a surprise when the Cornells called me to discuss their project.   They informed me that their store fixture designer had provided them with a lighting plan but  they weren’t convinced it would remedy their […]

Read the full article →

Team Spirit

September 19, 2009

As an experienced builder of high-end residential homes, Dominick understands the value of selecting your team members and coordinating all phases of the design before the shovel hits the ground. His approach to a project is: “Begin with the end in mind”.  When building a new home, many people begin with an architect and a […]

Read the full article →