With the completion of a new, vibrant mural by local artist MasPaz comes the next stage in LHA’s recent Placemaking Project: designing a new outdoor space at Cowboy Café. The Café has partnered with LHA, Dominion Lighting, Potomac Paint, and Esoarc Architects to create a new design for the layout of the outdoor seating area, as well as the installation of new lighting and paint touch ups.
LHA’s Communications Manager chatted recently with Matthew Rowan, VP of Residential Lighting for Dominion Lighting and Beth Boggs, Design Manager from Potomac Paint and Design Centers about how they approach projects such as these, what they envision the final product to be, and how each business is faring during COVID-19.
Maia Potok-Holmes: Thank you so much for agreeing to chat with us about this project! We’re incredibly excited.
Mathew Rowan: It’s my pleasure, I'm excited about the project too.
Beth Boggs: My pleasure as well.
MPH: So, let’s jump into it. With a project as big as this one, there’s obviously a lot of preparation one needs to do. How do you each approach a project like this?
we'd look to add in secondary features with gentler, dimmer pools of light. And of course, all walkway areas would want to have sufficient ground lighting to prevent trips or stumbles. The end result is, when done correctly, the best example of that term used so often in lighting design: "layers of light."
BB: In terms of paint, we often start by holding a series of conversations with our clients. We listen to their vision and make suggestions based on the function of the space, the clients’ needs, and how they want to change the space.
MPH: Matt, what are some things a lighting designer might need to take into consideration when designing an outdoor space?
MR: Aside from waterproofing constraints, lighting outside spaces actually offer a great deal more flexibility than indoor environments. We have far more scale that we can leverage, and since there aren't necessarily opaque walls and ceilings, we can often take advantage of "borrowed" landscape and vistas to add to the illuminated experience. Along with abundant darkness at night, we can add far more drama by choosing what's brightly featured and what can recede into deep shadow.
MPH: Beth, what about paint? What are some common misconceptions people have about choosing paint for their space?
wood, counter-top fabrics, and definitely pictures so we can see the space or room. I also always suggest that clients buy premium paint and paint the recommended coats. Your paint colors will have depth and be truer to the color chip.
MPH: What do you envision for the final product of this project? How do you hope to make an impact?
MR: I think there's a definite goal of creating something that reflects the best of European and South American street cafe culture, with the funkiness and distinct character that makes the Cowboy Cafe such a great part of the Lee Highway neighborhood experience. If we do our job right, we'll be able to make something that, while completely new, will also feel natural and like it's been a part of Cowboy Cafe for years and years. My favorite part of a project like this is that we can make a great impact in our own neighborhood. Being able to support a partner on Lee Highway is amazing, and anything we can do to help elevate the look and feel of the corridor will create a great experience for our neighbors and friends.
BB: Agreed! I love that we are improving our local area with color and art. Blank walls are now inspiring! MPH: As exciting as this project is, it was, of course, triggered by the COVID-19 shutdown. How are both of your businesses faring during this time?
MR: We've been doing the best that we can - during the full quarantine, we were working with our customers virtually by leveraging Zoom, phone calls, and facetime. It's hard to substitute for the in-person experience of working together, particularly when you're working on something as experience-based as lighting. Now that we have our showrooms open on an appointment-only basis, we're able to have our customers back in to see, feel, and experience lighting and fixtures so that we can more easily speak to our goals and understanding of what we can actually achieve.
MPH: How might the greater Arlington community be able to support you both? Why is shopping local so important?
whenever it's time for them or their friends to rethink their lighting, they think of us.
BB: Potomac Paint offers a wide variety of design services and products - everything from reupholstery fabrics, wallpaper and window treatments to paint chips and in store or in home design consultations. We love and appreciate the support of our community. Keep it local and we will all be strong together!
MPH: Thank you both again, so much, for agreeing to chat about all this. We’re so excited about the next steps in the project and to be working alongside Lee Highway businesses to create something special! Best of luck to the both of you.