Thomas Michaels Designers, Inc.
11 Elm Street
Camden, ME 04843
Winter & Spring
Tuesday through Saturday
10:00AM - 5:00PM
Summer & Fall
Monday through Saturday
10:00AM - 5:00PM
STORY OF GALLERY
In the spring of 2008 we had our eye on a building on US Route 1, 11 Elm Street Camden, Maine. Rumor had it that the business in that fabulous space was closing. We wanted to take this historic building and transform it into a cosmopolitan design gallery. In April we took our 30th wedding anniversary trip to Barcelona, Spain. Being renowned as a design and historic trend center for architecture and interior space design, it was a great source for inspiration on many levels. Inspiration came from the sensibility of the Modernist movement of the last century.
In the fall of 2008 the building became available. We took this opportunity and began to design concepts for the space. Everything in the finished gallery we designed and built. Attention was paid to every detail, from the layout of the gallery, to new lighting systems and concepts, textures, as well as finishes.
11 Elm Street, built in the late 1800's, had not been updated since the 1950's. We turned the space into a blank canvas by demolishing the interior, ripping everything out to the shell, including replacing all plumbing, electric, and heating and cooling systems. We excavated the basement lower to increase headroom and poured a new concrete floor to create a work and storage space as well as a galley and luxury bathroom. On the street level the first delightful find was that the original brickwork was well executed and created a wonderful backdrop for the gallery. We divided the first floor into two main spaces, the public gallery and offices and a secure vault room and production/design studio.
We needed to bring more light to the space. We accomplished this in few ways. In the rear of the building in the studio space the original brick walls revealed that the building originally had large windows, which at some point were bricked in. We took two of these large window spaces and removed the brick and replaced it with glass block. This provided an abundance of northern light in the studio and production/design office that also pours into the gallery. The entire storefront was removed to below sidewalk level to make way for a more inviting and open façade, modernizing, using a commercial application of anodized aluminum and thermal energy efficient glass. This curtain of glass brings light into the gallery as well as creates a panoramic view of the outside world of our village green and beautiful downtown Camden. The sensitive, asymmetrical arraignment of the panels of glass carries the theme of the design of the gallery. The design of the glass storefront reflects the break up of space separating different areas of the gallery. The gallery feature wall, shelving systems, and the cash wrap office area have the same visual rhythm as the storefront.
Much attention was paid to the scale and relationship of shapes through out the space. The design of the display was just as carefully considered. We wanted to utilize monolithic forms in the design of the showcases and shelving display to create a simple backdrop for our work. The sizes, shapes and forms were carefully designed to relate to the entire space. The open, clean lines of the showcases create a casual, comfortable environment and display that creates ease in conversation about design and the possibilities of the creation of beautiful pieces. These unique copyrighted shelving units allow for a flexibility of display, deviating from the commercial norm.
Colors in the gallery were chosen to work with the simplicity of the whole design. Black being the dominant color of the showcases, a very dark midnight blue was chosen to complement the showcases. The warm tans in the unique carpet and the walls compliment the brick and mortar. The texture and pattern of the carpet reflects the brick and the storefront. The new ceiling provided an important design element. The first floor had 12 feet high original ceilings. To create more intimacy in the gallery we dropped a flat white ceiling that appears to float 9 feet above the showcases and office areas. The floating ceiling, not touching the walls has warm cove lighting that seems to emanate from behind, washing the brick. We left a large opening in the center of the gallery to hang theatrical lighting in a black backdrop. Next was the design of our signage. Not wanting to break up our beautiful storefront with an exterior sign, we created an interior marquis in front of the gallery. The hand painted faux gold leaf marquis, is really designed as a light box it provides a subtle, dimmable, contemporary, unique graphic the brands the exterior of the gallery. All the elements we have utilized designing and creating this unique gallery communicates who we are as designers and our aesthetic sensibility, reflecting our design authority, knowledge and sensitivity in the incredible renowned jewelry we create.