Annual South by Southwest roundups are a bear to write. On the one hand, who doesn't like giving design-loving folks who visit Austin a compact list of places to check out if they're looking for a quick taste of Austin design? On the other hand, it's impossible to choose only a handful. But you'll find an attempt after the jump. If you're a design-lover in Austin for the festival, consider a peek at these old and new favorite stores, bars, restaurants and more — all places to soak up some great design in Austin while giving your eardrums a rest.
These twelve spots to visit (when you're not absorbing delicious tunes at a hot show, watching a hip short film or hearing about the latest app) sure aren't the only good-looking places in Austin. Designers here have been designing hit after stylish hit in recent years; this is just a quick mix of low and high-end spaces to poke your head into if you want.
And the best part? This list is good year-round!
And though these spots (as well as most of Austin's entire urban core) will probably be packed with people during SXSW, you may still find inspiration in these spaces. (And for those determined to hang in the least-crowded places as possible this SXSW —and this is for the locals as well — check out the app made by GSD&M: Avoid Humans.)
1. Nannie Inez: This store offers tantalizing design accessories for the home plus is a bit out of the way for SXSW so might not be quite overrun with folks.
2. Sway Thai: A combination of slick interiors, amazing food and an awesome graphic brand identity.
3. Hillside Farmacy: A couple of years old but still as charming as ever, with cute design details and yummy eats.
4. Arro: Melds sophistication with weird/cool materials like bike tire upholstery and old mail bags on the ceiling.
5. Quickie Pickie: A colorful use of reclaimed wood plus a great place to grab a snack to refuel during SXSW.
6. Qui: An awesome piece of modern architecture inside and out, located on a corner in East Austin. Rumored to have great food (kidding, chef Paul Qui's that guy who won Top Chef).
7. Mockingbird Domestics: Find a modern and rustic mix of hand-crafted and locally designed items for the home.
8. JM Drygoods: For anyone wanting to take home the look of Marfa, this clothes and home accessories store will satisfy.
9. Urbanspace Interiors: A heady mix of top international, contemporary designs and locally made accessories in a huge and bright showroom in the heart of downtown Austin.
10. Josephine house: Simple and subtle interiors complement a great place to lunch just outside of downtown.
11. The Brew & Brew: Beer and coffee in one place, plus a stripped down aesthetic with industrial details and hand-made, local furnishings and signage.
12. Hotel San Jose: An Austin classic. Meander around the landscaping, sip a drink by the pool or catch the always-good South by San Jose music showcase.
So what's left off this list that's a must-see design spot in Austin in your opinion? If you dare share, feel free to post your secret, great-design-low-people SXSW places in the comments below!
(Image credits: Adrienne Breaux)