Designer for Hire

Square feet

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Michelle Hotchkiss, real estate agent and mid century fiend, has square feet and a nose for great property. Each issue she brings us her pick of the week.

common area

Photo courtesy of Tierra Antigua Realty


Photo by Ellie Leacock

Where it is: Catalina Foothills Condominiums on E. Skyline Drive.

Listed by:  Tierra Antigua Realty

The damage: $235,000.

You’ll love it because:  This ’60s-built property is in a special enclave of burnt adobe townhomes that circle a community pool and award-winning koi pond.  The condos, all pod-style and none with square rooms, were designed by Juan Worner Baz and real estate developer Helen Murphey. One of the units was recently featured on the inaugural Tucson Modernism Week home tour.  The subdivision is peppered with statues of philosophers and saints, and you walk out your back patio up through landscaped berms that create privacy from unit to unit, to the pool area.

Here comes the but: After the home tour everyone wants one, so I predict this rare opportunity won’t last long. Plus, some may find the homeowners’ association fees a bit steep at $295 a month.

Find more of Michelle’s property picks at Atomic Tucson.

Front entrance

Photo courtesy of Tierra Antigua Realty


Photo courtesy of Tierra Antigua Realty


Photo courtesy of Tierra Antigua Realty







Et cetera

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Still stuck on your New Year’s resolutions? Not to worry. We’ve got them all sewn up. This year you should resolve to….

1. Eat more.

Specifically, eat more pizza at Magpies. Yes, we know, it’s not news that they sell arguably the best pie in town. But this year the chain will undergo an overhaul by Jason Anderson, the man behind the buzzworthy new Asian place Umi Star. And if we know Jason and his envelope-pushing work, it will be worth a visit.

Screen Shot 2013-01-06 at 11.03.02 AM 2. Drink more.

Tea, that is. Pay a visit to Amelia Grey’s Cafe at its new location, 3073 N. Campbell, for a high tea on vintage dishes, or to catch a game of football. Yes, that’s right: football. Because this is not some girly fancy-china place. They also sell sandwiches (including a Game-Day special), broadcast a game, and are an approved U of A caterer. Amelia Grey’s tailgating party, anyone?

3. Have a ball.

A Paper Ball. The Drawing Studio’s annual gala and fundraiser on January 25 will celebrate artists and the character of paper, with 200 paper artworks on display, a silent auction of Tucson artist’ work, plus food, drink and music. Plus, check out the talks in the run-up to the event, from the likes of Tucson Weekly art critic Margaret Regan, and artist Nick Georgiou, who appeared in 3 Story’s very first issue.  Info, tickets and sponsorship details are available online at or call 520-620-0947.

4. Work out.

But do it in a way that won’t mean you give it up after 30 days. With classes in yoga, zumba, jazz, adult dance cardio and more, plus a brand new space at 828 N. Stone, we’re pegging Breakout Studios as a fitness place to watch this year. It’s for children and adults of all levels. We dare you to be bored. Call (520) 670- 1301 for classes.

Break Out Studios

5. Be thankful…

…that we have not taken a tumble off the fiscal cliff. And be finance-savvy, especially when it comes to property. Tucson’s prices are rising, and interest rates are low. Time, say property experts, to stop sitting on our hands and turn 2013 into a year of buying and selling opportunity. For all the latest property news from Tucson’s Brent VanKoevering, click here. for sale




My Space

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Artist Alec Laughlin on the historic space that inspires him, and helped give birth to a new collective of Tucson artists.

Alec Laughlin's studio, My Space 1/7/13

Alec Laughlin’s space in Tucson’s Citizens Warehouse. Photo by Gillian Drummond

“I used to work out of the garage of my home in West University. Then I was asked to be in a couple of shows here at the Citizens Warehouse. My partner walked in here and said ‘This is going to be your space’.

“Working here, on the first floor of the warehouse, makes a huge difference to me. I tend to be a bit of a recluse socially but being in a building and having the other artists here, you can talk shop.

“My studio is enormous, with great, natural light pouring in through windows on the east and north sides. We’re next to the train tracks. They can be so loud that if you’re standing talking you have to shut up. But I think in general everyone really enjoys the rumble and the building shaking a little.

“I’m not much for things. My house is really minimalist. If I don’t use something I just get rid of it. Here, I’ve borrowed a sofa and chairs from one of the other artists. There’s a pool table that belongs to someone else. Someone else gave me two large mirrors and they provide great cross lighting. I have an easel but I don’t know why because I never use it. And there’s a small fridge with beer for the boys – the other artists.

Alec Laughlin's studio, My Space 1/7/13

Alec Laughlin’s sketches, and ball and chain. Photo by Gillian Drummond

“There’s a ball and chain on the desk – a friend who’s a collector gave it to me. It’s from a Louisiana chain gang. I joke that it’s my engagement ring.

“I work at a drafting table. I work with acrylic and charcoal on board and sometimes on canvas. Acrylic dries quickly and I can do layers upon layers. I’ve seen the sunrise a few times. When I start an art project it’s dangerous, because nothing else will get my attention. Sometimes I’ll work on a piece for two days straight. I’ve been known to take a painting and hold it in front of one of my space heaters, or put it out in the sun to make it dry faster.

“There are more than twenty artists in the warehouse, as well as BICAS. There’s actually a waiting list for space. It’s low-rent and just artistically it’s a warm atmosphere.”


Self-portrait by Alec Laughlin

Last June Alec and several other Citizens Warehouse artists formed the Citizens Artist Collective, a non-profit intent on promoting arts and calling attention to the historic building and potential redevelopment. “The more social capital we can build, the more unappealing it might be for a developer to come in turn it into condos,” says Laughlin. In February the CAC will publish a book about its members. You can pre-purchase it for $40 at

44 W 6th SREET, STE 2A
TUCSON, AZ 85705-8374

* For more on BICAS see our Issue 5 feature.

Golden girl of the west

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New York and Los Angeles beware. Tucson’s Sydney Ballesteros is making waves in the world of fashion styling. And we’re placing bets on her sailing straight to the top.  By Gillian Drummond.

Golden Girl of the West

Photo by Stacia Lugo. Wardrobe courtesy of Black Cat Vintage.
Styling by Sydney Ballesteros

As a young child she was sneaking into her mom’s clothes closet and slipping into her high heels. At 12 she was diving headfirst into movies like Casablanca and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In high school she was known as “Syd with the crazy clothes”, and every spare dollar from a part-time job was spent combing the thrift stores of Fourth Avenue.

Sydney Ballesteros

Sydney Ballesteros. Photo by Puspa Lohmeyer

It’s no surprise, then, that Sydney Ballesteros should have ended up working in fashion, and specializing in vintage. Today this 30-year-old is wowing with head-turning looks, as a fashion stylist for magazines, stores and fashion shows. Quietly, assuredly and very cleverly she is carving out a niche, and emerging as a bright young talent not just locally but nationally. Clients include, locally, Zocalo magazine and Black Cat Vintage. At the recent opening reception for Tucson’s first Modernism Week, she styled live ‘sculptures’ with midcentury looks. This month she makes her second appearance in the national Matchbook magazine.

Although vintage is her thing, that doesn’t mean she styles exclusively vintage. She likes to put vintage into an editorial and make it look fresh and modern. “Vintage is so timeless, and fashion recreates itself from the inspirations of what’s been done already, so with care, attention to detail and the right pair of eyes, vintage can do that,” she says.

Claudine Villardito, owner of Black Cat Vintage, a client and a close friend, calls Sydney’s style unique for its “cutting edge concepts told through vintage pieces.” Adds Claudine: “She can take a half-century old piece of clothing and make it look like it just walked down the runway.”

Golden Girl of the West pink dress shot

Photo by Stacia Lugo. Wardrobe courtesy of Black Cat Vintage. Styling by Sydney Ballesteros

“It was inevitable,” says Sydney of her passion for clothes. Her parents were musicians, and Sydney would sneak into her mom’s closet to try on her shiny stage gear. Her grandmother was an antiques collector, and at the age of five or six, Sydney was already fond of yard sales and antique malls. At age twelve Sydney started to notice her grandmother’s clothing from the 1930s and ‘40s. She would stare at old black and white photos of her, be intrigued by the teased hairstyles, and wonder what it was like to live back then. She began to watch old movies with her grandmother, and still rates Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 42nd Street and Rear Window among her favorites.

At Tucson High School she was “Syd with the crazy clothes”. The school is just a hop and a skip from Fourth Avenue, where she would go thrift shopping at every opportunity.

At college, she began studying costume design, then quickly realized she was more interested in “painting the picture on things already made.” Some basic art classes followed, and a class in creative writing would also prove valuable when she started conjuring up vignettes for shoots.

Sydney’s first foray into fashion styling came in 2006, when she was asked to style someone in the 1930s era for a film audition. She started writing and then styling for Zocalo magazine. Meantime, her blog, Golden Girl of the West, was getting noticed, and now draws high numbers every month.

When Sydney styles, she also directs and writes, if only in her head. Many times she creates a character for a model to inhabit, even a back story for them to act out, with the storyline usually taking an unexpected turn. “I like to get people as excited as I am about the end result,” she says. She tends to use the same crew to achieve that: make-up artist Tangie Duffey, hairstylist Raul Mendoza, and photographers Puspa Lohmeyer and Stacia Lugo.

Sydney is quiet, polite and modest, yet not afraid to steal attention with her work, and attract stares with her own personal look. One day she may be dressed 1930s, with pin curls, cupid bow lips, round wire-rimmed glasses and a pencil skirt. Another, it might be floaty 1960s. “I still jump around a lot and it depends on mood. I’m a mood dresser. It could be music I hear or something I’m inspired by that day,” she says of her clothes choices.

On the day 3 Story met her, Syd was having a mod ‘60s day: black and white shift dress, red Mary Janes, and pale lip gloss. She has enough clothes that they inhabit a spare bedroom of her 1940s adobe house, and then some (there are more outfits in storage boxes in her garage). But before you start forming the wrong impression, she says she rarely buys clothes these days. “I started building my collection at a really early age, so I don’t need to go and buy a lot of things.”

Self-taught in the history of fashion – by reading books and magazines, and  watching films and documentaries – she didn’t take an actual fashion history course until she attended college for the second time, aged 24. She knows what to jump on when she sees it for sale and what she may easily find again down the line.

“Sydney was my Christmas present in 2009,” recalls Claudine Villardito. Syd made an appointment to see her, and hours later they were still talking. Now Syd is Claudine’s stylist, helping create a monthly fashion editorial on her website called Garment District. (For more on Claudine, see 3 Story’s feature, Seriously Vintage.)

Golden Girl of the West

Photo by Stacia Lugo. Wardrobe courtesy of Black Cat Vintage. Styling by Sydney Ballesteros

“Since then she has become my right hand or perhaps, more specifically, my right thumb.  I can’t imagine running Black Cat Vintage without her,” says Claudine. “Sydney has that curious mix of talents that can’t be taught or listed on a resume; her skill set comes from living what she works.  It blows me away when she uses a garment I’ve looked at a hundred times in a completely unexpected way.   I have seriously considered hiring her to dress me in the morning.”

Golden Girl of the West

Photo by Stacia Lugo. Wardrobe courtesy of Black Cat Vintage. Styling by Sydney Ballesteros

“I wonder sometimes if she is a fashion messenger from the past, here to revive the styles of old. With just a little verve, she is able to transcend time and prove nothing is passé,” says David Olsen, publisher and creative director of Zocalo Magazine, who calls Sydney’s creativity “limitless”.

“Working with Syd has made me a better photographer,” says Stacia Lugo, who believes she has not only perfected her craft, but learned a lot about vintage fashion. “Sydney is like no other creative I’ve worked with. She has big things coming her way.”

“In the beginning it was very hard. It’s hard to get people as excited about it as you are. It’s a unique thing, to have such a passion for something,” says Sydney. “It’s hard to get vintage fashion on the map. For years I had to be a go-getter and knock on people’s doors. Now I’m getting to the point where work is coming to me.”

But being grounded and happy is as important to her as her career. Married to Carlos, whom she has been best friends with since the age of 12, and mother to 11-year-old Romeo and her wheaten terrier Gracie (“the diva daughter I never had”), she says she prefers a glass of wine and a quiet night in over a party or big night out.

She is deeply rooted in Tucson – with ten generations of family before her – and says her family keeps her real. (She is also passing on her passion for vintage to young Romeo; she’s proud to say he was the only kindergartner in his school to know about the retro product Bakelite).

Tucson has been good to her professionally too, she says. This is a place without the resources of big North American cities, and often limited or no budget, she says. Yet through her collaborations with local stores (Black Cat Vintage, Razzle Dazzle, Buffalo Exchange, Desert Vintage, How Sweet It Was), and with the help of her regular make-up, hairstylist and photographer crew, she says she is able to give other cities a run for their money.

Golden Girl of the West “Sydney is undoubtedly “one to watch” in Tucson and far beyond,” says Claudine Villardito. “Look for her on Vogue’s masthead within ten years.”

Sydney realizes that she may have to make a move eventually, probably to New York City, if she is to climb higher up the fashion ladder. Until then, though, she’s happy to help put Tucson on the fashion styling map. “Just because I’m in Tucson doesn’t mean I can’t put out the same work as someone in New York or Los Angeles. Tucson, and Arizona, is a treasure trove of talented, kind and creative people. It’s like the best kept secret.”


Photo above by Stacia Lugo. Wardrobe courtesy of Black Cat Vintage. Styling by Sydney Ballesteros

A marriage that’s more than convenient

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The husband and wife team of Baker + Hesseldenz has been building up business on the down low. Here’s why we think 2013 will be their year in the spotlight.


Scott Baker and Mary Ann Hesseldenz
Photo by Gillian Drummond

Take pop surrealist art, American antiques, vintage, mid-century mod, and art nouveau. Then take a fashion designer and a furniture maker. Add some entrepreneurial flair, good looks, a stunning 1960s home, and a Mercedes van. Put them all together and you have the marriage – both personal and professional – of Baker + Hesseldenz.

Baker is furniture maker Scott Baker. Hesseldenz is fashion designer turned interior designer Mary Ann Hesseldenz. They describe their style as “classic modern”. Whatever it is, it and its founders are ones to keep an eye on.

Their reputation is spreading quietly but solidly through word of mouth and with little marketing or fanfare. They’re about to launch their own furniture line. And their latest project? None other than the new abode of Tucson-based king of alternative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil.

Hillcrest Residence in the works

Hillcrest Residence in the works
Photo courtesy of Baker + Hesseldenz

The two met at a Tucson furniture expo Mary Ann had helped organize (at the time she was dabbling in furniture design.) One look at Scott Baker’s furniture and she knew she had spotted talent. She strategically placed her own furniture next to his, thinking she might piggy-back on his success, and the people he clearly knew.

Baker + Hesseldenz Residence
Photo courtesy of Baker + Hesseldenz

That was back in 2003. Last April they got married, and celebrated in the backyard of the 1960s home they share in Tucson’s Foothills. Their own home sums up their style, one that straddles mid-century modernism and a classic European look, with a few eccentricities thrown in.

“We love skulls – bird skulls, javalina skulls,” announces Mary Ann, hinting to what the new furniture line may include. Scott’s crafted dining table mixes with ’60s chairs and a vintage chandelier. A bathroom is still true to the 1960s, with original kitschy fittings. The backyard is an exercise in Hollywood regency luxe; the cabana they got married under, constructed by Scott, features a cantilevered platform that extends over the pool, floaty white drapes, and low-slung lounge furniture.


Photo by Gillian Drummond

Mary Ann is the extrovert, the entrepreneur, a woman who had fire in her belly at an early age. At 19 she owned a vintage clothing store in her native Indianapolis. She was designing clothing pieces for it, re-imagining classic items into her own style. New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology came next, then a stint in fashion design for two companies in New York City. Before long she branched out into her own studio. As well as fashion, graphic and textile design, she did celebrity branding, helping the likes of Richard Simmons and Kathie Lee Gifford launch their own collections.

If she was gutsy and ambitious to begin with, New York City simply added another layer to that skin. “It’s a jungle,” she says. “If I didn’t know how to do something I’d say ‘Sure, I can do that’.” And she’d teach herself.


Baker + Hesseldenz Residence
photo by Madeleine Boos

Twenty years, a son and a faltering marriage later, she found herself visiting her sister in Tucson and making plans to join her. She bought her home “by Fed Ex”, making an offer and closing the deal without having been inside it. “I knew it was 1960s and  knew it had not been remodeled,” which was exactly what she wanted.

Mary Ann moved to Tucson the day before 9/11. She woke up the next day and filed for divorce. The fresh start spilled over into her work. Knowing she could not make a living here in fashion design, she tried her hand at furniture and interiors. “Interior design was always my second passion,” she says.


Baker + Hesseldenz Residence
Photo courtesy of Baker + Hesseldenz

Along came that furniture expo she helped curate, and Scott Baker, who has built his reputation designing furniture and fittings. Scott was Philadelphia-born, moving here when he was two months old. When his parents divorced and his mom settled in New Jersey, he would visit his physician father here in Tucson for vacations. Then after a stint at Rutgers University, he finished off his degree at the University of Arizona. His subject was history, but by then he was curious about architecture and interiors.

Quieter than Mary Ann, and modest in the extreme, Scott doesn’t spill much about his furniture work, which has appeared in the bar at North, as well as Sauce. As well as designing furniture, he ran Metroform Limited, a fine arts photography gallery, for a time. Since Mary Ann lost all of her art in her divorce, much of the art in their home is Scott’s.

Sopha cocktail table – Scott Baker
Photo courtesy of
Baker + Hesseldenz
See 3 Story’s Fasten Your Seabelts

Virginia console Baker + Hesseldenz

Virginia console – Scott Baker
Photo courtesy of Baker + Hesseldenz

Terry Etherton, owner of Etherton Gallery, has worked closely with Scott both at the gallery and  privately. The gallery exhibited Scott’s furniture, and Terry hired him to make shelves for his downtown historic home in Tucson. Terry calls Scott’s work “exquisite. He’s a master designer and woodworker.”

Scott and Mary Ann have acquired several pieces from Etherton Gallery for their home, and for Andrew Weil’s. “Given the quality of everything in their house, we are really pleased that work by our artists is on display there,” says Terry.

The Baker + Hesseldenz magic has also worked for Tucson architect Clayton R. Joyce, who introduced Scott and Mary Ann to Chicago clients building a home in Pima Canyon.  The clients saw Scott’s furniture at Etherton Gallery, and one thing led to another. “We brought them in to do the closets originally and their work extended into other areas of the project,” says Clayton.

Scott and Mary Ann’s tastes are varied, from pop surrealist art and vintage (“anything that has a past,” says Mary Ann) to, in Scott’s case, American antiques, the 18th century, and art nouveau. On living and working together, Mary Ann says: “We don’t know any different. We met and started working together. We don’t know any other relationship.”

Pima Canyon Baket + Hesseldenz

Pima Canyon floating dresser
Photo courtesy of Baker + Hesseldenz

It helps, of course, that Mary Ann is “a huge fan of his work”. As for Scott, he says he “doesn’t want to take the reins all the time”, consulting Mary Ann each step of the way.

This is a couple not only interested in bringing their design to the desert, but in harnessing other design talent too. “People in Tucson have layered lives,” says Scott.

The couple would love to celebrate that talent with a warehouse showcase, one in which 10′ x 10′ spaces are given over to designers to put their stamp on.

wresidence 018

Andrew Weil Residence (with Rob Paulus Architects)
Photo courtesy of Baker + Hesseldenz

The Italian job

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Italy comes to Tucson next month with the opening of an ultramodern furniture showroom that’s set to put Tucson on the international design map. (Cover image courtesy of Poliform USA)


Photo by Madeleine Boos

When architect Kevin Howard opens a new furniture showroom next month, he’ll be causing a stir in Tucson’s design world, as well as bringing a hot international brand to the public.

The Poliform brand, born in Italy in 1970, has built a reputation worldwide on modern luxury and exquisite quality. Its collection of modular systems and furnishings cover the entire house: bookcases, wardrobes, beds, kitchens, sofas and armchairs.

You’ll find it in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. And there’s a small showroom in Phoenix. And so when news started circulating last summer that Poliform was coming to the Old Pueblo, it was a surprise – but a very welcome one.

IMG_0843 2

Kevin Howard. Photo by Madeleine Boos

Kevin discovered Poliform several years ago when he took some clients to the Los Angeles showroom. “We did our first Poliform kitchen installation for these clients and I fell in love with it.”

Kevin is known for an architectural style that’s modern but inviting, and so his connection to the brand made sense, he says. ’There was a warmth and sleekness that resonated with my aesthetic. That’s really what I’m in search of. The biggest compliment I get as an architect is if someone doesn’t like modern architecture and they walk in [to one of my homes] and say ‘This feels warm for a modern house, this isn’t cold at all’.”

But it was Kevin’s search for the right furniture that solidified the launch of his own Poliform showroom. “It’s difficult to find resources to furnish my houses,” he says.  A pet peeve of his is how the wrong couch can ruin the lines of a house. In a search for the perfect sofa with clean low-slung lines, he was led to the modular Dune model by Poliform.

Shortly after, on a similar Google search for the quintessential modern dining chair, Kevin arrived at the Scacchi chair, again by Poliform. “I thought ‘I see a pattern developing here’,” he says.

So last April he and business manager Jodi Bellah applied to Poliform USA to open a dealership. Despite there already being a Phoenix showroom, Poliform’s director of sales Luca Bizi saw the potential of the Tucson market. Luca was already a fan of Kevin’s work – how he “incorporated Poliform Varenna cabinetry into his homes as if it were part of the architecture.”

Luca added, “Some of our (Poliform’s) best relationships are with dealers who are designers, interior designers and architects. They often have the best solutions to offer the client.”


Photo by Gillian Drummond

The Tucson showroom will serve Southern Arizona and New Mexico, and feedback from designers here and in Santa Fe has been “extremely positive”, says Kevin. Already committed is the Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club, which is using Poliform cabinets and tables in the construction of its new bar.

It says a lot about Tucson’s aesthetic, style and design population that Poliform would choose to open a showroom here, says interior designer Lori Carroll. And being accepted into the Poliform family is no mean feat. The showroom and its setting has to come up to scratch. There are specific guidelines and instructions for assembly, and even display. Even faux cardboard books are staged according to Poliform guidelines. The dealer must fund the showroom and select and purchase the furniture and cabinetry to go in it.  And there is extensive training by Poliform in Milan, on the engineering and assembly of the product.


Photo by Madeleine Boos

The showroom is located next to Kevin Howard Architects in a building designed and owned by the firm, one with a glass and oxidized steel exterior and, on the inside, clean white walls, wood plank ceilings and limestone floors. The strong horizontal lines of a modular walnut wall system serve as backdrop to the expansive Dune sofa. Two sculptural leather chairs in dark leather, aptly named Snake, complete the seating area.

In a glass corner sits the elegant Wallace chair, a 21st century take on the classic Vitra La Chaise chair by Charles and Ray Eames. Instead of hard plywood, it’s molded flexible polyurethane shrouded in white leather.

Poliform also does kitchen cabinetry, sold under the brand name Varenna. The kitchen vignettes in the Tucson showroom are a mix of rift-sawn oak and glossy and embossed lacquers. Appliances are by Miele and countertops are either locally sourced Caesarstone quartz, thin Poliform glass, or solid-surface white Corian manufactured exclusively for Poliform.

Kevin is passionate about the organization of the systems and the precise engineering of the design details. “It’s like Tinker Toys for architects,” he says.


Photo by Gillian Drummond

State-of-the-art closet systems feature UV protected glass and leather handles. Cabinet hardware is integral to the door or disappears entirely. Appliances like fridges, washer and dryers are hidden behind seamless integrated panels. Kitchen drawers are designed to store every imaginable utensil; spice racks, kitchen scales and magnetic knife racks can all be worked into it. Drawers softly glide and doors gently close. “You can’t fight in a Poliform house,” jokes Kevin.

The showroom also includes premier outdoor furniture brand, Dedon; one of its vintage surfboards rests against a wall. Arizona Sound & Light designed the automated control system; window shades, lighting, the HVAC, and audio systems are all operated from an iPad mounted on a wall.

3 Story’s own Madeleine Boos, an architect and interior designer, says the arrival of Poliform to the Tucson desert makes sense, especially with Kevin Howard at the helm. “His homes are not stark white boxes in the desert. Poliform doesn’t just make furniture, it creates a lifestyle. It offers a sensual minimalism against the rigorous and harsh beauty of the desert.”


Photo by Madeleine Boos

But Poliform’s sleek, functional aesthetic comes at a price; plan on spending a little more than you might down the street.  Depending on dimensions and fabrics, sofas can start around $6000. Wall systems, closet systems and cabinetry run the gamut, determined by materials, configuration and hardware inserts. There are many imposters in the market offering a similar look, but Poliform fans say the same quality is not there.

A trained installer is a must. In order to train his own staff, Kevin flew in a seasoned Poliform installer from Italy. A stay at the Westward Look and a few rounds of golf and, says Kevin, this Milanese fell in love with the American west – and just might be back for the next install.

* For more information on Poliform and Varenna, visit The showroom is at Oracle Studios, 8339 N. Oracle Road. Contact the showroom for pricing and lead times at 520-322-6800.

Pleased to Meet You

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Photo courtesy of Dan Gibson

Photo by John DeDios

As the new editor of Tucson Weekly, Dan Gibson is another one to watch. Here he discusses his plans for the paper, his twin passions, and why he’d still like a late night now and again.

Are you an early bird or a night owl? “I was generally a night owl for most of my life, but now I have two kids that’s changed a little bit. I like going out still but by 11pm I’m falling asleep on the couch.

“When my wife and I were first married, and before that, we were music people and going to shows. Then when they changed the closing times from 1 to 2 am, and we were about to have our son, I said ‘That’s great. I may never see that time again.’

“But I love this city and I want to be at things, so I’ll be up late whenever I need to be. I’m fortunate to have family in town and my wife is super-supportive [of my new job] so if we need to go out we’ll find a way.”

Favorite accessory? “My iPhone. I’m in general an easily distracted person who jumps from thought to thought all the time. When I first got a smart phone it was like, this is somewhere I can focus on things and keep track of it.

“I’m checking up on Tucson things that are happening, and reading daily newspapers and other alt-weeklies. I’m on my phone all the time. It’s the thing I can’t leave home without. I could walk out of the house without my wallet but if I left my phone it would be a disaster.”

Favorite faux pas? “Honestly, I’m so mortified when I feel like I’ve done something improper or impolite that I lack the sort of perspective to appreciate those sort of comical moments. But if I had to pick something, I’ve always had a soft spot for heckling at sports events. It’s a real craft to say mildly awful but pointed remarks to athletes. I’m sort of a natural, although that’s probably not something to be proud of.”

Dream reader? “Right now my dream reader is someone who should be a reader and isn’t. I feel such a passion for the city and I want to encourage people who maybe don’t feel that way, who are looking for places to go out and things to do. My dream reader is someone I can help convince to break out of these ruts, who maybe eats at the same places, who never interacts with the galleries, to teach them to break out of of their bubble.

“The question is, what can Tucson Weekly do now? How can we expand the reach, do things differently and tell stories with the latest ways in terms of digital and multi-media? That’s what’s compelling about my job.”

If I weren’t a journalist I would…“Be working in the music industry. I stumbled into journalism. I was always going to do something in the music business. I and my wife left Tucson and moved to California to work for a record label. I was in sales and marketing. My passion for writing came from writing about music at first, but [soon] there wasn’t really much of a music business left.

“The jobs in the music business were disappearing left and right. By this time I had a wife and child to support. So I  worked as a freelancer, mostly for iTunes. I was between two perilous industries – record labels and journalism.

“Do I play an instrument? No! I once was a drummer for about a week. I’m the one who, when someone says ‘I think I heard some song once…’ I can tell them what it is. But I’m terrible at trying to play myself.”

If I could change one thing I would…“I might have started writing sooner. I stumbled around for 10 or 15 years doing things that weren’t writing. On the other hand, my life worked out this way for a reason. My life is really good right now.”

tw_logo1Dan Gibson took over as the new editor of Tucson Weekly in December. This year the alternative weekly celebrates its 30th birthday.