South Coast Collection, OC Mart Mix: Cool shopping in Costa Mesa
Costa Mesa's shopping scene is so dominated by South Coast Plaza, it would be easy for non-O.C.ers to miss the South Coast Collection and its year-old addition, the OC Mart Mix, filled with stores specializing in home design, fashion and food.
Scott Burnham and Bryon Ward bought SoCo, as it's known, three years ago and have brought an influx of new stores to the design center for the last 18 months.
“We wanted to build a center that had some synergy integrating lifestyle and communal experience,” Burnham said. “It's like Brentwood Country Mart meets the [San Francisco] Ferry Building meets the Pacific Design Center meets the Grove.”
Fixtures Living, which opened six months ago, stands out for its try-before-you-buy concept. Most things are operational for testing: the sinks and tubs, the stoves and stone “hearth” ovens, the 15 shower heads in the bath Sanctuary. (Lather up and test them in private, with a reservation.) On the patio, working beer taps are placed strategically under the big screens.
“We want to create experiences that go beyond retail,” Fixtures Living Chief Executive Jeffery Sears said.
SoCo also has the fabric showrooms Scalamandre and Deco Home, the patio furniture and accessories boutique Inside Out 365 (home of the pillows pictured below left), Stark Carpet and the Pal + Smith showroom and design studio. Last week, antiques dealer Lee Stanton opened Stash, a smaller version of his store on La Cienega Boulevard in L.A. And for variety: the Vintage Wood Floor Co., eco-friendly parenting boutique Granola Babies and the rock-climbing shop Gear Co-Op.
SoCo wraps around the OC Mart Mix, a vibrant marketplace of more than 30 vendors selling food, fashion and home decor in individual stalls. The mix includes the sustainable-seating company Nomadic Industries, a bike shop and a fashion camp for kids. Coming: the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, featuring the animator's artwork.
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Deco Home's textiles cost $29.95 to $150 per yard. A nice touch: Every bolt of fabric in the wide selection has a free fabric swatch that you can take home. Custom upholstery, curtains and pillows can be ordered too.
Customers wait for coffee drinks from Portola Coffee Lab in the OC Mart Mix.
The Cheese Shop in the OC Mart Mix has artisan cheeses and charcuterie.
Vintage letterpress keys ($8 apiece) are sold along with antiques and reclaimed wood tables at Heirlooms & Hardware in the OC Mart Mix.
Samples of repurposed wood from barns, farmhouses, wine barrels and more fill the showroom of the Vintage Wood Floor Co.
Alpaca fur pillows by Rosemary Hallgarten ($595 each) are among the contemporary accessories and furniture in Melissa and Marc Palazzo's Pal + Smith showroom and design studio. Visitors can shop for wallpaper, antiques and pieces from the Pal + Smith line, and they can pay for design consultation ($200 an hour) from the in-house studio.
Customers at the Fixtures Living store have fun testing more than a dozen ceiling- and wall-mounted shower heads from brands such as Gessi, Aquabrass and Jaclo. The testing area is called the Sanctuary, and it also has a sauna and tub that can be tried out by appointment.
Fixtures Living hosts free cooking demonstrations from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Mondays are "dog days," meaning you can bring your pet along for a baked treat or a peek at the Hydro Systems Petopia Pet Spa.
Inside Out 365 has fun imports for indoors and out, including the handmade Moroccan tile table, pictured in the background. The store also sells ironwood tables from South America and pillows made from vintage sweaters by Los Angeles artist Oceguera.
Handwoven Peruvian rugs stand out among the colorful throws, vintage quilts, suzanis and Trina Turk pillows at Inside Out 365. The store sells its own line of furnishings including all-weather wicker dining chairs ($320 each) and an Indonesian teak table ($1,350). Owner Camille Bastedo said she tries to give customers wholesale prices.
A selection of fabrics hang in the Scalamandre showroom at the South Coast Collection.
Shoppers can sample California artisan olive oils and vinegars at We Olive, part of the OC Mart Mix. The bar also has wine, tapas and live music from 6 to 9 p.m. on Fridays.
-- Lisa Boone
Photos: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times