Even if you’ve never heard the names Jeremy Bauer and Jason Clifton, you’re probably familiar with their work. If you’ve eaten at Zen or the Sandpiper Cafe, shopped at Choco Boutique or attended a Wearable Arts show at Centennial Hall, you’ve seen their designs in practice.
High-profile projects like local restaurants and shops make up only about 10 percent of the Bauer and Clifton portfolio, however; most of their work takes place in private homes, and runs the gamut from simple color consultation to complete remodeling jobs — moving walls, adding windows — with a shared focus on creating comfortable, functional and pleasant spaces in which to live.
Last week, the firm’s public profile expanded in a new direction, giving more Juneauites direct access to their services. They’ve moved their base of operations out of their home office and into a storefront downtown on Second Street, across from Silverbow Bakery. The new space will act as both office and showroom, offering clients a chance to peruse samples of everything from tile to cabinetry, window coverings to couches.
“The philosophy behind the space is that it certainly has to function as far as us working in our office on a daily basis, while also incorporating the storage needs and the display needs (of the showroom),” Clifton said.
Through a network of business accounts set up all across the country, the design team can offer locals a wide range of custom-made options for the home or office, with a minimal turn-around time (45 days for a couch, for example). And the products offered through the showroom aren’t just for the firm’s active clients — anyone can make an appointment. (Because the space also houses their office, appointments are encouraged.) Those who buy something, have the option of continuing the installation process on their own or through one of Bauer and Clifton’s local partners.
Bauer added that the core of the business — offering personalized residential design service to clients — has not changed.
“It’s still going to be the exact same process. We’re still going to walk people all the way through the design process.”
The pair celebrated their grand opening at the space last week with a private party, complete with champagne tasting, and hope to open the doors in to a wider crowd during Gallery Walk.
Not surprisingly, the new space gives visitors a sense of Bauer and Clifton’s approach to design — in other words, it doesn’t look much like a typical showroom. An original 1910-era pressed tin ceiling has been updated with glossy white paint. The wallls are painted several shades of warm grey. A bank of windows runs along the long wall on the Main Street side, bringing lots of natural light into the space. And a variegated brown floor covering unifies the different tones of wood on display, creating cohesion throughout the space.
Similar design elements can be found in many of the firm’s projects. The duo favors warm, subdued colors, natural wood, and clean, modern lines, and stresses the idea of continuity and flow between adjacent spaces in people’s homes.
“Essentially the ultimate goal is to create a better connection throughout a space,” Clifton said.
A connection between the kitchen and living area is especially vital, Bauer said.
“In some of the older homes, the kitchen was something that was put away,” he said. “Nowadays, the kitchen is where everybody hangs out. If you don’t make that kitchen connect with your living space, you’re not going to be successful.”
Bauer, who has a dual degree in architecture and architectural engineering, usually focuses on the overall structure and use of a space, while Clifton, trained in interior design, tends to take on design elements such as color, balance and flow. Or, put more succinctly by Clifton, “As we like to say, he’s function, and I’m form.”
The pair recently returned from trade shows in Paris and Milan, and said they were pleasantly surprised to discover that trends in America are pretty much in line with those in Europe. Reclaimed wood is big right now, they said.
“Overall (the trend) is reclaimed, reused, long-lasting,” Clifton said. ”We’re seeing people starting to move away from disposable products, which is quite nice, and kind of going back to that heirloom aspect.”
More industrial looking furniture is also popular — distressed surfaces for example. Bauer and Clifton said they often scour salvage shops in Seattle and elsewhere to bring in those unexpected pieces and create more texture in the rooms they work on, balancing that out with more modern pieces. Design in the Pacific Northwest tends to lean a bit toward a minimalist Asian aesthetic, Bauer said, something the pair embraces in their work.
“We always take (the client’s) style and give a little cleaner line to it — that’s relating to our personal design and the Pacific Northwest.”
Both men said transforming people’s private spaces is incredibly rewarding work and that, in a town of limited shopping options, they are excited to offer more choices to the public. As they’ve heard from former clients ,and experienced themselves, good design can be transformative.
“People are excited for change,” Bauer said. “We’re not just changing their houses, but we’re really changing they way they live.”
For more on Bauer and Clifton, visit www.bauerclifton.com.