In 2008, The New York Times published an article titled “Oklahoma City Is Booming With Oil and a New Exuberance.” In that travel story, writer Finn-Olaf Jones admitted that it took about a day to get Rodgers and Hammerstein’s iconic 1943 Broadway anthem “Oklahoma” out of his head.
“This revitalized metropolis does seem to have a constant wind that comes sweepin’ down the plain,” he wrote. “But the windfalls from its booming economy have brought enough new grand urban projects, gleaming museums and sophistication so that one suspects the only folks tempted to yell ‘Ayipioeeay’ are visitors.”
Just last year, Condé Nast Traveler similarly chipped away at some of those same stereotypes that follow the state and its evolving capital.
“Oklahoma is a state of preconceived notions,” Matt Kerouac wrote in a story about the capital’s burgeoning LGBTQ+ scene. “Ask anyone about the Sooner State and they’ll likely mention chicken-fried clichés and tornadoes — and staunch conservatism. … Oklahoma City, also known as OKC, is growing fast, with shifting demographics to match.”
Further eschewing preconceived notions, writer and strategist Christine Eddington last year described the OKC’s built environment as “an architectural smorgasbord” with notable examples of Art Deco, Midcentury Modern, Spanish Revival, Victorian and even Space Age-inspired “Googie” architecture.
That ungovernable approach to all flavors of architecture — not to mention a design renaissance fueled by explosive growth — made Oklahoma City a natural fit for Alexander Marchant. Opened in the fall of 2022, our Oklahoma City showroom is situated in the Classen Design Center alongside likeminded neighbors including Barton + Monroe, Circa Lighting, Farrow & Ball, and Porcelanosa.
As a means to introduce the broader design community to our newest showroom and the team bringing it to life, we quizzed Oklahoma City Showroom Manager Garvin Boyd, Lead Project Manager Allie Griffith and Warehouse & Operations Manager Daniel Gill about all things OKC — from architecture and design trends to beloved landmarks and cultural destinations.
How would you paint a picture of OKC to someone who’s never been there? What’s the vibe and what makes it different from other cities?
It’s a beautiful city full of friendly people. OKC has some of the nicest and most genuine people you’ll ever meet. Expect to be smiled at and spoken to. — Garvin Boyd
Oklahoma City is awesome. The vibe is comfortable and relaxed, the atmosphere is unexpected and diverse, and the people are gems. You don’t have to look far to find a new friend in Oklahoma City. In one word, I’d say we are pretty inviting folks. — Allie Griffith
It’s a large, spread-out city but not too compact. I feel like it’s a major city with a small-town vibe. — Daniel Gill
Is there a dominant or pervasive look or style to OKC architecture?
OKC has a smorgasbord of architectural styles. Commercial and residential properties span from Victorian to contemporary. OKC has a lot of historical areas and you see those areas being preserved and restored but at the same time a variety of looks and styles. — GB
Different areas have different aesthetics. That’s the great thing about our city: You can find a bit of everything. — DG
What about interiors: are there trends that feel like constants within the OKC design scene?
I see the historical influence of OKC and the proud heritage as a constant in our design themes. Mixed in with the Art Deco and the modern trends makes for a great look. — GB
In the past few years I have seen satin brass and matte black hardware rise in popularity. — DG
What have some of your recent design projects been?
One of my most memorable projects was a recent new construction on a residential home in a prominent neighborhood in OKC. I worked directly with the homeowner, whose design and artistic background allowed me to be very creative and out-of-the-box. From plain brass and bronze fixtures to crystal pulls, skull door knobs, and a pink rolling ladder and stair rail. We had custom wall sconces, push plates and door hardware made by a variety of manufactures. I would get calls over the weekend from the homeowner saying, “I know this is not something you provide but can you help me find a source for this?” It’s a project that I will never forget and always cherish. — GB
There are so many fun custom homes that I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of. A couple of my favorite projects from recent years are the Governor’s Mansion remodel and the new News 9 building downtown. — DG
In your experience, has the city changed much over time? If so, how?
Being born and raised in OKC, moving away for 25 years and coming back, I can truly say that OKC has changed a lot over time. I was so impressed when I was looking at moving back to OKC 12 years ago and visiting the Bricktown area and seeing the changes in downtown. As a teen we were not allowed to go anywhere near Bricktown, and here I was strolling by a water canal, eating in old warehouses that had been repurposed into nice restaurants, and taking a boat ride down on the river. I saw a city that had transformed into a friendly place full of adventure. — GB
What are a few of your favorite local landmarks and destinations?
The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Oklahoma City Zoo, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Science Museum Oklahoma, Paseo Art District, and the Heritage Hills and Nichols Hills neighborhoods. — GB
Food. It will always be food for me. Must tries in OKC: Johnnie’s Charcoal Broiler, ND Foods and Vintage Shop, La Baguette Bistro, Classen Cafe at the Classen Design Center. — AG
What are some of your go-to recommendations for first-time visitors to OKC?
Neighborhoods: Heritage Hills, Nichols Hills, Gaillardia, Uptown, and the Paseo Arts District. Restaurants: Metro Wine Bar & Bistro, The Hutch on Avondale, Cheever’s Cafe, and Paseo Grill. — GB
I am a big fan of the way we have districted our city in more recent years. Each district has somewhat of a “vibe” on its own. The Wheeler District has a Ferris wheel, the Plaza District has the “Plaza Walls” — definitely one to check out for first timers! My daughters and I have really started enjoying Scissortail Park — they always have something family-friendly going on down there. — AG
What’s the experience been like in the Classen Design Center so far?
I love hearing clients come in and say, “I don’t have to go to Dallas anymore.” The experience has been very positive and encouraging. Being associated with other leading companies in our industry and located in an up-and-coming design area of OKC is very exciting. I’m excited that the design community of OKC has an area to come to for leading products and industry knowledge. — GB
Really, really exciting! This concept has been buzzed around the industry for years and we are so thrilled to finally see it come to fruition. I am really looking forward to seeing our community embrace the new, as we introduce these incredible products from all over the world. — AG
It has been wonderful. The design center is a great addition to the design community here. We are in a unique position to serve the industry in a way that has not been seen in OKC yet. We’re bringing in products that have been favorites of designers and builders for years, as well as a lot of never-before-seen products in our state. — DG