Looks Sell • An all-out designer strategy for the tony units at the W Residences
in Boston may be the next big win-win written by barbara meltz • photography by eric roth
itting in his office one day last September, Peter Webster, vice president of Boston Design Center showroom Webster & Company,
got a call from a gloomy-sounding Kevin Ahearn, president of Otis
& Ahearn, the sales agent for W Boston Residences.
“What are you doing right now?’” Ahearn asked. “Can you
give me 30 minutes?” A 30-minute lunch turned into two hours.
By the time the men parted, Ahearn had gone from down in the
dumps to downright euphoric. Webster recalls heading back to his
office thinking, “We just might be onto something.”
When it opens in May, the “something” Webster and Ahearn
hatched over lunch will do nothing less than change the nature of
contractor-designer-broker relationships, use the dismal economy
to everyone’s advantage, and maybe set a national trend.
The name of this game-changer is “Inspired Concepts by
DVC.” The “DVC” stands for designers, vendors, and contractors, and represents a unique marketing collaboration between
W developer Sawyer Enterprises and seven of the region’s A-list
designers: Planeta Basque, Terrat Elms Interior Design, Ally
Coulter Designs, Fotene Design, Mark Christofi Interiors, Eric
Roseff Designs, and Meichi Peng Design.
On that September day, Ahearn had wanted Webster’s firm
to furnish a model unit befitting the 123 luxury condos in W’s
glass tower in Boston’s Theatre District. In tough economic times,
though, budget could not be matched to concept. After all, the
economy was the reason there would be no Dream Home — in
which top designers create concept rooms that can be viewed by
the public — at the Design Center this year.
Dream Home…Show House…Pushing his out-of-the-box
thinking, Ahearn suddenly couldn’t put the pieces together fast
enough: Take the seven units on the 20th floor off the market. Ask
designers to do the interiors for free, and vendors and contractors
to trade goods and services in exchange for exposure. Create a
must-see show-house effect, not for the public but for prospective
buyers. Generate buzz and excitement by turning the whole darn
floor into a combined sales/design event. Pull in an unexpected
audience by offering the setting to nonprofits for charity events.
Webster began making calls. No designer turned him down.
Sawyer put up $100,000 toward labor for lighting, electrical work,
and painting. Woodmeister Master Builders, an award-winning
building and woodworking company in Holden, Massachusetts,
agreed to open an office on-site.
“The opportunity for that level of exposure in what will be
the most-viewed and visited designer showcase in Boston this year
— it was too good to pass up,” says Dan Paquette, Woodmeister’s
director of development and chief sustainability officer.
The leap of faith they all took, namely that the outlay would
have an upside on the back end, is already paying off. Phillip
Jeffries wallpaper donated $20,000 worth of wall coverings across
the seven units. “We’ve already recovered that in quotes from
one of seven units in “Inspired Concepts by DVC” at the W Boston
Residences, this condo by Mark Christofi Interiors is defined by two
art installations: a photograph of fireworks by Eric Roth (above) and
a geometric wall mural (left) by Matt Cote. Looking from living
room to bedroom (facing page), the mural frames the photo.