Driving along I-84 through Hartford you can’t help but notice the big white wedding cake of a building near the highway in Parkville, at the corner of Park Street and Bartholomew. What you might not know is that for the past decade this former industrial site has housed an interior design paradise that has truly elevated the quality of interior design in Connecticut.
Founded by Nancy Zwiener and interior designer Richard Ott, DesignSourceCT has upped the knowledge base of area designers and their clients. It has hosted numerous special events and presentations over the years — everything from fabric shows to new collections from luminaries such as Philip Gorrivan and Alexander Julian, workshops on flower arranging by White House floral designer Ruth Loiseau, a seminar by Steve Nobel on how to effectively market and grow one’s interior design business, and educational programs on flooring, rug construction, choosing upholstery, how to work with a designer and more. DesignSourceCT also has sponsored programs for young, aspiring designers, and some of the classes offer designers Continuing Education Units.
The core business — housed in 20,000 square feet of elegant, space with high ceilings, massive pillars and floating fabric panels — is a one-stop, to-the-trade destination. It brims with numerous rows of fabric and wallpaper samples, furniture, lamps, drapery hardware, accessories, and many room vignettes to help inspire ideas.
The quality level is top-notch — fabrics and trims by the likes of Scalamandre, Brunschwig & Fils, Thibaut, Schumacher, Old World Weavers, Lee Jofa and Kravet, the kind of high-end products that once were available only to Connecticut residents and their designers willing to make the trek to New York or Boston. DesignSourceCT became a hub of design in the region, with other design-related businesses — lighting, rugs, custom workrooms — clustering in the same building.
The past 10 years haven’t been a cakewalk, though. DesignSourceCT expanded with some ancillary businesses within the building at 1429 Park St., including a designer consignment shop called Design Finds and a lamp shop. During the challenging economic days of 2009, the business had to retrench and consolidated back to its core.
These days, DesignSourceCT is increasingly open to retail clients who might not have ever worked with a designer before.
“We haven’t thrown the doors open,”Nancy Zwiener told me this week. People still don’t just wander in and shop around on their own.
Rather, DesignSource has added emphasis on its “designer on call” program, headed up by interior designer Nancy Perkins.
She focuses on smaller projects, sometimes simply helping with a floor plan, guiding a customer through the thousands of options available, perhaps designing just one room.
That of course, often leads to another … and another, once clients gain an understanding of how it all works, and that working with a pro often will save them money in the long run and avoid costly mistakes or problems.
“It’s a learning curve,” Nancy Zwiener said. Many people have to overcome a “fear barrier” about working with a professional designer — a trepidation that their own ideas and budget will get lost in the process.
The folks at DesignSourceCT — including the original team of six — celebrated their 10th anniversary this week with ice cream and cookies in that wonderful white layer cake of a building. I’d like to add candles on that cake in their honor! Here’s to many more decades of beautiful, elegant, well-designed success at DesignSourceCT.
DesignSourceCT is at 1429 Park St. in Hartford, 860-951-3145, designsourcect.com
Photos, from top:
The original team at DesignSourceCT, still together after 10 years, celebrate this week: From left, Alice Brash; Kathy Leduc-Silver; co-owners Nancy Zwiener and Richard Ott; Nancy Perkins and Linda Graydon (Photo by NANCY SCHOEFFLER)
Scott Kravet presents a fabric show at DesignSourceCT (Photo by MICHAEL McANDREWS).
Chinese porcelains are among the many accessories on display (Photo by JOHN WOIKE).
Room vignettes (Handout).
Fabric and trim designed by Alexander Julian, shown during his presentation at DesignSourceCT for interior designers (Photo by CLOE POISSON).
A few of the numerous racks of fabric samples at DesignSourceCT (Photo by JOHN WOIKE).
Below, Richard Ott and Nancy Zwiener ham it up in 2005, shortly after they opened DesignSourceCT (Photo by SHANA SURECK).