Monday, April 21, 2008

Perfect Coffee, Every Time

Coffeemakers are ugly. They sit on kitchen counters like cranky gargoyles that are good for only one thing: infusing the senses with a clanging energy--a bullet in the brain.

For most of the Western world, I’d hazard a guess that a morning cup of coffee looks less like watery, bitter mud, and more like salvation in a cup. However, as a confirmed non-drinker of the stuff, I see the coffeemaker perched on my counter less as harbinger of the day-as-yet-unfolded, and more like an assault on the already limited aesthetics of my kitchen (a former crackhouse we’re trying to restore to wholeness).

So when I wandered into Nestliving a few days ago, I was thrilled to discover that they carry the Chemex brand coffee maker. I’d been researching this product for awhile: in addition to the wonderfully simple lines of the mid-century-esque carafe, it supposedly makes the best cup of coffee in the world. And for those of us who like to support good design but have limited means, the 6-cup version (which is for sale at Nest) is a reasonable $33.00. The same price as the website, but sans shipping.

Since I was so pleased with my find, I got to chatting with the owner Shaan Batten. Though admittedly I was a little suspicious as well: the shop seemed to be very similar to Roost, which was in 5 Points a few years ago. I felt a little defensive for Roost, not least because I count its former proprietor, Tonya Lee, among my friends.

However, after Shaan let me wave my arms around and shout about ideas of authenticity and opportunism (okay, I just did that in my head, in reality I brought up the similarity to Roost in a very civilized manner), it turned out I was being ridiculous (a condition I'm pretty used to). Shaan said that he’d taken pains to not carry the same lines as Roost had, and, that his impression had been that the Roost space had been more experimental than what he was attempting to do. And I had to concede the point, in fact, Tonya herself once said, “The shop was never to generate revenue…it was an extension of my obsession with paintings; just more disposable decorative objects.”

Plus, it is really nice to have a shop selling modern-wares in the neighborhood again—it feels like a commitment not just to design that for purely aesthetic reasons feels contemporary, but to design that functions with people. That’s really the crux of good design whether contemporary or Modern: design that functions within the rubric of its time and place.

Sometimes, there is also hope that thoughtful, deliberate, design can begin to permeate other aspects of life…if we were to all become more present and aware, who knows what changes could be wrought? Maybe just golden tiger wallpaper in the dining room…maybe a whole new way of thinking.

So, does that coffeemaker make the best coffee I’ve ever tasted? I don’t know. But it does look wonderful with cut flowers in it.

Incidentally, there's a Grand Opening party at the shop on the 24th. Go out and show some love.

*click on the title to go to Nestliving's webpage.


Tonya said...

I sure hope that the owner of Nest did not think that you were insinuating any hard-feelings from my direction.

My only apprehension came prior to ever seeing Nest. And were based on phone calls from concerned friends and Roost patrons. After visiting, it is VERY clear that Nest has different intentions. Thankfully, Roost is my past!

I wish Nest all the best of luck.


madeleine said...

I certainly hope not, I hope that it was clear that any comments I made were from my own perspective, from conclusions I'd drawn myself.

I wrote about them because that is the truth, I was feeling touchy on behalf of my fried (Tonya) but in no way was I speaking for her.

And I hope that it is clear, that not only am I happy to have Nest in the 'hood, Shaan himself seems like a thoughtful, kind person, whose acquaintance I was pleased to make.