DESIGN: Gyro's New Philly Digs

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I'd Walk a Mile for my Wallpaper
I'd Walk a Mile for my Wallpaper
Gyro Worldwide has moved to a new Philadelphia headquarters at 13th and Sansom, which boasts some really smokin' interior design — particularly the lobby's custom wallpaper, designed by local studio Print Liberation (PrintLiberation.com). The wallpaper features "portraits of all the famous people in history who have profited by growing tobacco," explains Gyro founder/CEO Steven Grasse. The list includes Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry, General William Tecumseh Sherman and Al Gore, whose "family's fortune was made by growing tobacco — how's that for an inconvenient truth!" quips Grasse, a nonsmoker. "Tobacco isn't just a product category that we work on; it symbolizes liberty and freedom for us," he adds. Moreover, he notes, "Tobacco is a very important part of our country's history. America was founded on tobacco; the American Revolution was funded by tobacco."

The interior work was handled by Grasse's wife, interior designer Sonia Kurtz-Grasse, whose brief, says Grasse, "was to capture Gyro's eclectic mix of modern creativity and neo-traditionalism," intended to reflect what he calls Gyro's "weird dual personality," which brings a modern approach to brands often steeped in history — brands like Camel cigarettes. Note in the PDF the way-cool Shepard Fairey portraits of Noam Chomsky and Joe Strummer, as well as a more traditional pair of paintings, the latter picked up at a flea market for $10 each. The new space also makes room for the Gyro house brand, Sailor Jerry, which sells rum, clothing and housewares in what Grasse calls a "retail lab" on the first floor. The store was designed by Philly-based artist/photographer Adam Wallacavage with a "vintage South Seas feel," says Grasse, to reflect the WWII-era tattoo pioneer Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins' U.S. Navy vibe, replete with a pair of Wallacavage's custom octopus chandeliers. (Click here for more on that.)

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