Welcome to the land of margaritas, cowboy boots, music, armadillos–and really awesome modern design. I moved to Austin four years ago never in a million years thinking I would stumble across such talent, creativity and dedication. And the best part: Austin doesn’t try to be like other bigger cities–this constantly evolving style is always changing, but it’s always ours.
So what is this mythical Austin aesthetic we keep hyping? We’re not afraid of bold color and we embrace our natural surroundings for inspiration with materials and more. We love incorporating designs from around the world but support local designers and craftsman whenever possible. We love music, good drinks and good food, and our spaces–both residential and commercial–are often designed with entertaining in mind.
Welcome to 2Modern’s first modern city guide. We’ll be bringing you mini tours of some of our favorite cities and some of the fun, modern things to do/sleep/eat/drink/shop within. “Modern” of course is pretty relative, and we look forward to seeing how that word is defined by each city and each region. We’re not even going to promise we’ll cover everything in each city–this isn’t so much comprehensive as it is a sweet little taste of some of the modern details in cities we love. SXSW 2011 is right around the corner, where tons of folks will descend upon the city to interact, listen to music and watch films. We highly recommend you grab our suggestions here for a fun, modern stay–though since you’ll probably be pretty busy for SXSW, we suggest coming back when you can enjoy all of Austin’s modern details when you’re more relaxed!
Trying to pick only three restaurants in Austin is like trying to pick a favorite child. We chose these three based on that awesome chill we get every time we see the interiors. And it doesn’t hurt that the food is delicious, too. La Condesa and Uchiko were both designed by that fabulous architect Michael Hsu, and La Boîte by architect Mark Meyer. If you’re here for SXSW, note that Uchiko is a bit out of the way, so try SushiBOX, a trailer located just downtown and designed by La Boîte’s architect, for a modern sushi fix.
When you think high-end place to stay in Austin, you think Liz Lambert, and with good reason. She’s the creative hotelier behind Austin’s fabulously modern Hotel St. Cecilia and Hotel San Jose. Both exude a perfect example of casual, modern Austin aesthetic, and they’re both located in a hip part of Austin. Kimber Modern is a more subtle, tucked away bed and breakfast that features gorgeously clean interiors with pops of bold, bright colors, all tucked away in a residential neighborhood and hugged by big oak trees. Looking for a more “home away from home” feel? Try Verde Camp, where you can rent small little bungalows and drink Lone Stars (the official beer of Texas) on the porch.
It’s true there’s an abnormally high number of margaritas to be found in this city…but that’s not the only thing we use to whet our whistle here. Two new arrivals in the “bar with modern decor” category are Haddington’s and Second Bar and Kitchen. The Highball’s a hip, retro throwback (and you can totally bowl and do karaoke, too) and the Snack Bar is a casual place with sweet Mid-Century Modern details and an awesome patio. After you’ve taken in all the modern details you can and ready to enjoy more drinks, modern interior or not, head on over to where the locals go, the other Sixth Street.
While here, we highly suggest trying to attend a taping at the new Austin City Limits Live venue in downtown. Not only will you catch a good show, you’ll enjoy crawling around that area. The Mexican American Cultural Center is a surprisingly modern structure set on the banks of the lake and full of fun art. And you can’t visit Austin without seeing the fabulously modern new home for the Arthouse museum, located just blocks from the capitol building.
- Arthouse at the Jones Center
- Mexican American Cultural Center
- New Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater
If you’re looking for some of the biggest names in global design and some of the coolest people who create locally, Aviary is the place to go. Oh…and they happen to also be a cool bar and lounge, too. Barry Jelinski’s Howl is a crazy cool store that embodies the “keep Austin weird” spirit. Threshold is one of the best places to go for high-end style in the city, and their in-store designers have the best attitudes and advice. Believe us when we say these are only three from a ton of cool stores to choose from.
To check out the gazillion food trailers out here (way too many for us even to venture to choose one). To go to Barton Springs if the weather permits. To watch the bats fly if the season’s right and…to have a ton of fun.
A video with tons more modern Austin photos:
A map for your navigating pleasure:
View (Modern) Austin in a larger map
Austinites and Austin lovers: speak up! Did I make amazing suggestions? Really dumb ones? Have some SXSW experience under your belt and want to weigh in on your own favorite modern Austin haunts? Please contribute in the comments your favorite suggestions!