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“My gay-dar is going to explode,” quipped my friend Harry Ross, surveying the effervescent room. A slight understatement.

We were sitting on a pillow-laden couch in the new Jonathan Adler home-furnishings store at University Village as trays of Champagne and appetizers swirled about, and some of the most accomplished gay men around sized each other up.

There was Adler and his husband, legendary Barney’s New York window dresser Simon Doonan. They had flown in for several events, the store opening an obvious highlight.

Adler loves Seattle, and appreciates “the gutsiness of Northwest modernism,” as well as its Japanese influence.

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“The terrain has informed that sense of design,” he said. “Plus, it’s not so ‘Frasier.’ It’s a young, great city.”

The event was a fundraiser for the It Gets Better Foundation started by local power couple Dan Savage and Terry Miller, who were meeting Adler and Doonan for the first time. Miller arrived looking a little like The Music Man in a brightly striped suit by Mr. Turk, for whom he models bathing suits (Hide the kids and look it up).

“They understand that (It Gets Better) is defiant,” Savage said of Simon and Doonan.

Said Miller: “With the right to marry here, the end of DOMA and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ people visibly see it’s getting better.”

Adler added, “I really think Dan and Terry are doing the Lord’s work. It would have meant a lot to me to have had it when I was growing up. And I think it’s a perfect and smart use of the Internet.”

Doonan had his own star turn the night before at the downtown Barney’s, where he and fashion director Tomoko Ogura hosted an event that benefited Parkinson’s Project. (“She’s the oracle,” Doonan said of Ogura. “I sit behind my lacquered fan.”)

The two of them got me to try on sunglasses, which was great fun, until I looked at the $400 tag. (I’ll just put these baaaack …)

“Seattle’s always been an intensely creative town,” Doonan mused. “It’s one of those places that makes its own rules. Jimi Hendrix. Grunge. Amazon. Starbucks. It’s the place where creative, unconventional people go.”

Walking over from his hotel, Doonan took in the city’s “cavalcade of individual style.”

“People looking out of date? It just doesn’t happen here anymore.”

A valuable name

Let’s just call Tom Kundig the $2.9 million man.

His “Studio House,” billed as a “breakthrough project” for the award-winning architect, just hit the market at $4.95 million.

Located in Seattle’s Broadview neighborhood, it’s a beauty of a space, to be sure. All metal and wood, high ceilings and clean lines. Perfect, as long as your kids can keep their heads away from the steel and sharp corners.

But let’s get to the numbers: The three-bedroom, 7,100 square-foot place was last sold for $550,000 in 1994, and underwent a Kundig-designed $612,000 renovation that was completed in 1998.

So, it follows that the King County Department of Assessments put the total value of the property at $2 million.

Could Kundig’s name be worth another $2.9 million?

“That’s for a buyer to determine,” said Matt Anderson, spokesman for Olson Kundig Architects.

Agreed. As for the most anyone’s paid for a Kundig creation?

“We don’t keep track,” Anderson said. “We’re pretty much focused on giving our customers what they want.”


Photo op of a lifetime

Legendary Seattle photographer Charles Peterson may have gotten the quintessential Seattle shot of the year when he captured Mudhoney performing on top of the Space Needle last week, as part of Sub Pop Records’ 25th-anniversary blowout.

But he also got a serious case of the willies.

Peterson’s stepfather owns a small Cessna in the San Juan Islands, “So I’m flying all the time,” he told me.

Just never in a helicopter. With the door off. And with Fantagraphics Books curator Larry Reid riding shotgun.

“I’m most definitely
not an aerial photographer,” Peterson said. “It was bumpy, and in 20 years of photographing it was the most difficult shoot I’ve ever done.”

The chopper circled the Needle 10 times while Mudhoney played a 20-minute set. A challenge for everyone, to be sure, but especially Peterson.

“If I was too close to the Space Needle they could be playing on top of any tall building,” Peterson said, “and if I pulled back too far they just registered as small black dots. So it was really a compositional puzzle to work out while being whipped by the winds of Elliott Bay and watching the clock tick down.

“I think I nailed it, though,” Peterson cracked. “I do most times.”

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or

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