Porcelanosa’s journey from mom-and-pop design firm to world leader in kitchen and bathware began in 1970 on the Mediterranean coast of Castellon, Spain. Today, the company’s founding family oversees more than 400 showrooms in 70 different countries, exporting the latest in European home design to the rest of the world. Its minimalist, modern designs play on clean lines and muted colors, incorporating elegant accents such natural stone bathtubs or rectified porcelain tile, which mimics the Carrara marble used to build the Pantheon, sculpt Michelangelo's David, and construct the world's first paperweight. Its engineered hardwood flooring draws eyes to smooth planks of white oak in a spectrum of stains, vying for attention against tiled mosaics made of stone, ceramic, or brick.
In addition to turning kitchens and bathrooms into walk-in works of art, Porcelanosa adheres to its founding principles of care for the environment and reducing ecological impact throughout its production chain, using water recycling and gas-burning technologies at its plants to reduce its carbon footprint.
Sick of buying expensive supplies and having to adhere to a class schedule just to create art, Jennifer Kurtz Rubin started the first of her chain of ceramic lounges in 1993. Each Petroglyph Ceramic Lounge is designed as a social and creative space, one that all customers can use to express themselves artistically while catching up with friends. The lounge throws open its doors for both kids and adults to decorate clay bisque pieces, such as mugs and salad bowls, with a bounty of colorful supplies, never worrying about cleanup afterward. Once they’re complete, the art pieces are glazed, fired, and ready for pickup in a few days. And because artists can stay for a whole afternoon or just 30 minutes, the lounge even grants a few moments of creativity to patrons with the busiest schedules. The company also goes beyond casual art making to host parties for kids and adults, in which they can bring in live music, serve food, and train scoops of ice cream to paint their own bowls.
Moda Italia has kept Silicon Valley professionals looking sharp for more than two decades while keeping abreast of modern styles and trends. The business fuses quality craftsmanship with fabrics imported from vendors around the world to create an elegant, tasteful style reminiscent of bygone eras. An expansive inventory of more than 800 suits?including hard-to-find sizes such as 34 extra short and 80 long and portly?ensures snappy, last-minute alterations, and their in-house designer and tailor modifies threads to fit each customer's frame for any event, including weddings, dates, job interviews, and business meetings. The shop also doles out rental tuxedos, but purchases of suits, sport coats, and slacks are rewarded with free alterations for life.
The archival specialists at Willow Glen Art & Frame have occupied the same Lincoln Avenue storefront for more than 35 years, and their dedication to the craft remains evident in the way they eschew standard gallery framing techniques in favor of fully customized picture frames. Knowing that each unhung canvas that enters their store is someone’s precious heirloom or priceless work of art, the framers take care to consult with customers before suggesting wood, metal, or acrylic styles to best complement the object. Every one-of-a-kind frame comes into being with the assistance of computer-guided mat-cutting technology and glass that protects against harsh UV waves, ensuring that still-life paintings of grapes do not dry into raisins over the years.
Challenge Nation pioneered the urban-adventure race with a race season that includes visits to more than 35 cities across the country. Each scavenger hunt is personalized to the hosting city, exploring its many diverse neighborhoods with a series of clues that would test even the most skilled children's-book detective. The teams?composed of at least two people?vie for a $300 first-place prize. The Amazing Race?style competition rewards quick wits and wise planning over physical fitness, so the best way to prepare is by doing logic puzzles while eating Funyuns and lounging in a La-Z-Boy. The top 25 teams qualify, the top five receiving free entry, to compete in the national championship, which rewards winning teams with a $5,000 cash prize.
At Almaden Valley Window Washing, a small, family-run business operating for more than three decades, technicians use only child- and pet-safe cleaning products to oust gunk from homes' interiors and exteriors. Grime fighters free windows of light-blocking filth and relieve gutters of accumulated foliage or broomstick fibers dropped by migrating witches. The handy team can also refurbish houses' insides with home repairs or remodeling. Always attuned to homeowner's satisfaction, the company's landscape architects use meticulous techniques when coiffing hedges, installing gutter protectors, or painting decks with glow-in-the-dark bull's eyes for arriving UFOs.