Gay RVA: Micheal Sparks

Micheal Sparks Design opened in Manchester last year bringing a metropolitan feel to the district appropriately inspired from its namesake’s world travels.

From New York, Micheal Sparks has also spent time in California, London, Madrid, and India.  While in California, he developed an appreciation for mid-century modern furnishings, which he makes available in the shop.

Focusing on small to midsize businesses, his boutique offers design services with emphasis on four core areas of food, fashion, interiors and lifestyle – all passions for Sparks.  In addition, he’s one of the forces behind Saturday’s weekly Antiques in Manchester.

GAYRVA.COM: What brought you to Richmond?

Sparks: My partner Richard is a doctor at MCV.  He does cancer research and we moved here from New York three years ago.

Why did you decide on Manchester to setup shop?

It reminded me of SoHo in the 1970s before it was developed.  Artists were just starting to find it.

I had been working out of my home, but we’d have a big project at the house and Richard would be ready to kick me out!  Andrea Levine, my real estate agent (one of the hippest chicks in Richmond he adds – she co-created the Modern Richmond Tours) she showed us this and we loved it.

Tell me about renovating the space.

Before we took it, it was a doggy day care.  Before that, it was storage for the present landlords.  They held a lot of the architectural items here…We tried to use as many of the existing beams in the space for the office and not really touching any of the walls – I find the wear in the walls and the floor very beautiful…Mixing new and old pieces are a great combination.  It makes it all very comfortable.

How does Richmond compare to larger cities?  What’s been your perception?

It’s a different beast.  A lot of people move from somewhere else and are constant complainers.  I make my party anywhere I go.  I find beauty anywhere I go.  Whether that’s in a big city or a small town.

I’m two hours door-to-door to my clients in New York City by flight.  In New York, I was sick of the high cost for nothing.  We were not big theater goers, but we would travel to see sports.  We can go somewhere else and the standard of living is so much higher.

Even when we kept a car in Manhattan – by the time you get to the Hamptons you’re so stressed out by the traffic, you almost feel like you’re in prison.

How do you spend your down time?

We are Survivor addicted.  We have a group of friends that come over and watchSurvivor and we cook a big dinner.  Our friends from New York have really taken our place here in Richmond and turned it into their weekend getaway…They come down just to relax.  It’s great.

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