Washington Gas announces 2021’s top performing contractors for the EmPOWER Contractor Network.
Furniture store/design firm Vastu gains followers for its comfortable take on modern design.
Their foresight was uncanny. Eleven years ago, friends Jason Claire and Eric Kole found themselves shopping outside the confines of D.C. to furnish their homes. Both passionate about design, they decided to rectify the long-distance sourcing situation by opening their own home furnishings store, Vastu, in Mid City.
“We did some forecasting, but overall it was what we could afford at the time,” explains Claire.
Today, a profusion of high-end shops and restaurants surround Vastu as well as the ongoing construction of thousands of rental and condo units—“There are cranes everywhere,” says Claire. This explosive residential growth is good news for the modern furniture showroom, whose niche is providing custom furniture and interior design services for the area’s burgeoning population.
“When we first started over a decade ago, D.C.’s furnishing options involved a lot of ultra contemporary and traditional and antique but nothing in between. We formed Vastu to fill this gap in the market,” says Claire. “We call our aesthetic ‘warm modern,’ which means clean-line modern but comfortable. Furniture pieces that you’d want to sit in rather than museum modern where everything looks spectacular but uncomfortable.”
The design services provided by Claire and Kole grew out of the showroom’s popularity: Their clientele varies from professionals in their twenties and thirties to empty-nesters looking for guidance on furnishing the open living spaces common today.
Vastu fulfills its promise of providing well-designed products by working with over 150 unique artisan suppliers from across the country and world.
“We can customize the size, shape, color and texture of just about any furniture piece,” says Claire. “We are the anti-catalog company. We are happy to never design the same furniture piece twice.” The showroom also carries mid-century modern reproductions by furniture powerhouses Herman Miller and Knoll as well as original works by cutting-edge artists.
The following projects exemplify Vastu’s preference for approachable modern design.
A Collection of Classics
Kole designed the entry foyer and interior of this Mid City condo space, located in a newly constructed building whose brick and factory-style windows evoke an older industrial look. Classic furniture pieces abound, including two Barcelona chairs by Knoll.
“This classic chair was designed for the 1929 Barcelona World Fair and only Knoll is licensed to build to the original’s exact specs,” describes Claire. The coffee table, a reproduction of a 1956 design by architect Eero Saarinen, is another Knoll product.
One of Vastu’s key vendors is L.A.-based Steven Anthony, which custom builds all of its sofas and many of its chairs and upholstered pieces. Steven Anthony executed the living area’s couch as well as the master bedroom’s platform bed, whose tufted headboard pays homage to the Barcelona chair’s styling.
Warm Brick, Cool Comfort
Working on this Adams Morgan loft space, Kole demarcated both living and dining spaces in the open floor plan. Upholstered dining chairs by Steven Anthony surround the reproduction circa 1956 Eero Saarinen dining table by Knoll. Kole found the overhead light pendant, an old factory fixture with cast glass, and had it rewired. It contrasts the dining set’s modernity and echoes the building’s industrial past.
A family-owned company in Valencia, Spain, crafted not only the dining area’s sideboard but also the living area’s crafty cocktail table.
“This multi-functional table is a great example of how we maximize space,” says Kole. “The lower piece is an ottoman upholstered in breathable vinyl so it can be sponged off when needed. The wood overlap is on wheels and can slide back and forth over the ottoman or slide off completely to be used as a bench.”
Other standout furnishings in the living area include a pair of button-tufted chairs made in Baltimore, an easy-to-clean micro-suede sofa and an oval rug crafted out of New Zealand wool. A Vastu-represented artist from Chicago created the living area’s figural abstract while the firm’s own art director, Brian Petro, executed the media room’s gestural piece of beeswax and graphite.
In a “slightly older” new construction building in Mid City, Claire designed a condo with minimalism in mind.
“The main living area was generous in size, leaving room for both dining and living spaces,” he says.
With an oak top that matches the condo’s oak floors, the round Eero Saarinen reproduction dining table acts as a modest entertaining space. Upholstered Saarinen executive open-back chairs sport a bold fabric and coordinate with the living area’s more neutral sectional.
In order that it fit exactly into the master bedroom’s central niche, the low platform bed was custom made by Steven Anthony. Claire fulfilled the client’s request for a home office with a fully customized desk crafted by the Brazilian company Escriba out of certified Brazilian hardwood. Recessed halogens light up the work space while a Charles and Ray Eames-designed molded plywood chair by Herman Miller adds yet another complementary wood grain to the multi-functional bedroom.