Meg Bartos launched Kanju — which tanslates to “creativity born of struggle” or “making more with less” — in the Dallas Design District. The store features high-end African art and decor, including the recycled glass and copper chandelier pictured.

Meg Bartos knows Africa better than most people. In a typical year, the Hockaday and SMU alum splits her time between Africa and the U.S., visiting tradesmen and artisans that supply Kanju Interiors — her Design District showroom — with myriad treasures carefully crafted by hand. But this is more of a passion project for Bartos, born of a deep love for Africa and its people. 

It’s also a very savvy business, as interest in Africa among start-ups and technology companies grows, so does the demand for people who can navigate the cultural and geographical landscape of the continent. It’s one reason that the Africa Expert Network will host “Africa House” at SXSW this weekend. And the furnishings, artwork, and decor of this technology-driven event? All of it will come from Kanju.

“The tradesmanship — this handiwork and luxury design — wouldn’t have a market without technology,” Bartos pointed out as we sat down for coffee in her showroom, which is full of incredible art and beautiful decor, each piece more intricate and well made than the last. 

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Have you noticed the oh-so-apropos retro holiday yard décor in the Northwest Dallas neighborhood bordered by Royal Lane, Midway Road, Walnut Hill Lane, and Marsh Lane in Dallas? Dozens (actually 100) of vintage-style, six-foot-tall wooden trees punctuate the low-slung midcentury modern-style homes in the Walnut Hill neighborhood, recently featured in the Modern Mile Dallas Home Tour. The holiday display is a community initiative that’s cool in its own right, but the story behind the trees is even cooler.

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Sure, schools are important components in educating and forming the personalities and tastes of children. And it’s common wisdom that Mommy and Daddy shouldn’t argue or smoke in front of the kiddies. It seems wisdom needs an add-on.  Apparently you shouldn’t decorate in front of the little buggers either.

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Home-on-Bishop-1

I love Cody Ellison. You know he and business partner Ken Valencia own Home on BishopDwell on Davis, Bishop Ranch and the Bishop Street Market all down in Bishop Arts. Though they started out with the perfection that is Home on Bishop, business was so darn strong the duo opened a second store in November, 2014, Dwell on Davis: bedding plus art, jewelry, clothing and accessories. Which are the mainstays of all their fabulous stores.

“Buyers crave our locally crafted goods, sold by locally owned stores,” says Ken Valencia, who previously worked for Neiman Marcus and Donna Karan. Cody was in textile and also National Sales Director for Rose Tree Corporation based here in Dallas.

“We do not replenish anything, it lives here one time, when it sells we bring in something as unique and special to replace it,” adds Cody. “Always something new to see everyday!” 

Well we have something new to TELL YOU Saturday night!

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RH Modern: Jonathan Browning Chandelier $3,695 cribbed from Browning trade-only model at ~$15,000.

RH Modern: Jonathan Browning Chandelier $3,695 cribbed from Browning trade-only model at ~$15,000.

Expo and the Great Indoors whetted our appetites for cool kitchen and bathroom showrooms we mightn’t have been able to afford, but could crib ideas from.  Their bankruptcies left a hole in our collective Sunday afternoons. Even at a fraction of their size, Capital Distributing and Perch sate our inner renovation voyeur.

In the meantime we also saw Restoration Hardware, always more tease than happy ending given that much of the “good stuff” isn’t in stores but ordered blindly via their catalog. Then last summer came RH Modern, a new line moving away from their chipped-paint-chic and weathered, splinter-friendly wood comfort zone and into the realm of reinterpreted midcentury modern and “reclaimed” vs. “antique” wood.  RH Modern seems to compete with Mitchell Gold, Bob Williams. Of course the tease continues with just one free-standing RH Modern store in Los Angeles, (natch) and some dedicated space in NYC, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Tampa and Austin that parcel out a teensy weensy portion of the 300-page, mailbox-bending catalog.

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Dean Fearing signed copies of his "Texas Food Bible" at Anteks Curated during the Park Cities Quail reception.

Dean Fearing signed copies of his “Texas Food Bible” at Anteks Curated during the Park Cities Quail reception.

Dean Fearing is becoming a regular at Anteks Curated where store owner and friend of Fearing’s, Jason Lenox, houses his latest cookbook.

“We had a fall ’15 event where Dean autographed The Texas Food Bible and generously mingled with the guests. The good time convinced us that we should do it again.” Jason shared.

When Park Cities Quail showed an interest in gathering at our space in The Plaza at Preston Center Dean Fearing’s involvement made perfect sense. Dean’s auction item is a big attraction for the 2016  annual Quail Dinner event where the T. Boone Pickens Lifetime Sportsman Award is presented.

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C.P. Hart; Texas tub in King Arthur’s Court.

C.P. Hart; Texas tub in King Arthur’s Court.

“Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city [London], you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares, but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts.”

Samuel Johnson, 1777

As you may imagine, traveling with me is likely to be a different experience. On my first trip to London just after college, I visited the Tower of London to see the crown jewels. I recall standing next to a woman who asked where I was from. When I said “Chicago” she shrieked that she and her mother were from Milwaukee. It was that moment that I thought, “I didn’t travel 5,000 miles to see YOU.”

From that point forward, I take the roads slightly less traveled. Sure, I go to Harrods and Selfridges, but I live at 300-year-old cheesemonger Paxton and Whitfield, Borough Market, Camden and the design areas of Kings and Fulham Roads. I pick a new direction and try new things. I don’t do tours.

This past trip I crept into Liberty’s attic to rummage wallpaper, visited Beardmore for drawer pulls and investigated internet find C.P. Hart. I also dashed into Linley to drool over jaw-dropping bespoke cabinetry and furniture. Oodles of ideas later, here we are.

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Bunk 1

Like many mundane things that have been made “cool” these days (from Haute Dogs to Lobster Mac & Cheese), it’s now possible (as Candy wrote)  to have cool bunk beds. I don’t know about you, but if I had the ceiling height, it would be soooo fun to have half the set pictured above in my bedroom. Every night I’d be thinking, “Hmmm, do I want to sleep up or down tonight?”

… and then I could post naughty “pin-up” pics to the underside of the upper bed like when I was younger. (OK, perhaps I’ve grown up at least that much since then … but not much.)

Alder and Tweed is run by sisters Lynsey and Heather Humphrey who come by their design chops naturally with parents who founded the largest lighting company you’ve never heard of.   Their firm specializes in creating memorable interiors (translation: house porn) for big-time vacation homes. Many of their clients fall out of the pages of Fortune and People. Their work results in the kinds of interiors most of us slobber over in hopes of finding some trinket we can use in our more modest homes. The Utah-based sister-designers get around with projects and offices in California, Mexico, and of course Utah.

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