Sunday, September 23, 2012

Baltimore Design Soiree

Autumn rolled in at 10:49 Saturday morning. A Canadian cold front rolled in at 6:00 p.m. Saturday night, just in time for the Baltimore Design Soiree, a quarterly gathering of artisans from broadly varied disciplines (everything from jewelry, sculpture and woodworking to architecture and digital advertising). This diverse collection of designers and architects meets on the cusp of each equinox and solstice to present their latest projects and receive constructive feedback in a low-key environment that typically includes finger food and libations. The venue varies from soiree to soiree, as various participants seek to show off their studios or introduce attendees to new and intriguing locales in the Baltimore area.  I hosted the fall design soiree at my rustic farmhouse in Baltimore County last year. 
With this year's autumnal equinox falling on a Saturday night, the mood was festive. The night’s host, architect Randy Sovich, took us to a rooftop – the roof of the Natty Boh tower to be specific, a lofty perch atop a classic industrial (National Bohemian) brewery transformed several years ago into upscale office space. From our outdoor roost some eight stories above Baltimore’s Brewer's Hill neighborhood in Canton, our group of fifteen or so enjoyed breathtaking views of the cityscape pulsing below as we sipped wine and sampled architect Peter Fillat’s delicious pork roast and some delightful sides.
Not on the agenda but equally awe-inspiring was a bird’s eye view of the approaching cold front as it threatened us alternately with strong winds and intermittent rain – sometimes both at once. Racing to cover food and projection equipment and keep said articles from blowing over the roof's perimeter occupied the better part of the first hour we were there. But eventually the storm passed, the wind died down and we were left to enjoy fascinating presentations of the participants’ latest design projects beneath the neon glow of the iconic Natty Boh man's winking eye just a few feet above our heads.
For the evening's get-together I chose dark-washed Levi’s Perfectly Slimming 512 Bootcut jeans and a turquoise ribbed knit tank by Faded Glory, over which I tied a filmy rayon wrap in blue and white that I purchased at Chico's to wear to a wedding in Philadelphia several years ago.  I added strappy heeled sandals by Lucky Brand Blue Jeans America and slipped on a blue tiled bracelet and some black feathered hoop earrings with turquoise beads. 
As the gale on the rooftop began to blow my hair around, I removed my sheer shrug and used it to tie my hair back so I could enjoy eating without errant strands wooshing across my face.  And once the cold front moved through and calm was restored, the evening's temperature dropped a bit, so I untied the shawl from my hair and repositioned it around my shoulders, proving how versatile and perfect for the occasion this accessory turned out to be.

The evening's presentations were fascinating: an innovative design for the hospitality industry, an imaginative new advertising campaign, the conversion of an outdated hotel into student housing for a Virginia university, a refreshing take on a new elementary school gymnasium and some finely crafted wood side tables. All were solid examples of the collective artistry enjoyed by this heterogeneous group.  An enjoyable evening, indeed.

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