Saturday, May 21, 2011

Interview: Chris McCloud of Design-6

Have you ever wondered what made the interiors of both of our locations so unique and interesting? Well, the answer is Design-6. Meet Chris McCloud of Design-6- the interior designer of Arcadia!

Combining form and function is critical part of design, no doubt your construction experience played a definitive role in your ability to effectively combine the two- How has your prior experience of working with home construction influenced your interior design aesthetic?
Actually, the combination of Form & Function is what I often tell clients is my greatest strength as a designer and SO important! My background in construction is a key component to design for me. I’ve been on so many jobs where an amazing design has not been properly executed because the installation process was not taken into consideration. With each unique design idea I come up with, I also come up with steps of how I think it can be built - to see design through the eyes of the construction process. Also, one of the biggest challenges in any project is managing the relationships between designers, architects, contractors, vendors and the client. I have worked for vendors, in construction, and now as an interior designer so I can relate to each step of the process. I think it helps me get the most out of the contractors and vendors I work with – since I can see projects for all angles.

What were some challenges you faced while designing the interior of Arcadia while still trying to stay true to your mission to incorporate nature, eco-friendly, and socially responsible elements?
In a word – Budget! As a very small start up business, Arcadia wanted to be as sustainable and green as possible but had a tiny budget. Especially 4 years ago when we designed the first Arcadia store – these things did not go hand in hand. I struggled with this in the beginning, but now with Arcadia and all of my clients I have found ways to design green & affordable. I went back to the basics and used reclaimed, found, and vintage materials that are less expensive and add a lot of character to the design. For example, Arcadia wanted to incorporate elements from nature and live edge wood built ins and shelving. This can be very expensive to buy, but we literally took fallen trees from a farm, had the wood cut for us, and built the shelves ourselves. We took old oil tanks and used them as the base for tables, and in the new Rittenhouse shop we made shelves out of wood from an old barn in Chester County. They are unique and look beautiful!

Besides the drive to utilize elements from nature and eco-friendly materials, what else influences your aesthetic or use of materials?
I’ve always been influenced by the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements. I love how nature can be manipulated and how you can see the construction of materials in the furniture and design elements. These are also timeless styles that have stood the test of time as other interior design trends have come in and out of fashion. When I first started Design 6 I had just traveled a bit through Europe and was very inspired by sites such as the Paris Metro and the home of Victor Horta in Belgium, and inspired locally by the furniture of Wharton Esherick.

I love your use of raw wood with the bark still showing. It makes the most beautiful shelving. What are some your favorite materials to use? 
I love using all species of wood, stone concrete and metal. I also love fabric selection and finding artistic textiles. It is amazing what a truly beautiful fabric on a pillow or window seat can add to a room.

We frequently receive compliments on our extremely unique decor. One my favorite pieces is the two tables in our Northern Liberties store that combine scrap steel, found hardware and finished with a solid wood slab top. They are an interesting, and functional combination of nature and the recycled. What is one of your favorite elements or pieces in the Northern Liberties store? Of our Rittenhouse store? 
I would have to say those tables you mention are definitely a favorite as well as the built in shelves Arcadia uses for denim in the Nolibs store. I had a really difficult time explaining to Ali just how I wanted those shelves to look. I kept saying, picture a tree being pulled apart with the shelves in the center. I think keeping the bark on either ends really brought the vision I had to life.

Do you have any upcoming plans for more renovations for our Rittenhouse location?
No big construction plans at the moment. The Rittenhouse space has been a bit of a challenge for me because it is small and had a lot of the retail fixtures already in place. I am mainly trying to continue to think of ways to take the retail elements already in place and add the Arcadia aesthetic to them. I do like collaborating with the amazing and talented staff at both Arcadia locations and need to come up with creative ideas to draw customers to the 2nd floor retail space in Rittenhouse.
In comparison to designing residential interiors, how was your experience with a retail interior? 
Designing a retail space, is about controlling the way people flow through the space with a hunger to shop and to let the design serve as a backdrop for and a compliment to the merchandise that is for sale. Residential design for me, is very different. It is about making the space itself look terrific and reflect the style of the home owner, while also designing a space that is comfortable for their daily lifestyle. Both are a fun challenge for me.

Do you have any projects in the near future or one that you are currently working on that you are especially excited about? 

I am working on a beach house now, and I love the way it is coming out. It has been an fun project because the client wants the design to work in a seaside setting without a literal nautical or beach theme. They also want the home to be functional for adults and children without sacrificing style. This is always an exciting challenge!

For more information about Design-6, visit their website:

Design 6 is a contemporary design firm focused on offering fresh interior design concepts with an emphasis on sustainable and socially responsible products. We specialize in residential and small commercial interiors and furniture design. Projects range from the eco-chic design concept for Philadelphia’s eco-fashion boutique to a small, rustic cottage in a woodland setting. DESIGN 6 offers a modern perspective while drawing inspiration from past movements such as Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts. By incorporating elements from nature into our designs we can infuse an organic sensibility into our projects.


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