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Midtown Patch - Aug 29th, 2011

Progressive Contemporary Products Show "Optimism" 

Each month Switch Modern is more than a luxury modern furniture and accessories store. It's also a stage. 

"As part of our dedication and passion for design we host a monthly Salon Series," said Roy Otwell, who co-owns Switch Modern with business partner Doug Henderson. As part of the series, a guest with ties to the design industry is invited to speak. 

"They can talk for 15 to 20 minutes about whatever they want," Otwell said. "Usually there's a slide presentation, a question-and-answer session, plus we'll offer some wine and cheese. It's a nice event, a way for people in the design community and end users to feed their soul and learn a little bit as well." 

On Tuesday, August 30, jewelry designer and sustainable lighting artist Kathleen Plate will unveil her Smart Glass Guggenheim Chandelier. The spiral lighting fixture, inspired by the architecture of the Guggenheim Museum, features a white globe light and glass rings. The chandelier made its national debut at the Guggenheim Museum in New York during the Architectural Digest Home Show and now moves to its current home at Switch Modern. 

"Kathleen Plate made a name for herself slicing bottles and smoothing the edges to make jewelry," Otwell said. "Then she started making different things like room dividers and then she grew interested in how light and glass interact." 

On Wednesday, August 31, Chris Hardy will unveil his latest light fixture for Fontana Arte. Attendees will be among the first to see a prototype of WIG, which debuted at ICFF in New York. 

"Chris Hardy is a young, new industrial designer from Atlanta," Otwell said. "He studied in Hong Kong and his light design was recently picked up by an Italian lighting manufacturer, which is producing his chandelier-it's a beautiful fixture. He's young and talented and now recognized. It's an amazing success story Atlantans should be proud of." 

Is there an "Atlanta" design style? 

"I think Atlanta is one of the last bastions of traditionalism," Otwell said. "However, it's been changing. In the decade we've been in business I've seen increasing interest in progressive contemporary goods. Atlanta style is becoming a mix of the old and new and that's an exciting thing. I think people are learning there can be a marriage between things they've accumulated and inherited and new things that reflect the time we live in." 

Switch Modern opened 10 years ago as a Poliform showroom, adding other lines and then home accessories and lighting. 

"Now we have 100 lines that we represent," Otwell said. "Our point of view is that they're decidedly contemporary, progressive luxury goods and we try to insist that they are responsibly produced." 

"When I see brand new designs I ask myself what makes them work," Otwell said. "It's the sense of optimism: We can broaden our horizons and can make something better and can make a new design." 

As buyer, Otwell chooses products that "fascinate me," he said. With the exception of a few accessories, he "won't take on major items if the products are already represented in our marketplace-you will not find things at Switch Modern that you can find anywhere else" and you also won't find reproductions or knock-offs. 

"We carry original designs," he said, "because we feel strongly about the architects, designers and manufacturers who put time and effort into these things and we want them to benefit." New stock arrives routinely. 

Switch Modern is located at 1193 Howell Mill Rd. NW. For more information call 404-605-0196 or visit 

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