Steampunk Kitchens & More at the Alternative Living Expo

Geek life is, by definition, alternative. And while we all can appreciate decorating our office cubes or living rooms with Marvel/DC figurines, Demotivational posters or a favorite framed XKCD comic, there comes an time in your life where you may be looking for something more…refined. Something sleek and copper-toned, perhaps. Or, rather than decorating the walls with finery, how about consuming it, in the form of scrumptious cakes, candies and sugar-spun delights? Or you may be seeking out that Special Something for that Special Day or for a Certain Someone. And what you’re looking for can’t be found at your local mall.

For those able to travel to Philadelphia, there’s one other place to go: the Alternative Living Expo. Running on March 5th & 6th, the Expo is run by the same folks behind Wicked Faire, Dracula’s Ball, and ModVic and SteamPuffin. So, the Expo actually combines three separate shows into one: the ModVic’s Back Home to the Future Show, the Distinctive Pleasures Gala, and the Alternative Bridal Expo. After the jump, here’s your chance to get an inside scoop about the Back to the Future Home Show from ModVic President Bruce Rosenbaum, along with a list of things you can experience while attending this triptych of domestic & culinary treasures.

Coming to Philadelphia is a big step for ModVic, Bruce told me when I spoke with him over the phone last week. He explained what he hoped to find at the Expo: “With a lot of the people in the steampunk community, you know, it tends to skew to the younger side and their desires are more aspirational… So, we’ve been working on bridging across to reach out to the homeowner who doesn’t even know the name of this stuff; people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who have this discretionary income that want to go and do this.”

Alternative Living Expo

This Expo won’t be the first show that Bruce and his wife Melanie have attended for ModVic. Last fall, the Back Home to the Future Show made its debut at the Piers Vintage & Antique Show in New York City to great success. The show managers were looking to bring in a younger crowd, and figured that steampunk would do the trick. “At the Pier show, we found that we were the first stop. We got so much traffic, kind of a love fest,” Bruce commented. “Afterwards, [the show manager] said she hadn’t seen traffic like that for four or five years.”

Not to mention all of the press this up-and-coming house design business had gotten from the New York Times and antique trade journals. Bruce realized, however, that buzz did not always equal sales. “So I think what was happening there was that we were so new, we didn’t have anything smaller for people to take with them, so it was a hard sell. Again, we got introduction, exposure, almost like an exhibition, rather than selling. We thought it was a success,” he added, “but it was a learning experience.”

As a result of the Piers show, however, the Back Home to the Future show got an encore presentation in January at Boston Antiques and Designs Show, which also generated very good exposure. For this Expo, though, he is working on making the connections that he knows his exhibitors need to be successful in an industry still grappling with their aesthetic style.

For the Expo, Bruce admits to shying away from the word “steampunk” to describe his home show, for fear that newcomers to the style would be turned off by the word. At the same time, though, the home design world is quickly embracing this anachronistic style.

Recently, for example, he watched a film clip a friend sent of an inteview with Newell Turner, chief editor at House Beautiful magazine. When asked by a reporter what was the next big design trend and he said: “steampunk.”

To help get his approximately 25 exhibitors in the Show more familiar with the movers and shakers of the home design industry, the Back Home to the Future Show will be hosting a special preview night for industry professionals, co-sponsored by the American Society of Interior Designers. Also, as part of the show, the vintage preservation & repair group Capitol Salvage is building a 20 by 20 retrofuture kitchen that’s similar to the Bruce’s own ModVic kitchen in Massachusetts. He’s quite excited about this venture: “There’ll be the island, the counters, the desk nook, all we got from Capitol Salvage, the pieces we put together and repurposed. Alliances, refrigerator, stove faucets knobs, lighting… so it’ll have a good idea what a steampunk kitchen would be like.”

Steampunk kitchen

But the Back Home to the Future Show is just one-third of the exciting things you can explore at the Expo. For the Expo, presale ticket holders will be treated to an exclusive Cake and Mead party, sponsored by Why Not Cake and Magpie Mead, and attendees can have these lovely things to look forward to:

So whatever yours tastes may be, it looks like Philly will be the place to be to satisfy them.

For more information, visit the Alternative Living Expo website.

Want to go to the Expo for free? is raffling off five pairs of complimentary passes. Comment on this post to enter.

Ay-leen the Peacemaker runs the multicultural steampunk blog Beyond Victoriana. She and her fiancée are both looking forward to sampling the various delights at the Expo.


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