Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Houston - Who Knew?

Some of you won't believe me when I say this, so brace yourselves: Houston, Texas, may very well be where it's at. Believe me, I was blown away by this, too. But it's true, there's really something really good going on here. Some say it may be the next Austin, or even better.

Truthfully, I like Houston as it is now, a progressively budding culture generally unknown by the masses (or at least the majority of the US). Nonetheless, I thought I would attempt to shed a little light on the city. Houston gets a bad rap, generally known for its heat, humidity, republicans and oil. But there's more. I've only barely scratched the surface of the city, but here are just a few of my favorite discoveries so far:

The Rothko Chapel
Though the website is in dire need of a redesign, the space itself is breathtaking and intensely spiritual. The depth and movement in the paintings, combined with the simple minimalism of the architecture and brilliant natural lighting, create the perfect space to be alone with your thoughts.

Domy Bookstore
I stepped foot in Domy for the first time today, and added pretty much every book I saw to my mental wishlist. I should really never shop here without a friend who is strong enough to hold me back. They specialize in contemporary design and art books, graphic novels, periodicals, video, etc. They are very progressive, and I was especially excited to see quite a few editioned books among the machine-bound.

Anvil Bar & Refuge
Another site redesign waiting to happen, the concoctions here are top notch. The menu features prohibition-era cocktails, all made from scratch with homemade infusions and fresh fruits and herbs, and served artfully in vintage glasses. The space itself is an old Firestone tire shop, embellished with reclaimed materials and salvaged artifacts. This is one bar where the drinks are definitely worth the slightly higher prices.

AIGA Houston
Yes, Houston is mainly oil and gas. But who says that calls for bad design? I am happy to report that there is a very healthy and active design community here, and plenty of AIGA events to look forward to. Just last week, Armin Vit drove in from Austin to speak about his new book, Graphic Design Referenced (which you should definitely own). I am also finding more and more design firms with inspiring work, including Savage Design, Axiom, ph Design Shop, BrandExtract, Herring Design, Rigsby-Hull, and Origin Design. More on these another time.

And yes, there's an app for that:

SwebApps Button Demo: AIGA Houston from Magaly Chocano on Vimeo.

As the job search is still under way, I'm not sure whether I will be staying in Houston for long, but I definitely like what I see. After spending 13 years in Sugar Land, not loving the suburban way of life, it's great to finally be discovering H-town in all of its glory. I must say, I am impressed. I can't believe what has been right under my nose all along! Who knew?