'Stuff of life"

Apartment Zero
406 7th St. NW
(202) 628-4067

Set among various art galleries and the Shakespeare Theatre, Apartment Zero is a home furnishings and accessories store that could be easily mistaken for an art gallery itself.

Co-owned by Christopher Ralston and Douglas Burton, Apartment Zero sends you into a colorful, gleaming contemporary world with a pop of nostalgia for the ’60s. It feels like an upscale cross between an Andy Warhol piece and something Jane Jetson would adore. Geometric shapes and retro designs with a modern twist fill the store’s shelves and cover the floor of the 2700-square-foot store.

The idea for Apartment Zero started in 1999, when Ralston and Burton realized that there were no options for people in D.C. to shop for contemporary designs for their home.

Painted on a vibrant red wall in the corner of Apartment Zero is a quote by German architect Walter Gropius: “Design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life …”

It is clear that the the eager-to-help staff of Apartment Zero are avid believers of the Gropius’s sentiment. Not only do they help customers in the store choose the best pieces for their home, they also send their designers to customers’ homes. Hosting events and wedding registries are other services that the store participates in.

“I love the events and I love my wedding registry clients,” said Grace Gottlieb, who works primarily with events and wedding clients as well as with helping customers with decisions in the store about what to get for their homes.

Gottlieb said the best part about the wedding registry clients is that they are usually young and really want to choose beautiful, well-designed items for their new homes and new lives.

Whether these newlyweds will be able to afford these beautiful designs is a separate question, however. With pepper mills for $160 and an elephant sculpture for $2,140, Apartment Zero is not the place to go if you are looking for discounted prices. The pieces are gorgeous and full of color; they are artwork, and are priced accordingly.

A design event at Apartment Zero is quite the affair, the upcoming one being with the Spanish Embassy. It is a Spanish tabletop exhibition that will have a kickoff bash and then will be on exhibit until May. Apartment Zero has hosted workshops, exhibitions and other events, including nonprofit affairs, with sponsors such as the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the embassies of Sweden, Canada and Finland.