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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

5 Questions: Pattern + Motion

Eric Botel-Barnard and Diana Barnard are the husband and wife duo who own Pattern and Motion design studio, which opened in the old Sweet Jane space at 1820 E. Passyunk. We sat down with them recently to see what prompted the move south from Center City, what they plan to do with their storefront and why they never leave the neighborhood.

Passyunk Post: What brings you to the hood, and why did you pick a storefront?
Eric Botel-Barnard:
For the last couple years our office was around 15th and Spruce and we really were expanding over the two-year period and needed more space, so we were looking for a while. We also love the idea of improving our day by working closer to where we live [near 11th and Mifflin]. … We really liked the idea of being on the ground floor and being able to interface with people to some degree even though we’re not a store that’s open to the public, but we wanted a presence. Also, the ground floor is easy for access as far as gear storage. We had really looked extensively in South Philly for an office space, and really, South Philly is not filled with second floor office space.

Diana Barnard: Or really any office space.
EBB: So that’s really the main issue, there just weren’t a lot of clean, high-tech, renovated office spaces that would be good for what we’re doing. … We’ve lived down here for about five years and the first three years, I was working out of the house, having clients come to the house, and we have a dog – the dog’s barking
DB: It very quickly became unsustainable.
EBB: So we moved out, went to our Center City office, thought the location would be a good thing for business and it turned out that a lot of the professionals that we work with actually live in this neighborhood.
DB:The greatest thing is just by being here the last few days, taking down the paper, people have just been stopping by. People we know, people we don’t know are just sort of been like, “What’s going on in there?” And we’ve gotten the chance to know the neighborhood a little better, which is also nice. … Although we had some apprehension about having storefront, like security issues, we see a huge advantage in that now, whereas before maybe we were a little tentative.

Eric and Diana. Say hi.

PP: What about working with Sam Sherman at PARC [which owns the building]?
EBB: Meeting Sam was fantastic. He was all for it. To his credit, he has a vision for a vibrant daytime community here. And I think that really struck a chord with us. I’ve traveled pretty extensively for work and I’ve seen main streets in different cities and there’s usually a good mix of storefront offices. You have architects, you have art galleries, and then you have your nighttime stuff. That mix seems like a really good mix, and I think that’s something that’s been missing down here.
DB: For a long time I lived on 9th and Reed and I never traveled south, or even made it over to the Avenue until we moved down here.
EBB: Now, we would rather not leave the neighborhood. We still get out, but on a day to day basis it’s really nice, and that’s part of the allure of working close to home.
DB: That was another problem with the Center City office, finding parking and basic day to day stuff just got really annoying.
EBB: Also, we’re both workaholics, so when we’re busy, it’s not unusual to be here past 10 o’clock at night, so to not have to go far is really nice.

PP: What are you going to be doing with the storefront windows?
Sam immediately thought we should put some video screens in the windows. I think we’re still trying to figure out an interesting way to make a daytime and an evening attractive-looking window. I’m not sure exactly. We’re figuring that out now. We’re definitely going to be dressing the windows.
DB: We’re just concerned that the monitor thing during the day isn’t going to read very well.
EBB: It could just looked washed out. Our style may be a little more subtle. But, we are going to do something really nice, and hopefully have something that looks fresher that we can change out. We’ve been throwing out ideas and we’re tackling that right now.
PP: What kind of ideas?
EBB: People have suggested some, including possibly a gallery space in this one window. We were thinking if that would be feasible given the kind of business that were are. Had an idea for more workspace, possibly even seasonal – well, not exactly seasonal…
PP: Like your Easter display… Flag day?
(laughing): More like a high-end conceptual department store window
DB: And just swap it out
EBB: Yeah, a few times a year. We wanted to get going and see what makes sense rather than do it in a vacuum

Remember when Sweet Jane used to be here?

PP: What about the work you actually do, other than display window design?
We do video production and we do design work – everything from print work to branding to web, so we’re integrating video services and web-video production with the design work so that we’re a full-service design agency now.
DB: We feel like “creative agency” best encompasses what we are. We’re not an ad agency but that’s the best explanation for describing our holistic approach.
PP: What sort of clients? You wanna name drop?
EBB: Albert Einstein Health Care, the Clay Studio, the Rock School for Dance Education, Astral Artists. Good mix right now of arts organizations and corporations. Popular Science Magazine, who else?
DB: That’s a good list. It’s a healthy sampling.

One of those “for the hell of it” pictures
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5 Questions: Sam Sherman, at PARC

Here are 5 Questions, a regular feature in which we check in with a prominent figure in the neighborhood and pick their brain for a handful of answers. To suggest someone you have a few questions for, email us at

Sherman, via
For this installment, we sat down with Sam Sherman, director of the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation, which has brought us such recent hits as the avenue’s facade improvement program and the impending valet parking stands. An experienced real-estate developer, Sherman took the job leading the newly formed PARC in January 2011with the mission to right the ship after its predecessor Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods was looted by its founder and benefactor, former state Sen. Vince Fumo.

But that’s all in the past. Here, we chat about the future, including possible parks, avenue entertainment and the ever-important debate of what to do with the King of Jeans sign.

Passyunk Post: What makes this hood so attractive to people?
Sam Sherman:
I think its proximity to Center City. The fact that this neighborhood is connected via a reliable transit system by bus, plus you have three subway stations in close proximity. It’s affordable, but it’s also so close to Center City that people can work there, and live without a car, and housing prices down here have not exploded like they have in other parts of the city. They’ve gone up, but it’s still affordable on a middle class salary.
PP: What’s the biggest obstacle around these parts?
Schools. And I think this speaks to the entire city but especially down here, long-term. I think you have a lot of young parents with toddlers, so in 10 or 15 years are they still gonna want to be here and send their kid to a public school or parochial or private charter schools? The second biggest obstacle – you have these beautiful parks. You have Columbus and Capitolo, and long-term, PARC is going to be interested in helping the city maintain and improve those public spaces because parks are important for recreation, but also for sitting, having some green space to look at. Improving access to green space, by creating more pocket parks, like we did at the fountain. More amenities like that will help it make it a softer, gentler place to live and make it more attractive for people who want to move here.PP: So, you’ve got your eyes on 12th and Reed?
I’ve had some preliminary discussions with some of the community groups and people who have an interest in that park. The question is, how much is it gonna cost and how long is it gonna take? It would require collaboration with the city, so that’s a longer term thing that we’re working on. But its something we have to understand that has to be done at some point.
PP: What do you think about live entertainment for the avenue?
It would have to be managed properly.The real question is, is it music, is it theater, is it musical, is it a performing arts center? As opposed to a bar that happens to have a stage with an amplifier. And the other thing you have to remember is those types of venues have to be managed very, very carefully and I, personally, would rather see a performing arts venue that you could go in a theater style setting, where you could go see a play, or a band. Kind of like TLA or the Arden. The question is, on the avenue where’s the space.
[We suggested below the avenue on Juniper Street]
Or the bank that’s now vacant at Snyder and Broad. If you have two methadone clinics, a Dunkin Donuts, a McDonald’s and a dollar store, who are they gonna complain to? Because that is the gateway to the avenue, and if you’re going to do something like that, that’s the place to do it. Because you’re not bumping right up against residential, you’re right at a transit stop. There’s a parking garage right across the street. And it’s an anchor because then it has the potential to change the dynamic of that block.PP: Tough question. Where do you come down on the King of Jeans sign? Should it be saved?
I think it should be saved. I understand that as a developer, keeping that sign on the building is probably impractical, but there might be a place for it where you could – I don’t know where you would put it on the avenue. There’s some people that want to burn it in effigy. They want to chop it into pieces and burn it. But you know, I think it’s become an iconic thing. Whether you love or hate it, at least everyone has an opinion. That says something about that, that there’s passion on both sides.This was but a snippet of our conversation, so are there any other questions you have for Sherman you want to know? Let us know in the comments and we just might have the answer.

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