Shop Talk: Design Lab OTR

A full-fledged furniture, lighting, and accessories showroom that offers interior design services opens their doors to the Cincinnati area. Have a glass of wine and sit on their imported designer couches. Just don’t spill.

Furniture and decor showroom Design Lab opened in May of this year in the center of a restless construction zone hammering out an updated Elm Street OTR business district.

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The double doors at 1401 open into a classic-contemporary design paradise—fitting to the aesthetics of the two design brains behind the operation. Director of Design Renan Menninger (who also offers residential interior design services) appreciates a contemporary feel with clean lines complemented by classic pieces, whereas Director of Contract Sales Barbara Neyer’s design preference offers an organic edge to the space.

The choice made by Menninger and Neyer to land their business in OTR branches from a love of architecture, urban lifestyle, and development. “We needed to balance the neighborhood with something like this,” says Menninger, referring to the abundance of restaurants and pubs in the area. The Design Lab storefront provides the community with a lifestyle space that welcomes visitors to stop in and be a part of a positive and welcoming environment. “A huge goal for us is being approachable,” says Menninger. Unlike other high-end design showrooms, Design Lab encourages visitors to get to know the pieces and their stories. The individually hand-stitched smoke chairs designed by Maarten Baas are a good place to start.

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This chair was designed by Tord Boontje and was hand-woven in Italy by Moroso with colorful threads normally used for fishing nets.

Menninger and her team carefully curate pieces for the Design Lab showroom from brands that uphold the integrity of original, authentic design. They want to educate the area on the importance of good quality pieces that have the potential to outlive multiple generations. “We’re not just selling them a sofa,” says Menninger. They hope to give families the opportunity to adopt a new heirloom into their homes with a piece from Design Lab. Some of the designers that make up a good portion of their furniture and objects inventory include Moroso, Ligne Roset, Moooi, and Bocci.

Aside from the furniture pieces imported from overseas, Menninger and team have also found ways to partner with other local businesses. The showroom features art from local galleries including Carl Solway and Miller Gallery. Menninger and Showroom Manager Hillary Randall have also worked with local fashion boutique Kit and Ace, and continue to look for more opportunities for local cross-branded projects. “We want to continue to collaborate with pretty much everybody down here,” says Menninger. This may eventually include the hosting of private events (for which they had a commercial-grade kitchen designed and installed) and themed socials for the community to enjoy. Sign up for their mailing list for updates, a party to celebrate the grand opening of the Cincinnati Streetcar is in the works.

Design Lab, 1401 Elm Street, Over-the-Rhine, (513)-620-7299, http://design-lab.com

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