“If I come to your shop, will there be anyone closer than six feet? Is everyone required to wear a mask?”
In recent months, that has become the first question asked of Company Flowers, rather than the usual “do you have any more of those lush pink roses with red tips that I love?”
Company Flowers’ unique floral designs are well known throughout the greater Washington market. “When COVID-19 struck, we lost more than a third of our business” explained manager John Nicholson. “No weekend home parties, no servicing caterers, no lobby flowers for smaller offices, none of the usual weddings, and several customers who enjoyed weekly flowers decided to move far out of town.” Fortunately, the business has been able to continue with a reduced staff, benefiting by its location relatively close to the DC bridges, and is looking forward to resuming growth of new business activity in the County.
The shop’s biggest drawback these days is the continued fear generated among customers about catching COVID-19. “Each day, at least two or three customers say they’ll come to our door but never venture inside” notes Nicholson. So long as that fear remains at high levels, he says, there’s no point to try to “drum up” corporate accounts from Arlington commerce because other businesses are confronting the same public fear.
of hand sanitizer upon entering. The Lee Highway business has lots to offer customers these days, from beautiful floral arrangements and greeting cards to classy reading glasses and quirky gifts for the special people in your life.
Company Flowers has been one of the stalwarts of the emerging Cherrydale commercial area. As other Arlington retail operations throughout the county have been shuttered by the COVID-19 crisis, the Cherrydale shops are growing from a local neighborhood shopping center into a broader Northern Virginia commercial enterprise. “Most everyone in Arlington and Falls Church knows about stores like Cherrydale Hardware,” Nicholson says; “Other Cherrydale shops are now becoming better known too!"
With the completion of a new, vibrant mural by local artist MasPaz comes the next stage in LHA’s recent Placemaking Project: designing a new outdoor space at Cowboy Café. The Café has partnered with LHA, Dominion Lighting, Potomac Paint, and Esoarc Architects to create a new design for the layout of the outdoor seating area, as well as the installation of new lighting and paint touch ups.
LHA’s Communications Manager chatted recently with Matthew Rowan, VP of Residential Lighting for Dominion Lighting and Beth Boggs, Design Manager from Potomac Paint and Design Centers about how they approach projects such as these, what they envision the final product to be, and how each business is faring during COVID-19.
Maia Potok-Holmes: Thank you so much for agreeing to chat with us about this project! We’re incredibly excited.
Mathew Rowan: It’s my pleasure, I'm excited about the project too.
Beth Boggs: My pleasure as well.
MPH: So, let’s jump into it. With a project as big as this one, there’s obviously a lot of preparation one needs to do. How do you each approach a project like this?
maximize texture while minimizing glare. After that, we'd look to add in secondary features with gentler, dimmer pools of light. And of course, all walkway areas would want to have sufficient ground lighting to prevent trips or stumbles. The end result is, when done correctly, the best example of that term used so often in lighting design: "layers of light."
BB: In terms of paint, we often start by holding a series of conversations with our clients. We listen to their vision and make suggestions based on the function of the space, the clients’ needs, and how they want to change the space.
MPH: Matt, what are some things a lighting designer might need to take into consideration when designing an outdoor space?
MR: Aside from waterproofing constraints, lighting outside spaces actually offer a great deal more flexibility than indoor environments. We have far more scale that we can leverage, and since there aren't necessarily opaque walls and ceilings, we can often take advantage of "borrowed" landscape and vistas to add to the illuminated experience. Along with abundant darkness at night, we can add far more drama by choosing what's brightly featured and what can recede into deep shadow.
MPH: Beth, what about paint? What are some common misconceptions people have about choosing paint for their space?
counter-top fabrics, and definitely pictures so we can see the space or room. I also always suggest that clients buy premium paint and paint the recommended coats. Your paint colors will have depth and be truer to the color chip.
MPH: What do you envision for the final product of this project? How do you hope to make an impact?
MR: I think there's a definite goal of creating something that reflects the best of European and South American street cafe culture, with the funkiness and distinct character that makes the Cowboy Cafe such a great part of the Lee Highway neighborhood experience. If we do our job right, we'll be able to make something that, while completely new, will also feel natural and like it's been a part of Cowboy Cafe for years and years. My favorite part of a project like this is that we can make a great impact in our own neighborhood. Being able to support a partner on Lee Highway is amazing, and anything we can do to help elevate the look and feel of the corridor will create a great experience for our neighbors and friends.
BB: Agreed! I love that we are improving our local area with color and art. Blank walls are now inspiring!
MPH: As exciting as this project is, it was, of course, triggered by the COVID-19 shutdown. How are both of your businesses faring during this time?
MR: We've been doing the best that we can - during the full quarantine, we were working with our customers virtually by leveraging Zoom, phone calls, and facetime. It's hard to substitute for the in-person experience of working together, particularly when you're working on something as experience-based as lighting. Now that we have our showrooms open on an appointment-only basis, we're able to have our customers back in to see, feel, and experience lighting and fixtures so that we can more easily speak to our goals and understanding of what we can actually achieve.
MPH: How might the greater Arlington community be able to support you both? Why is shopping local so important?
or their friends to rethink their lighting, they think of us.
BB: Potomac Paint offers a wide variety of design services and products - everything from reupholstery fabrics, wallpaper and window treatments to paint chips and in store or in home design consultations. We love and appreciate the support of our community. Keep it local and we will all be strong together!
MPH: Thank you both again, so much, for agreeing to chat about all this. We’re so excited about the next steps in the project and to be working alongside Lee Highway businesses to create something special! Best of luck to the both of you.
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explained. Encouraged and supported by his parents, MasPaz attended George Mason with the intention to study art and photography, but as technology grew and become more easily attainable, he worried photography was a dying art and went into 3D modeling.
After graduation, MasPaz moved to New York City to work for a design firm, but soon realized that the sedentary office life was not for him. Inspired to create and meet people, he went on to work in a printing shop in the city, sell t-shirts on the street, worked for Nike as a t-shirt designer, and was hired by the MOMA to work on a set of graphic design installations. He even, at one point, ran a graffiti gallery, called 100B, in the city where he met and befriended “old school artists.” It was in New York that he began his relationship with graffiti art – a relationship that continues to impact his work today.
time in Brazil learning new techniques and styles, collaborating, and sharing techniques and ideas with fellow artists. He later traveled across South America, putting these new skills to work.
Upon returning home to the DMV in 2012, the name MasPazwas officially born. He was inspired by a stencil he used in South America that said MasPaz,which translates to More Peace. “I liked the meaning and message of the name” said the artist. He made a website, got a trademark, and started promoting his Instagram.
street café and a place for the community to gather. Parklets have continuous benefits to not only the community, but to the businesses nearby. By allowing for moments of delight, serenity and respite, parklets bring the community together while allowing adjacent businesses to reap increased profits.
Utilizing space that was previously designated as a parking area has become popular as local restaurants begin to open up - while, of course, complying with the COVID-19 physical distancing requirements. This change allows restaurants to welcome their customers back safely, while encouraging future benefits for the community and surrounding businesses.
As Governor Northam allowed for restaurants to begin opening their doors, Jim Barnes, co-owner of Cowboy Café, jumped on this new trend, turning the parking lot adjacent to the restaurant into outdoor seating for the many loyal Cowboy Café customers returning. However, Barnes wanted to give his faithful customers something more than just tables in a parking lot. Inspired by the incredible diversity of Miami’s Wynwood murals, Jim, with the Lee Highway Alliance Placemaking Salon, implemented a mural by MasPaz for the parking lot wall, added dynamic lighting by Dominion Lighting, and installed other amenities such as plants and screening from the road.
Stop by Cowboy Café in the coming weeks to see how a little creativity can turn a parking lot into something so much more.
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