DowntownDC BID Raises the Curtain on New Washington Design Center

Thursday, November 20, 2014

By DowntownDC

If Michelle Obama is looking for a new set of pillows for the private residence, she has an exciting new resource right at her doorstep.

The Washington Design Center opened its new downtown location on November 12 with a glittering cocktail reception hosted by the DowntownDC BID and a ribbon cutting ceremony presided over by outgoing DC Mayor Vincent Gray.

The grand opening of the mid-Atlantic region’s single largest resource for high-end home furnishings and décor was the culmination of 18 months of planning, moving and construction. The Design Center moved from Southwest D.C. to Franklin Court (1099 14th Street) in mid 2014, after its previous building at 300 D Street was sold for $50 million in 2012.

The Design Center steering committee settled on 116,438 square feet of space on three floors in the sophisticated and elegant Franklin Court. The Gold LEED building was designed by the world renowned architectural firm Kohn Pederson Fox, and features a multi-level lobby, sweeping staircase, dramatic water elements, and a two-story glass atrium with granite and marble finishes.

Its’ new home is conveniently located in the heart of the downtown Washington, DC business district at the corner of 14th Street and L Street NW, a neighborhood filled with restaurants, hotels and shopping. The Design Center, along with CityCenterDC, is helping to increase Downtown DC’s profile as a high-end retail destination.

The November 12 grand opening was an all-day affair, with the 21 showrooms hosting open houses. Guests mingled, enjoyed refreshments, and walked from showroom to showroom, each with a distinct design aesthetic. For example, the American Eye showroom featured collections with a more relaxed aesthetic which offers Washington a classic, American casual look. And on this night, a margarita machine and homemade pop tarts. “It’s just fun and playful and it suits the new space,” said DC design student, Claudia Hawkins.

The Design Center showrooms cater to interior designers, architects, and space planners for custom design for their clients. But the showrooms are open to the public, and consumers can window shop and browse a select number of home furnishing showrooms for design inspiration. To make a purchase, they must contact a design professional to purchase from the home furnishing showrooms.

Many of the region’s top interior designers got right to work during the open house event, whipping out order forms and jotting down details on the perfect fabric to order wholesale for a particular client. However, all agreed that the new space with its dynamic high ceilings, large floor-to-ceiling windows and natural light were a vast improvement over the Design Center’s previous space. 

“The new Design Center is an amazing space and a true testament to Downtown DC’s growing prominence as a design resource in the mid-Atlantic region,” said Barry Dixon, an interior designer in Warrenton, Virginia who counts Diane Sawyer and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist among his clients. Dixon, who was named "2010 Master of Design" by Veranda magazine, spoke on the art of collaboration at the J. Lambeth & Company showrooms.

D.C.-based interior designer Lori Graham agreed. “I’m looking forward to many more visits.” 

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