When I first met New York-based designer John Sorensen-Jolink last year, I was immediately smitten: he was born in Oregon, and had a previous career as a professional dancer before launching his practice, Coil + Drift, in 2014. Last year, he choreographed a site-specific work for two dancers (who performed in his booth at ICFF) to demonstrate how people interact with objects in the privacy of their homes. This year, he continued this exploration in a space outside the marquee event, taking over a space on the Bowery and filling it with his latest collection, Assemblage. (He choreographed a piece for the installation’s opening party this year, too.) It consists of sconces, chandeliers, and a table lamp with a cone-shaped shade that gives it a sculptural, decidedly un-table-lamp-like presence. The installation even smelled good: the designer collaborated with the French brand 13 Bonaparte, located across the street, on a limited-edition mirrored container to house the company’s Bougie Parfumée candle, which burned near the entrance. That same one-way mirror material was used as the centerpiece for the space. It was the crown jewel in a serene, sun-filled retreat from the chaos outside.
Tiffany Jow, editorial director
My husband and I have a rule that we must try at least one new place—either a restaurant, coffee shop, or bar—each week, because we tend to pick our favorite haunts and happily return (likely ordering our usual) regularly. So when Bar West, a 40-seat restaurant and bar opened back in December in our NW Portland neighborhood, we added it to our ever-growing list and finally popped in earlier last month. The space is gorgeous, bright and full of plants. Behind the bar, there’s a bar: it’s a showstopper of linear grooves—almost like a trowel drug through mortar before tiling—that adds a simple, yet unexpected, textural twist. I confirmed with West owner and operator Summer Triato that it is indeed mortar, done by her “perfectionist plumber” and based on what she calls a collaborative vision among herself and design consultants Steven Dremov of Portland-based architecture and interior design studio Beigey and Eric Cheong of Portland’s North 45 Projects. Now, to find a wall in my house to attempt this brilliance.
Lauren Mang, digital editor/special publications
I first heard of Peter Gronquist at the opening of Winston Wächter’s Summer Dreams exhibition a year ago, which featured his work alongside multi-disciplinary artists Electric Coffin, Neon Saltwater, and Jennifer Zwick. I was so excited to hear Gronquist would be returning to the gallery, this time on his own, with a solo exhibition titled Searcher. The Portland-based artist combines light, metal, and other new media with painting, sculpture, and infinity mirrors, resulting in an ethereal, not-something-you-see-everyday end product. The life-size infinity mirrors are my favorite part: between their seemingly never-ending depth and the glowing haze from the internal light source, I could stare at them for hours.
Abby Beach, junior art director
I just got back from my best friend’s bachelorette party in Austin, Texas, and I cannot stop thinking about this speakeasy in the rowdy 6th Street area. Located in a former brothel, Midnight Cowboy is a reservations-only bar that serves high-concept craft cocktails based on a theme (the current one is an “around the world” situation that features flavors from Russia, Alaska, Morocco, and South America, among others). The interiors are dark and moody (exposed brick, dark leather, floral wallpaper), the drinks are unexpected and inventive, and the staff is incredibly professional. Can’t find the front door? It’s unmarked, but ring the buzzer that says “Harry Craddock,” and you’re in.
Rachel Gallaher, senior editor
The Best Things We Saw is a monthly roundup of places, spaces, and things that stopped GRAY staffers in their tracks. Herewith, our picks for the best of the best in April.