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Wiki Wednesdays

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In this business, we  tend to use a lot of words that many people have never heard of.  Why would you know the vocabulary of Japanese antiques, or pertaining to Carpets hand tied by tribes in the mountains of Morocco? We thought there should be a place for people to learn about some of these things. Therefore, we are pleased to introduce  Wiki Wednesdays.

Wiki Wednesdays will be like our version of Wikipedia. We will use it to define terms that are used commonly in our industry, many of them with foreign decent. Lets start with our title itself.

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Most of us think “Wikipedia” or “Wikileaks” when we hear this word, and this is correct. Wiki was introduced to the masses in 1995 by computer programmer Ward Cunningham. Ward first used the word in naming”WikiWikiWeb”, a collaborative computer software he created.

However, many people are unaware that Wiki, or Wikiwiki  is actually a  Hawaiian word meaning “Quick” or “Fast”.

Cool huh?

Here are some examples of Wiki being used in modern day Hawaiian culture

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Rain Drums of Ancient Southeast Asia

Our South End showroom  has just received a brand  new container from Thailand. Exciting new furniture and accessories abound, including these magnificent Rain Drums.

Dong Son Drums, also known as Rain Drums, are often casted from Bronze, and are usually decorated with tribal designs and images with themes of fertility, animals, war, deities, and nature.It is argued that the Dong Son culture of Vietnam entered the Bronze Age before any other part of South East Asia. Cast Bronze drums have been found at the most ancient Dong Son burial grounds, which date back to 1000 BC. This is how these drums were given the name “ Dong Son”. Throughout history, these drums spread throughout South East Asia, and took on different meanings based on various cultures.

Along with the Dong Son, the Karen people of Burma and Thailand used these drums to summon the rain, because of the unique, rain-like sound they make. This is how the common name of “Rain Drum” came to be. The Karen people also believe that the sounds of the drum are pleasing to the spirits or “nats”, who live in the trees and water.

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Karen man casting a Rain Drum, 1923

The drums are used for various ceremonies to summon ancestors, and for calling soldiers. A certain beat on the drum replicates the sound of marching soldiers, and is widely used as a trick to give the impression of a large army.

In Indonesia, the Rain Drums have been present for 2500 years. In Bali, which is primarily Hindu, there is a famous drum called the “Moon Drum”, that is known for its very large size. In the small Indonesian Island of Alor, “Moko Drums” play an important cultural role. A man who wishes to marry must present a Moko Drum to the woman’s family. Because these drums are hard to come by, many men or couples must leave the island in order to marry, because they cannot find or afford a Moko Drum.  Moko Drums are also heavily decorated with Hindu symbolism.

Across most primitive communities within South East Asia, possession of a Rain Drum signifies not only status and material wealth, but also the ability to communicate with and influence spirits and the powers that be. In fact, one village in Vietnam considered the ownership of a Rain Drum to be more impressive than owning seven elephants.  Although here in Boston, owning  just one elephant would probably win.

Today’s versions are modeled after drums from thousands of years ago, but in modern design they are commonly used as tables. Rain drums are great for side tables, coffee tables, and are especially common for the yard or garden. Adding a glass top is an option for making the drum seem more like a conventional table. A Rain Drum is a simple way to add a touch of exotic intrigue and rustic charm to any space.

SoWa Sunday is Back!!

 

We are so pleased to welcome back the warm weather, and SoWa Sunday with it. Open market season brings a wonderful, bustling energy to our neighborhood, as well as visitors from all over. If you are not familiar with this event, SoWa Sunday is a huge, mostly outdoor marketplace in Boston’s South End. It occurs every Sunday from May through October, and consists of three separate and unique markets, each with their own focus, as well as a diverse pack of local food trucks. It is open from 10am to 4pm.

 

Farmer’s Market

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The farmer’s market includes over 60 local farm stands, selling the freshest possible produce, herbs, and dairy products. This market also houses vendors selling unusual and gourmet specialty foods, including the best brownies you’ve ever had. The Farmer’s market is located in the parking lot at 500 Harrison Ave, right next to Mohr & McPherson. Buying fresh food from the people who grew and made it themselves is such a treat these days-well worth breaking your grocery store routine for.

 

Arts Market

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The Arts Market is located behind Mohr & McPherson, in the Albany St. Parking lot. The parking lot is filled with tents, run by individuals or teams of artisans who have come from all over New England and beyond to sell their handmade products. Here you can find arts and crafts, jewelry, clothing, apothecary goods-especially hard to find products made from all natural ingredients, and an assortment of other unique and creative wares. This is a great place to shop for quality items while supporting local artists and small business owners.  

 

Vintage Market

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The Vintage Market is an indoor space, filled with the ultimate vendors of Vintage fashion, jewelry, art, furniture, and objects, providing fresh finds every week. This place is massive, and truly magical.

TAKE NOTE: The Vintage market has MOVED to 450 Harrison Avenue.

 

Food Truck Court

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The Food Truck Court is made up of 25 rotating trucks, all serving different types of food. This is the largest food truck gathering in New England. Choose from pizza, gourmet grilled Cheese, specialty panini’s, Asian cuisine, falafel, stir fry, French fries-whatever you want.The food court is located in front of the old power station building at 540 Harrison Ave.

 

Mohr & McPherson

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SoWa Sunday is also a perfect excuse to stroll through Boston’s beautiful South End, and explore the multitude of art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Stop by the Mohr & McPherson Cafe to a grab an iced coffee, tea or lemonade. We are also a good alternative to the Food trucks if you are looking for someplace to take a break from walking around. This season, our cafe will be featuring a limited menu on Sunday, so we can provide faster, more efficient service, and reduce wait time.
The cafe is open from 9am to 6pm on Sunday. Our showroom is also open, regular hours of 11-7, as well as our rug gallery. This year we will be filling the gallery with home and gift items, and beautiful accessories like silk scarves, purses and handbags, and handmade jewelry. The rug gallery is also home to much of our live edge collection.

 

PARKING:
GPS address 324 Albany St for SoWa event parking under I-93 Overpass.
Parking is also available in the Boston Sports Club Lot near 540 Harrison Ave.
Street parking is also available, but requires patience, vigilance, and possibly a lot of walking-Be warned.

 

Sowa-Neighborhood News

 Whats New? 

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With all the hustle and bustle that Sowa Sundays cause around here, it can be easy to forget about the piles of other fun stuff to do in the sowa neighborhood. Although Sowa Sundays have ended for the season, the Sowa Vintage Market is open every Sunday, all year round. Located at 356 Albany Street, the Vintage Market offers 3 rooms of vintage Fashion, Jewelry and home furnishings. This place is seriously awesome. Another year-round event is Sowa’s Monthly First Friday’s, when you get to check out all the new area gallery exhibits and see what local artists are working on in their open studios. What could make these two events even better? Joining Forces of course. Starting in November, Sowa Vintage Market has opened during every First Friday from 6-9 pm. There will be treats provided by vendors, and special installations by South End designer Randy Kaufman.

 

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Husband and wife Stephanie Pernice and John Warren are the founders and co-creators of the Vintage market. They are excited for this season’s holiday theme of “rustic luxe mod”, and all the talented vendors filling the market.

Third Thursdays are a new version of First Fridays, started by the artists at 46 Waltham Street. On the third Thursday of each month, the artists will be opening their studios to the public. This mid month treat is a great way to get out on a weeknight, sip wine, and view some art

  

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Last month Lanoue Gallery of Newbury Street made the move to Harrison ave, and we are thrilled they have joined the neighborhood. Lanoue’s new gallery is four times the size of their Newbury St. space, and filled with exciting new exhibits. Lanoue is currently exhibiting works by Laura Schiff Bean until December 6th.

 

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You may have noticed something new outside of 500 Harrison Avenue. This looming, 13 feet tall sculpture is officially entitled “The monument to the First Female President of the USA” and also referred to as “The Mighty Lioness”.

This monument is dedicated to the artists dream that every little girl can one day become president of the United States. It is also an homage to the great American Sculptor Daniel Chester French, who created the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Appropriately, in May 2015 the Lioness will be transported to Chester wood, the historic home of Daniel Chester French in Stockbridge, Ma. So make sure to check out this lady before she leaves us.

The artist of this piece is Donna Dodson. She is a member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery, located at 486 Harrison Ave. Donna has been carving images from wood for nearly 20 years. Her work deals with the relation of animals to the human spirit and explores feminine beauty with a style based in playfulness and also power and grace.

 

The artist of this piece is Donna Dodson. She is a member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery, located at 486 Harrison Ave. Donna has been carving images from wood for nearly 20 years. Her work deals with the relation of animals to the human spirit and explores feminine beauty with a style based in playfulness and also power and grace.

 

 Review

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Illuminus, was the name of Boston’s first “Nuit Blanche” or “White Night”, an arts festival that began in Europe around 30 years ago. Illuminus happened on October 25th this year, spreading along Harrison Avenue, mainly in and around the brick barn usually used for parking. It was a celebration of digital, video, performance and public art, focusing on large scale light installations.

A highlight event was “Your Big Face” by New American Public Art. The piece was interactive and allowed viewers faces to be picked up by a camera and projected onto an eighteen foot screen, which hung ten feet off the ground on the side of a building.

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“Digital art offers unprecedented opportunities to push the possible in the name of delight.” Franklin Einspruch.

Illuminus was absolutely a success, and an exciting event for the Sowa neighborhood, as well as Boston at large.

Click For more images from Illuminus click here

 

 

Whats Coming?

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Since the end of Sowa Sunday’s, we are hurting for a good craft fair. This one comes right in time for your holiday shopping, and what a great excuse to spend some time in the city with friends and family.
“This year’s Holiday Market will feature the very best of New England’s independent designers, artists and crafters. From the fashionably chic to the hip and cutting edge, shoppers are sure to find an original gift for everyone on their list. Expect to find an exceptional array of indie goods, including: handbags, jewelry, pottery, letterpress stationery, silk-screened t-shirts, baby clothes, re-purposed wool accessories and more! This handmade holiday spectacular will be held in the spacious and historic main building of the Benjamin Franklin Institute, located in the heart of Boston’s South End. Within walking distance to Boston’s best galleries, boutiques and international cuisine, the SoWa Holiday Market is at the center of Boston’s most diverse and exciting neighborhoods!”

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Dates: Saturday and Sunday, December 13 and 14, 2014
Hours: Saturday 11AM-6PM, Sunday 11AM-5PM
Address: 41 Berkeley Street, Boston MA
Admission: $5, children under 12 free

 

 

 

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Building on History Ink Block” is the name of the project being developed on Harrison Avenue. Ink Block is expected to be a new hub of energy in the SOWA neighborhood, drawing street traffic with its shops and restaurants, including a flagship Whole Foods Market. Ink Block will also reinvent residential housing in this area of the south end, which was largely eliminated in 1959 to build the Boston Herald Traveler building.

Located above the street level retail and restaurant spaces will be 475 luxury residential units, spread across four buildings. The housing will be split into three sections: Ink 1, Ink 2 and Ink 3. Each section features a different point of view regarding style, layout, and amenities. The Project features private parking, a fitness center, multiple rooftop lounging areas, and a swimming pool.

For those of us already living or working in the neighborhood, the most exciting aspect of Ink Block is definitely the Whole foods. This whole Foods will be 50,000 square feet and will offer a larger than typical variety of prepared foods. The market will also undoubtedly draw shoppers who may not otherwise frequent the neighborhood. It is a welcome addition to the community and is expected to be opened before the opening of the living spaces, in early 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Look Back at Mohr & McPherson’s History

Kevin-McPherson-Portrait-by-Jessica-WeiserKevin McPherson, owner of Mohr and McPherson, recalls his journey to building the store we know today. He also shares insights on design, eastern culture, and his passion for travel and discovery.

When did you first make the decision to start the company? What brought you to that decision?

In the early 80’s, I operated a small furniture retail business selling factory produced contemporary furnishings. In 1990, I was doing small renovations and general contracting with my business partner, John Mohr. I had the idea of returning to something related to home furnishings. 

This time around, I wanted to sell things that were hand crafted with some real provenance… something genuine & authentic. I felt that I had a calling in that realm and we decided to open a small shop in Cambridge. After each borrowing $5,000 on personal credit cards, John and I opened Mohr & McPherson’s doors on a shoestring budget in March 1991.

 

 

 

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Photos from our original Cambridge location in 1991.

 

Did you start traveling in search of exotic furniture before you opened or after?

The original inventory was crafted by American artisans, and we acted as their agents. Most of our sales were custom items based on the samples we had in our shop.  After 2 years in that business, I bought out my partner and started traveling to the west coast. There, I purchased furniture from China, Indonesia, Japan and Morocco and had these items trucked to Cambridge. My interest in rugs from the rug producing countries also took shape after meeting two Afghan brothers in San Fransisco, who helped me establish a rug business. In 1995, we were doing enough business for me to make my first trip to Asia to buy a 40 ft sea container of goods to ship directly to the store.


Where were the previous store/s located?

The original store was on Concord Avenue in Cambridge. We also rented another location across the street that acted as our warehouse annex. We’ve lived a nomadic experience in the past 22 years, with locations in Charlestown, Alewife & Moulton St in Cambridge, and Arlington St, Boylston St & Dry Dock Ave in Boston, before consolidating at our current location at 460 Harrison Avenue in Boston.

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460 Harrison Ave in Boston’s South End

 

What do you love about Eastern Design?

I was in love with the aeshetic From the moment I can first remember seeing asian design. It has always called out to me. The simple Japanese zen wabi sabi approach was the most interesting to me, but the over-the-top, highly ornate approach from India and China also caught my eye. I was also intrigued by the idea that these uncommon things came from the other side of the world.

What are your favorite materials used in Eastern Design?

Asian textiles are fascinating to me. I also love the wood carvings from Java, India and China. Ceramics from Japan, China and Vietnam are amazing. Rattan, bamboo and other materials from Thailand, Phillipines, Burma and China are great examples of the efficient use of simple local materials to produce durable lightweight furniture, baskets, etc.

What can a piece of furniture from the east add to a western home décor? 

A home decorated with only modern, machine-made goods lacks a human touch and can feel a little like an office environment. A hand-crafted rug, antique cabinet or tribal carving brings humanity back into the environment. 

Also, Asian color sense, especially in textiles, is different than the current western movement towards black, white and gray. It adds color where it is sorely needed.

If someone could add one Eastern item or piece of furniture to their home, what would it be? What about attitude/philosophy? Are there any cultural outlooks on homelife you have witnessed in your travels you think westerners should adopt?

Many modern home interiors look a little like a museum or a hospital. There is something calming about the lack of clutter and sense of order in the modernist aesthetic. What it lacks is any reference to the passing of time. It is frozen in the moment and does not allow for the patina that is a part of the natural process.  Modern homes and furnishing were not designed to show age well. 

The zen term wabi sabi (literally translated means humility and rust) is the zen acknowledgment that nothing is permanent, that all things age and deteriorate and that we must accept or even grow comfortable with this fact.  I believe that the eary modernists were inspired by the spare aesthetic of the Japanese zen aesthetic, but left out the important reference to the passing of time.

Mohr & McPherson Timeline:

    1991: Opened Mohr & McPherson in Cambridge

    1993: Started selling Asian pieces

    1994: Opened annex

    1995: Rented warehouse in Charlestown, Started traveling to Asia to buy

    1997: Opened on Arlington St, Boston, Moved warehouse to Seaport 

    1999: Opened 20,000 sq ft Moulton St warehouse in Cambridge

    2001: Opened Alewife location

    2004: Opened Boylson St location

    2008: Moved to 460 Harrison Ave

    2011: Opened warehouse at 460c Harrison Ave