Shed James Beard Foundation
Shed Design Award
 
Looks like we weren't the only ones captivated by Shed in Healdsburg, CA.
 
The restaurant, located within the micro-marketplace, received the 2014 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurant Design Award in the “76 Seats and Over” category. Congratulations to Jensen Architects and designers Scott Davis, Mark Jensen, Lincoln Lighthill, Dean Orr, and Andy Pluess on a job well done.
 
Take another glimpse of the North American champ here.
 
 
Shed Healdsburg
 
Healdsburg Shed
 
There’s a new breed of independent retail developing. Complexes, campuses, and marketplaces offering convenience for kindred spirits. An all-in-one indie mall of sorts.
 
Shed, in Healdsburg, CA is one of two concepts launched with this type of modern market flair in Sonoma County. Visiting the two-story café-meets-grocery, retail, deli, bar, workshop, larder, grange is like stepping into the pages of Kinfolk magazine. Including verbs such as Cook, Farm, Eat, and Make to identify individual sections. 
 
Shed Healdsburg
 
Signage aside, the spaces are superbly merchandised with all the vital necessities for any culinary-centric gathering. From farming essentials to packaged foods, the enthusiasm for quality and local products resonates.
 
Shed Fermentation Bar
 
The fermentation bar – with shrub beverages, local wines, and kombuchas  is the most talked about differentiator, but certainly not the whole story. The ingredient-driven menu, open kitchen, and wood oven are cornerstones of seasonal dining. The communal seating, both in the café and upstairs grange, sets the appropriate stage for Sunday suppers and social events. 
 
Shed Healdsburg
 
Design and community are give even-weight throughout each department in the expansive space. By our best estimate, the build-out could have been in excess of ten million dollars. 
 
We're pretty tired of the words artisanship and reimagined, but Shed has both in spades. We hope that ventures like this inspire more traditional spaces to evolve by serving a lifestyle instead of a menu or assortment. 
 
Does your business need a strategy pick-me-up, merchandising makeover, or real-life research from an archive of thousands of themes? Gain a competitive advantage with our macro or micro personalized reporting now
 
Trendy Hipster Incanto
 
Proving that food, relationships, and narratives are intertwined, we spotted the "Trendy hipster” at Incanto in San Francisco. 
 
Chef Chris Cosentino and co-owner Mark Pastore understand the power of telling stories with food. And this dish of rotelli, ramp pesto, potato, pinenuts & pecorino is a proclamation about culture, behaviors, and networks.
 
With two simple words, nearly every customer will place a history and set of feelings about the context without even reading the description. It's purposefully provocative.
 
We'd love to see "Tattooed Chef" on the summer menu.   
Bar Agricole
Bar Agricole
 
In San Francisco, we were taken with the wine menu at Bar Argicole. Instead of listing each wine by color category, the menu highlights each unique estate. 
 
Additionally, each page includes a brief introduction. Here's an example: 
"François Chidaine makes Vouvray and Montlouis; the latter is across the river from its more famous sister. The wines in Moutlouis are a bit more rustic with lovely honeyed, nutty aromas and flavors. The bournais FDP comes from a section of the vineyard where the vines are planted on their own roots."  
 
We love how this is not just a clever marketing and communication tactic  but a merchandising tool for assisting the customer in understanding the breadth of the list and producer. 
Blak Designmart
Blak Designmart
 
Nothing says timely promotion like a holiday pop-up. From NYC to Los Angeles – the retail scene is eager to cash in on selective partnerships, offline activation, and limited-edition wares.
 
Act One: Smart (Social) Commerce in London
E-tail giant eBay launched the Social Shopping pop-up shop in the Covent Garden neighborhood of London earlier this month.

 
According to Retail Week, the company launched November 30th to capitalize on what was expected to be the busiest online shopping weekend. The short-lived event, which closed December 2nd, housed in-store screens that displayed top recommendations from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and encouraged shoppers to download eBay's apps to browse and shop products in the pop-up store.

eBay Head of Buyer Experience Carrie Bienkowski said: “By pairing views of social communities with eBay’s own vast selection of top Christmas gifts and mobile expertise we hope to give shoppers lots of inspiration and put a little bit of fun into Christmas shopping. Mobile technology is a catalyst for retail growth and is changing the way we shop. Consumers now carry a global showroom in their pocket and are increasingly as inclined to seek recommendations online and shop mobile as visit the high street.”

Research from the company shows Augmented Reality and 3D technologies could boost the retail industry by nearly $4bn by 2014.

Act Two: A hotel hosts DailyCandy's brick-and-mortar
The email newsletter turned lifestyle brand opened popup shops selling handpicked gifts by DailyCandy editors at The Standard hotels in New York, Miami and Los Angeles earlier this week.
 
“We know from our insights that when digital brands do an offline activation, it resonates with consumers” said Ashley Parrish, Editor-in-Chief of DailyCandy to WWD.
The assortment, which includes a Ryan McGinness To-Do Calendar and beach towels by Cecily Brown, will be offered in-store and online at standardhotels.myshopify.com through December 31st.

While a Maison Martin Margiela-Ligne 13 Claustrophobic notebook is certainly unique, we’re particularly intrigued at how the brand is banking on cross-pollination from locals and travelers in a hotel setting to push sales.

Act Three: A collective approach to the Darkest Days
30+ emerging designers, creatives, and artisans joined forces this past weekend in Seattle for Brite Collective’s Blak Designmart Pop-up at Caffe Vita’s Bean Room in Seattle.
 
 
The event, which felt more like a old-school warehouse pop-up in 2006 than the manicured and excessively sponsored upmarket versions of today, mixed limited edition black-themed merchandise (representative of the cities darkest days) with freestanding branded stalls featuring products outside the motif.
 
We love shopping local and appreciate the refreshing spin on the weeks leading up to the winter solstice.
 
Act Four: Socially-minded menswear in Williamsburg
Nomad Market, features classic men's clothing and accessories manufactured in collaboration with local craftspeople around the world on the second floor of Hickoree's Floor Two in Brooklyn. The latest in a series of socially-minded pop-ups from Apolis launched mid-November and will run through the end of December.
 
{Photo: Apolis Global}
 
The traveling installation includes photo and video essays from the communities with which Apolis Global co-created to see how futures are impacted by each item. They brand calls the hand-on model “advocacy through industry.”
 
We love how brands are targeting customers and profits using philanthropic causes to better the retailing industry. Isn’t that what the spirit of Christmas is all about? 
 
Sixteen days on the road in eight cities. Here are our top five dishes...
 
 
1. Whole wheat rigatoni cacio e pepe from Superba Snack Bar in Los Angeles, CA. We've had this dish in Rome (our #1) and at Babbo (LA) and Lupa (NYC), but this preparation would make Mario Batali melt. Thanks JK of Sqirl for the recommendation.
 

La Super Rica
 
2. Item #16, "The Super Rica," (rajas with marinated pork) at La Super Rica in Santa Barbara, CA. Locals may debate the finer points of Santa Barbara's taco scene, but we trust Julia Child over Yelp. Homemade tortillas to order — you just can't go wrong.
 
3. The breaded black cod at Wild FIsh in Little River, CA. Simply prepared Northern California Coastal cuisine from this postage-stamp size restaurant just south of Mendocino. (sorry, no photo)
 
Parks BBQ
 
4. Chilled beef noodle soup with cucumbers at Park's BBQ in Los Angeles, CA. Park's is definitely not the least expensive spot to eat amazing Korean food in LA but, the quality is exceptional. The galbi was outstanding, too, but the soup was such a pleasant treat on a 100 degree day.
 
 
5. A salad of escarole, sunchokes, preserved lemon, smoked almonds, and parmesan from Gjelina in Los Angeles, CA was enjoyed on the hood of our car from GTA on another exceptionally warm day.
 
1205 Local
Local 1205
 
Effortlessly, without the use of subway tile or metro-racks, you can tell that Local 1205 has a New York influence — without an olive oil sampling table or menacing tower of coffee beans in burlap bags. Let's face it, we've all seen plenty of knock-off Dean & DeLuca's in the specialty grocery market, and it was time for someone to give shoppers something new.
 
Craig Weiss' micro-mart concept is rustic and industrial enough to let the gourmet foods, local produce, East-Coast style deli, and raw bar shine.
 
local 1205
 
Local 1205 might not be entirely local, but the merchandise assortment is compelling nonetheless. Across from a selection of imported mustards (France), Boat Street Pickles (Seattle), and Pane Carasau (Italy) there's a counter for grass-fed meats, charcuterie, bread, and a station for made-to-order sandwiches. House made Porchetta balances New York meats from Katz’s and 2nd Avenue Deli.
 

 

In front of the sandwich counter, a variety of pickles and olives in barrels make an Organic Foods Store self-serve fixture look impersonal.

 
The space is well organized and a bit sparse by grocery standards. We imagined a few of our merchant pals clamoring to "stack it high and let it fly". But clearly quality trumps quantity here. There's space for everything to breathe, including metal bins for bulk dry-foods like steel cut oats.
 
raw bar

 

An extensive cold pressed juice and smoothie program coupled with raw vegan foods reflect LA's sunny disposition without that hippie vibe. Of the four distinct areas within the store, this is clearly the busiest.

 
Orange Wine
Orange Wine
 
We're not going to pretend that we'd heard much about the Indie Darling of the Wine World, but this organic Grenache Blanc "Orange Wine" by AmByth Estate in Templeton, CA was unexpectedly delightful.
 
 
"Orange Wine" may be the hot topic among wine aficionados, but it's hardly mainstream due to the artisanal process.
 

According to natural winemakers Mary and Phillip at Ambyth, "Orange Wine" means letting the freshly crushed juice ferment on the skins, seeds, and stems — giving it an orange hue with great tannins. They use native yeast fermentation until dry, aging in 50/50 neutral oak barrels and stainless steel. The latest release (2011) is from Martian Ranch, but we were lucky enough to catch the current harvest fermentation.

 
 
AmByth Estate is the first and only winery in the Paso Robles region to produce Demeter certified Biodynamic wines. To make matters even more complex, the property is 100% dry-farmed on steep hillsides. In addition to the 20 acres of vineyards, the diverse estate includes 600 olive trees, 100 fruit and nut trees, a herd of dairy cows, a variety of free range chickens, 2 bee hives, and very happy dogs. To learn more about their farming principles and estate wines, click here.
 
As major food manufacturers continue to debate and dilute the meaning of natural in advertising, it's refreshing to meet a team that is knowledgeable and passionate about their range of wines. We love how these small vintners are leveraging multiple trends (natural, sustainable, biodynamic, organic, healthy, artisanal) to create a unique product that will appeal to a variety of demographics.
 
VML
 
Something caught our eye at Bistro Ralph in Healdsburg, CA and it wasn't the charming room.
 
It was the unique astrology-inspired horizontally-placed VML black-and-white label which tells a whimsical story of the woman winemaker as sorceress — blending natural elements through rich black images within a utopian backdrop. The illustrations seem to move with the seasons as insects, flowers, and human kind are in sync with the planting calendar.
 
The visual story of the winemaker as a sorceress and the lovely Pinot Noir was riveting combination. Beyond compelling — we had to visit the winery.
 
 
{photos by The Dieline Wine & VML Winers}
 
VML Winery opened in April 2011 at the location previously occupied by Belvedere Winery owned by Bill Hambrecht and later C. Donatiello.  The winery is named for winemaker Virginia “Ginny” Marie Lambrix and is a partnership of Bill and Woody Hambrecht, Phil Hurst, Mark De Mawulenaere and Paul and Heath Dolan.
 
Ginny’s approach to winemaking is organic and biodynamic. In a 2011 interview in Wine Business, she was was quoted as saying “I do believe there is something more to the vitality of the estate when the person farming it is completely engaged. Biodynamics is a really elegant way to farm, and I think the wines that come out of grapes that are grown Biodynamically are more interesting.”
 
VML Winery
 
VML design
 
At the winery located on Westside Road in Sonoma County, the wine menu uses similar graphic elements. The tasting room, with large pounded brass bar, is a perfect backdrop.
 
The graphics for VML were created by Stranger & Stranger, a packaging design agency for spirits, beer, and wine based in London. Within firms website, the case study copy describes the inspiration for the collateral with cheeky humor: "Ginny Lambrix is a witch. Ok, she’s not a pointy-hat-broomstick kind of witch but she's a biodynamic winemaker and she does things with potions and skulls that just sound a bit too witchy. So we made her a label that was suitably worshipful."
 
astrology influencing design
 
As fashion continues to embrace the celestial trend, it's only logical that other industries adopt tactics and themes that already resonate with a design-conscious demographic. We love astronomical objects and the biodynamic philosophy with artistic integrity in a rich scheme.
 
bergamot alley
There's so much to love about Bergamot Alley — a charming, and decidedly streamlined, wine bar owned by former flour + water/A16 sommelier Kevin Wardell and partner Sarah Johnson in Healdsburg, CA.
 
Let us count the ways...
 
1. The shelving from the Healdsburg Machine Shop.
2. The 17-foot ceilings are finished in their original tin from 1896.
 
bergamot alley
 
3. Custom barstools from old school desks.
 
 
4. 1950′s hot dog bun baking tray bar table kickers.
 
bun baking kickers
 
5. Old vinyl on the record player.
6. A temperature-controlled cellar with a barn door entry; dubbed the “porn room”.
 
cellar
 
7. A wide selection of local draft beer displayed in a medical refrigerator.
8. A Jars & Tins menu of canned pickles, pates, and more. (coming soon)
 
Wine
 
9. Non-local wine. (from France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, and Greece-- in wine country no less).

10. The squid decal by Telluride, CO-based artist Nathan Frerichs.