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Home

Designs on a hip clientele

A home furnishing store targets the young and the sophisticated.

By ELIZABETH BETTENDORF
Published December 1, 2006


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It wasn't long ago that you had to go to New York to see a home-design showroom this hip - not to mention locally owned.

Voscher Home Collection opened recently at 610 S Armenia Ave. Its founder, Scott Scherschel, is best known for a design firm, Interior Spaces Inc., that he runs with his partner, Chip Vogel.

The firm specializes in small spaces, particularly kitchens. Their work has attracted the attention of HGTV, Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens. Their commercial designs can be seen in the Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain.

Their South Tampa showroom, like Scherschel's designs, recalls a mix of movie-star glamour and high-tech sensibility, blending refurbished modern furnishings from the mid-20th century with artistic videos streaming on a flat-screen TV. (See it at www.voscher.com.)

Scherschel paired with St. Petersburg designers Sally Zimmermann and Frank Chapman, who own the design firm Alice June Graphics, to create the store's funky graphics that appear on fabrics, shower curtains, fabrics and napkins. Scherschel and Vogel combined their last names to come up with the store's name, Voscher.

Their collaboration can be seen most notably in the artwork that catches the eye at the door.

"We wanted to offer something to people who live in loft spaces and have gigantic walls and needed artwork," Scherschel said. "Many people don't want to invest the $15,000 to $20,000 to buy an original piece, so we decided to produce something less expensive."

The digitally created photographic images include everything from archival turn-of-the-century swimmers to an abstract photographic pairing of elbows. Prices average about $350.

Scherschel already is talking to a local potter about creating a line of dishes, and he's mulling a line of pet accessories that would include beds, clothing and other urban must-haves for the pampered Fido or feline.

"One of the things we saw was that there seemed to be a strong market for accessories to complement this mid-century style," Scherschel explained.

Furniture and lighting are vintage, refurbished and reupholstered, although Scherschel hopes to eventually interest a furniture designer in producing a line just for Voscher.

He branched out from his Interior Spaces business after he and Vogel scaled back their restaurant design work in recent years.

His friendship and business relationship with Zimmermann and Chapman goes back five or six years to projects they collaborated on for Ruby Tuesday.

The Voscher showroom was originally part of the Interior Spaces offices, located in an adjoining office. Most days, a pack of five Norwich terriers - Bailey, Buckley, Billy, Bobby and Brooklyn - greets visitors. Two belong to Scherschel and Vogel and the rest belong to friends. Scherschel introduces them as "the kids."

A quick peek around the office reveals a cache of high-design vintage: from 1960s lamps ($180 for one with a disc-shaped shade) to a newly upholstered pale pink 1950s slipper chair ($850). A two-section microsuede sofa - probably from the 1970s - is priced at $1,700.

It's Scherschel's attention to detail that gives the store its elan, including the Lucite tic-tac-toe set on the cocktail table and the pair of chunky red 1970s women's shoes that look as though someone just slipped off and tossed on the shag rug.

The floors are exposed concrete; the beams black. A display shelf features a selection of cocktail shakers, ice buckets and accessories from the 1930s.

He says he hopes the store will appeal to a young, sophisticated clientele who own lofts or condos and are looking for "cool stuff" to put in them.

"You can go find stuff cheaper," he says, "but whatever you buy here, you're not going to find anywhere else."

Zimmermann, who has worked in store display for Macy's and Burdines, says she believes that "the times are ripe" for a store like Voscher because of the national consolidation of department store ownership and fewer choices for the consumer.

"People are hungry for what's unique and different," she said.

[Last modified November 30, 2006, 11:09:25]


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