Modern Boston

Architecture & Interiors

2Modern Design Talk is taking you on a little tour across the United States, looking for the best in modern lifestyle resources by major metropolitan city. We are starting with Seattle and zigzagging
our way to Boston. If you have any suggestions for our directory, which we will be constantly improving and adding, please let us know by providing comments
to the posts.

Modern Boston
+ Cambridge, MA

By: Holly Becker, decor8

Print this out on your next trip to Boston, you’ll be sure to return home with fond memories, great photos, lots of fresh finds, and an incentive to return! When you arrive, take a duck tour as soon as you can – educational, fun, and really helps you learn your way around our beautiful city as quick and painless as possible. You’ll love it.

Boston_becker1Remember, when you’re in Boston looking for modern design, think Beacon Hill, Newbury Street and the South End. Just over the Charles River, also hit Cambridge – home to Harvard Square and MIT. You can access all areas via the "T", our subway system. It’s wicked easy to get around here, and by the way, we say wicked a lot, along with pahk instead of park and cah instead of car. But, with so many transplants moving in, our beautiful Boston accent isn’t as obvious as it once was, but if you do come across someone who doesn’t seem to pronounce the letter R, you know you’ve met a true native.  Those are the ones to ask for directions!

I suggest you begin your journey in Beacon Hill, working your way over to Newbury Street (stop by Cheers and visit the Boston Public Garden, home of the swan boats, on your journey) and after shopping Newbury, have someone point you to Commonwealth Avenue. Great street for browsing brownstones and experiencing Boston charm. Marlborough Street is another favorite of mine, runs parallel to Comm. Ave.  Many photo opportunities. After seeing how the locals live (this area is called the Back Bay for your information), walk back over to Newbury Street until you find Dartmouth Street. It’s pretty easy to navigate this area since the streets are alphabetized. Dartmouth Street spills you directly out into Copley Square. To the right is the Boston Public Library. To the left, Trinity Church and the looming presence of the John Hancock Tower (great observatory, too!). If you walk straight and bear right after the library, you’ll enter the Copley Place Mall which eventually leads you the Shops at Prudential Center. Lots to see and eat in these huge shopping malls! Afterwards, the nearby South End awaits you for lots of modern design jewels. (More to follow about Copley and Prudential below).
Here are some of my favorites around town:


Modern Furniture + Gift Stores in Boston:

Adesso, 200 Boylston Street
(Near Newbury Street).
Aunt Sadies, 18 Union Park Street (South End). Way more than candles, this place sells gifts that rock in the heart of the charming South End.
Black Ink, 101 Charles Street (Beacon Hill).
Bliss Home, 121 Newbury Street (Newbury Street). As seen in Domino magazine.
Fresh Eggs, 58 Clarendon Street (South End). Stylish home accessories and more.
Good, 88 Charles Street (Beacon Hill).
I just love this intimate home decor store. Lovely clean modern designs.
Design Within Reach, 519 Tremont Street (South End). Beautiful buzz-generating modern design store. Also over the river in Cambridge, too.

Lekker, 1317 Washington Street (South End). Modern decor and lots of fresh Dutch and German designs.
Kartell, 10 St. James Street (downtown). Modern design kings from Italy.

Koo de Kir, 65 Chestnut Street (Beacon Hill).  Wallpaper, Travel & Leisure and Home Furnishings Today list them among the "World’s Best" for Home Accessories.

Louis Boston, 234 Berkeley Street (off of Newbury Street) Love this store – a must visit. Beautiful building, too!

M2L – 104 Boylston Street (also near Newbury Street).

Madura, 144 Newbury Street (Newbury Street). Oh la la textiles from France. Don’t visit Boston without peeking in at Madura.

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, 142 Berkeley Street (South End). Elegant sophisicated furnishings. Great prints. Sumptuous. Awarded Best of Boston 2005.

Montauk Sofa, 52 Boylston Street (near Newbury Street).
Paper Source, 338 Boylston Street (near Newbury Street). This paper store will wrap you up for hours. You’ll love it. Don’t miss. They carry ceramics, books, offer classes, and have the most helpful staff in town. Also located in Cambridge, Brookline and Wellesley.

Red River Trading Company, 1313 Washington Street (South End, next door to Lekker).

Roche Bobois, 585 Commercial Street. Over by the water behind the North End. Grab a cannoli at Mike’s Pastry (famous for the best cannoli’s in town) and head over to Roche Bobois.

Sedia, 535 Albany Street (South End). Reproductions of 20th century modern furniture and lighting. Located off of Massachusetts Avenue in the South End a block or so from Harrison Avenue.

Shoomine, 8 Park Plaza (downtown). Upscale and drool-worthy.
Showroom, 240 Stuart Street (downtown).
Again, upscale and double-drool.
Simplemente Blanco – 46 Waltham Street, Studio 203 (South End). Call to make an appointment to view this studio. The owner, Fernanda Bourlot, is wonderful and her textiles and accessories are clean, modern and simple. Lots of white. Love it.

Vellum, 55 Dartmouth Street (South End). Modern paper and gifts. Yum!

Vessel,  125 Kingston Street (Chinatown). Love this store, you will too. This is their flagship store and main office. After picking up some fusionware and candeloo lights, head over to Hei La Moon at 88 Beach Street for delicious authentic chinese cuisine. It’s my favorite stop!

Modern Furniture + Gift Stores just over the river in Cambridge:

Abodeon, 1731 Massachusetts Avenue
Black Ink, 5 Brattle Street, Cambridge (Harvard Square)

Design Within Reach, 1030 Massachusetts Avenue
Museum of Useful Things (aka the MUT), 49b Brattle Street  (Harvard Square)

Bowl + Board, 1063 Massachusetts Avenue
Joie de Vivre, 1792 Massachusetts Avenue
Paper Source, 1810 Massachusetts Avenue.
Pompanoosuc Mills, One Kendall Square, Bldg 300 Suite 313. Stunning furniture, amazing craftsmanship, handmade in Vermont.
Reside, 266 Concord Avenue. Mid century modern lovers shop here.

Modern Art & Museums:

Jules Place, 1200 Washington Street, Loft #204 (South End) Diagonally across from Lekker and the Red River Trading Company . A massive loft space filled with art for sale. Stunning collection. By appointment only. Check their website for show schedule.

TIP: After viewing fine art at Jules, stop next door for cocktails at the Red Fez. Great nighttime hangout and yummy food. Drinks that are nice and boozy. You’ll like it.
Museum of Fine Art , 465 Huntington Avenue.
Institute of Contemporary Art, 955 Boylston Street (closed until September 2006 while new art museum is being built, grand opening in September 2006 – can’t wait!)
Boston Center for the Arts 539 Tremont Street (South End).


Modern (and not so modern) Architecture:

Check out the Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street. Stunning building outside, splendid inside. Enter via the Dartmouth Street entrance near the lions.

TIP: This area is called Copley Square, located one block of Newbury Street. There are several architectural highlights in this square, from the Trinity Episcopal Church dating back to the late 1800s, to the towering John Hancock building, it’s modern lines in sharp contrast to Trinity Church. Be sure to snap a photo of these two together. Walk over to the Copley Square hotel for a taste of times’ past, too. This hotel opened its doors back on July 4, 1891. Copley Square also has an indoor shopping complex with hotels, upscale stores (Tiffany’s, Armani, Coach, Barney’s to name a few, along with several restaurants. The Copley Mall entrance to the left of the main entrance to the Boston Public Library, and it connects you to the Shops at Prudential Center via a glass tunnel built over Huntington Avenue. These shops are more affordable than the ones found at Copley, and include Jasmine Sola, Ann Taylor, Sephora, and many others, along with a Barnes + Noble book store and the Cheesecake Factory, Dick’s Last Resort, Legal Seafood’s, California Pizza Kitchen and an entire food court area. Make sure you ask someone where to locate the entrance to the Prudential building and take the elevator to the Top of the Hub for a full city view and a great martini. The views from Top of the Hub are to die for – you have to journey up to the hub!

Oh, and don’t miss our newest addition – the Zakim bridge. For a complete guide to Boston Architecture, click here.

Modern Architects + Designers:
Arclinea,  10 St. James Avenue. Specializing in contemporary innovative kitchen design.

Boston Architectural Center, 320 Newbury Street, Boston.

decor8 interiors, hip + cre8tive spaces on a budget. Interior design consultant and editor of decor8.
Boston Design Center, Designer On Call program.
Koo de Kir, 65 Chestnut Street (Beacon Hill).  Wallpaper, Travel & Leisure and Home Furnishings Today list them among the "World’s Best" for Home Accessories. Also offers interior design services.
Pompeii Design Group, 15 Savoy Street, Suite 308. The Principle Designer, John Pompeii, studied under Architectural Digest’s legendary "Top 100" designer William Hodgins.
Simplemente Blanco – 46 Waltham Street, Studio 203 (South End). Call to make an appointment to view this studio. The owner, Fernanda Bourlot, is wonderful and her textiles and accessories are clean, modern and simple. Also offers design services.

Sugarman Design Boston, Architect in the South End.
There Design, 244 Brighton Ave., Studio 105. Architecture + Interior Design.


Modern Etc:

Boston Design Center, 78 showrooms, open to the public. Located near the World Trade Center.

Croma, 269 Newbury Street, Boston.
My favorite (and inexpensive) posh place for a quick bite.

If you’re interested in all things relating to interior design and decorating, visit Holly Becker’s design blog, decor8, at http://www.decor8.blogspot.com

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  1. Gradon

    Dec 14, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    Holly, great write up, but I think there’s another Boston-based design blog up now. ;)

  2. decor8 holly

    Dec 15, 2006 at 7:41 am

    i updated it for ya :)

  3. Interiors Furniture

    Jan 13, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Interiors Furniture

    While on the other hand, an interior designer would actually design exclusive

  4. Peter

    Jul 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Hey, don’t forget BG Galleries – antiques, vintage & modern design in Hingham, MA just 11 miles south of Boston and an easy peasey Commuter Boat one-stop ride from the Boston Harbor Hotel.

    BG Galleries offers a curated collection of the finest and most sought after designer furniture and lighting by Italian, French, American, Scandinavian and Brazilian design luminaries of the 20th century.

    Mid-Century Modern Boston, just south of Boston. Take the Commuter Boat from Rowe’s Wharf which disembarks 30 feet from BG Galleries’ front door. Take an extended lunch break, catch the 11am boat and be back at your desk by 3pm.

    BG will show you how to mix it up! See their impressive collection of 18th & 19th century English and Continental furniture as well.

    Housed in a 6500 sq foot double showroom in the new Hingham Shipyard development on Rt. 3A, BG Galleries is Boston’s (and New England’s) best kept secret resource for interior designers, architects, collectors, set designers and enthusiasts of high glam vintage, modern and period design.

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