In a way, Graham is equal parts Hollywood and Washington. She’s a libertarian with a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a law degree from Georgetown. Until 2003, she worked for Sonnenschein (now SNR Denton), a law firm on K Street, before starting her own design company. These days, though, she’s focusing on the fun stuff, like expanding the deck on the roof of her new showroom or collecting chic pieces, such as the white Shine by S.H.O. chest that captures the eye of everyone who enters the store.
“D.C. has seen a huge revival,” she said a few days before the showroom’s opening this summer. “And not just the design scene, but music, food and style. It’s like the city’s loosening up. I had to jump in.”
Graham, 40 and divorced, grew up in rural Oklahoma. She first fell in love with the District while interning at the Cato Institute during her junior year at the University of Tulsa. She returned to Georgetown for her law degree in 1995 and has lived here ever since, settling in Logan Circle with her papillons, Camus and Milton Friedman.
When she decided to open a hybrid design boutique and art gallery, New York crossed her mind. But Washington wasn’t hit as hard by the recession, she said, and had more room to grow. “D.C. is blossoming into its own artistic animal,” she said.
We chatted with her about the new store and why she loves living in Washington. Here is an edited excerpt.
Showroom 1412: It’s a store, gallery and an extension of my design firm, all in one. The gallery is curated by my friend Lauren Gentile [of Contemporary Wing], and many of the pieces were chosen by Mike Johnson [of the now defunct Sixteen Fifty Nine].
My goal is that the showroom be full of artsy, vintage and uncommon finds that can be customized to fit what you’re looking for. It’s not a pop-up shop, but it’s a similar concept of sharing space and honoring multiple ideas.
How to use it: Visit and see what inspires you. I’d never want my showroom to be something that a whole house was designed from. Sure, it has that eclectic mix, but it’s still not enough. It would feel contrived. Nobody should ever — even if they can afford to — furnish a house with art in one shot. You want to cultivate collections as you go.