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Design Providential: Exploring Providence, Rhode Island

By Greg Moniz

Much has been said about the power of a post-industrial city to reinvent itself. 

Providence, Rhode Island, home to our studio and workshop, has never had it as bad as, say, a Detroit--a city of crumbling factories and abandoned stately mansions that is of late a phoenix rising from its ashes. But as a former manufacturing center hit hard by changing economics more than once, Providence has harnessed the power of the 'blank slate' to transform itself into a hub of creativity.

The biggest city in the smallest state, it is developing a stylish reputation that is resonating both inside the city's borders and around the world. Innovative restaurants are opening, artists are welcomed with open arms, and creative start-ups are impressing the world. 

Proclaimed the 'coolest city you haven't been to' by GQ and placed prominently on the New York Times list of places to see in 2016, Providence is having its long-due day in the sun. As we take a break from the Lotuff studio, we explore some of the special places that make Providence the 'Creative Capital':

The Dean Hotel

The physical embodiment of a city replacing its gritty, insular past with an open, cosmopolitan present, the Dean is a boutique hotel located in the city's downtown. Opened two years ago in a former brothel, the Dean, its name a nod to Providence's storied institutions of higher education, is seeing a steady guest list of visitors from places as diverse as nearby Cambridge to Copenhagen. 

With an emphasis on clean, classic design and sexy fun, the Dean complements its individually unique rooms with a coffee house, candle-lit cocktail bar, Asian-style karaoke lounge, and German beer hall. 

Food by North 

 Providence's food scene is outsized considering how little the city is. But that's a good thing. Chefs who have been trained in some of the finest restaurants in the world often come to Providence to try it out for themselves. Enter food by North, a tiny restaurant in the city's West End started by James Mark, a Momofuku alum. 

If one were to label North's food, it would somehow meet at the intersection of South Carolina and South Korea. But it often defies labels, which makes it so incredible.