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5 Places to Find Design Inspiration This Holiday Season

Here are some of the finest and funkiest items we found on the Design Crawls at this year's DesignPhiladelphia festival. The designers and shops featured here have more like these.

Furniture from Algottson Design graced a pop-up “designer showhouse” in a condo at Kensington Yards on a DesignPhiladelphia Design Crawl. See below for details. | Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise indicated

This year’s DesignPhiladelphia festival is now just a fond memory, but one of the best elements of the festival were the Design Crawls — traveling First Friday-style evenings that showcased the breadth and depth of Philadelphia’s design community. Of course, this community includes those who design and sell inspired furnishings and decorative objects for your home.

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These items especially caught our fancy as we dropped into stores, homes and workshops in various parts of the city. All are functional and stylish, and some are downright fun. Want more inspiration? Visit these stores or their neighbors and put together your own personal Design Crawl.

(above) Have a modern sensibility and a taste for the classics at the same time? Algotsson Design satisfies both desires with Sharne Algotsson’s minimalist and midcentury-inspired creations. Algotsson assembled this bedroom for a one-night-only “designer showhouse” at Kensington Yards. Left to right: “Audrey” nightstand, $399 at West Elm; original headboard covered with a midcentury-inspired pattern from Sweden, $1,500; “Porter” ottoman at foot of bed, upholstered in chenille, $1,500; “Bat Chair,” a design Algotsson introduced in 2004 based on a vintage wingback armchair, upholstered in wool flannel, $2,800; “Jorid” tray table, $49.99 at Ikea Conshohocken. The lamps are vintage lamps not for sale. Prices for custom pieces vary according to choice of fabric. The former proprietor of Twist in Washington Square West now does business online.

Or, if you prefer your midcentury modern straight up, consider picking up some classic originals from At Home Modern, the Fishtown boutique that specializes in vintage modern furniture from the latter half of the 20th century. When we visited, we found this attractive ensemble consisting of a 1970s chrome base sofa with new upholstery ($2,800), a vintage Lucite and glass coffee table ($595), a Brutalist table sculpture ($895), a midcentury Danish teak credenza ($1,995) topped by a pair of vintage marble lamps ($595), and a 1980s brass floor lamp ($95), all complemented by an antique Persian rug ($795). The artwork in the photo was also available for purchase. Designer-owner Bobbie Ann Tilkens-Fisher has made comfortable and inviting modern design her specialty ever since she decorated and furnished her own former midcentury modern home. The selection changes constantly, so you may find other items just as appealing now at At Home Modern, 526 E. Girard Ave., Fishtown. You can also shop her boutiques online on Chairish and 1stDibs.

Like the tiles in the classic Chinese puzzle game, the pieces in Roche Bobois‘ iconic Mah Jong sectional sofa can be combined and stacked to create room environments to match any mood. This year, Roche Bobois invited Japanese designer Kenzo Takada to put a distinctly Eastern spin on Hans Hopfer’s original design. Using fabrics and patterns inspired by Japanese kimonos, Takada has created three distinct collections with color palettes designed to reflect the times of the day. Shown here: “Yoru” (evening). The collection also comes in “Asa” (morning) and “Hiru” (midday). Prices available on request from Roche Bobois, 315 Arch St., Old City.

Think of this as what might have happened if James Carville and Mary Matalin had designed a loveseat.  This whimsical design from French furniture studio Petite Friture takes a standard modern design and gives it a colorful twist that will enliven even the most boring of rooms. Petite Friture’s collection showcases designs by emerging talents that grab your attention and make statements about everyday life. $3,555 at Millésimé, 33 N. 2nd St., Old City.

Little touches can make a big difference in rooms large and small, and these air plants from VIX Emporium add a touch of color and life to any room. These plants need little attention, making them ideal for even brown thumbs who nonetheless want some greenery in their living spaces. They’re among the hundreds of items, most of them produced by Philadelphia-based artists and craftsmen, you can find for your home, your body, and gift-giving at this truly unique boutique. $10 and up at VIX Emporium, 5009 Baltimore Ave., Cedar Park.


Sandy Smith Home and Real Estate Editor @MarketStEl
ssmith@phillymag.com