4121 Main Co-Owner Thommy Conroy
A perfect espresso pairs well with many things. Of course, this is true of treats, like a pillowy scone at breakfast or a piece of dark chocolate for an afternoon pick-me-up. But apparently, it also pairs well with elegant blooms and blossoms, a fact we now know thanks to 4121 Main, the unique hybrid cafe and florist shop in central Pittsburgh. Founded by Kira Hoeg and Thommy Conroy, the aromatic and colorful shop has proven to be one of our favorite discoveries. Kira and Thommy were kind enough to give us a tour of their shop, so today we want to share the story of how they combined their passions into a singularly charming experience.
4121 Main Co-Owner Kira Hoeg
Tell us about 4121 Main! What do you offer and how did you get started?
4121 Main offers bespoke event design services with a focus on floristry. It was born out of Thommy's studio after Kira joined him for a private Easter brunch on site, and a mutual friend suggested it would be the perfect place for an espresso bar. The result is a jewel-box-like space with a coffee bar featuring Heart Roasters espresso on a Kees Van der Westen Spirit machine, wooden banquets for conversation, and weekend bouquets. The space often rotates aesthetically as the seasons change with hand-illustrated and printed wallpaper.
How did coffee come into the picture?
Kira started working in third wave coffee early on just as the trend was beginning to unfold in Pittsburgh. Her background is in cultural anthropology and she has traveled extensively, often with a focus on coffee growing regions of the world. She sees the ritual of drinking coffee as an opportunity for conversation, as in many other cultures, rather than a place to open up a laptop, which has informed all design choices of the coffee program and physical space within 4121 Main.
How did you get into floral design? Do you have a background in flowers?
Thommy has been working with flowers since he was a child in Connecticut. He grew up in the same forests that influenced the early work of taste makers like Martha Stewart. Thommy learned the value of bringing the natural world inside as a means for celebration.
What are some current trends happening in floral design that you’re most excited about lately?
Clean modern floral installations that buck the trend of overly whimsical floral treatments.
Shop kid Finn
What are some flowers that most people might not necessarily be able to name that you like to work with?
Carnations are Thommy's favorite. He is very excited by the ones died blue. I don't think it is necessary to intimidate people with the exotic, when treated artistically, any grocery store blooms can inspire.
Your shop is really beautifully designed, from the beautiful wallpaper to the tin ceiling tiles to the inventive pipe-supported shelves. How did the design come together?
Much of the design is reflected in the historic beauty of the space combined with the aesthetic that already existed as Thommy's studio space. We wanted it to feel both intimate and creative as it is a place we both work and design. We look at it as a 'business card' for the type of design and installations we create.
How did you find out about Schoolhouse lighting and why did you choose the Satellite 6 Chandeliers?
Schoolhouse has a very refined, utilitarian look. It compliments the simple design aesthetics that guide our practice.
Tell us what you love most about your neighborhood or the city of Pittsburgh in general.
Pittsburgh has endless opportunities. Creatives can take a chance and try anything they can dream. Why not sell event concepts and flowers in an espresso bar?
Finally, do you have any simple floral design tips for people who just want a small arrangement for a dinner table or living room mantel?
Whatever you do, don't use floral foam. It is carcinogenic and pollutes our water supply. It is a plastic material that never degrades. Instead, try using branches and greenery foraged from your neighborhood. Make a nest of these and mix in your favorite colored blooms.
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