L.A. at Home

Design, Architecture, Gardens,
Southern California Living

Category: Antiques

The Scout: What's new on Pico Boulevard

Brainworks Home Here in the land of shopping malls and stacked garages, it's easy to get excited about an L.A. district where you can park on the street. And walk.

But that’s just one of many reasons why a day spent in Picfair Village is so enjoyable. Long known for auto body shops and hair salons, the stretch of Pico Boulevard between Fairfax and La Brea avenues now stands out for its eclectic — and growing — mix of stores and restaurants with sidewalk seating.

Pico Modern“When I came here, it was myself, Sky’s Tacos, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles and CJs,” said Pinky Rose Charles, who opened her clothing boutique Pinky Rose nine years ago among the restaurants. “Melrose was so saturated I decided to move south.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Pico Boulevard shopping

The stretch of Pico Boulevard had long been predicted to be the next big shopping district, but the renaissance that Charles and others had hoped for was slow to transpire. Only in the last year have four design stores opened, all within a few blocks of one another. A new development, Pico Hauser Plaza, is slated to open this year.

The mix includes Pilates studios, the kosher and gluten-free Breakaway Bakery, an Eco Dog Wash, Mike's Bike and Skateboard Shop, and Cordially Invited, a stationery and gift store that also has a Southern Girl Desserts cupcake bar and ice cream by the scoop from Fosselman’s, the popular Alhambra parlor.

“There is an element of what is current right now in this neighborhood,” said Erin Adams, who opened Brainworks Home in May. Like many store owners, Adams lives in the neighborhood and augments her art consulting business in the back with her elegant storefront featuring vintage wallpaper, doorknobs, switch plates and other hardware, as well as decorative objects and rehabilitated mid-century furniture such as Marcel Breuer Wassily chairs.

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Sunnylands: Sneak peek inside the Annenberg desert fantasyland

It is the Xanadu of the California desert: Sunnylands, formerly the winter residence of Walter and Leonore Annenberg, he the TV Guide publishing magnate, she the niece of Columbia Pictures chief Harry Cohn, who raised her. On 200 fabled acres now set behind a pink security wall, Walter and Leonore built a 25,000-square-foot house with an art and design collection so singular, no one seems able to estimate its value.

Sunnylands-antique-wallpapePresidents, princes and movie-star friends arrived by helicopter and limousine to golf on the private course, fish in stocked lakes and otherwise luxuriate in the Annenberg fantasyland. Now you can have a glimpse of it too.

On March 1, after a $61.5-million renovation that includes a new visitors center and garden, Sunnylands will open to the public. On view will be the Midcentury architecture by Los Angeles icon A. Quincy Jones, the interior design by the legendary William Haines and his associate, Ted Graber, and, most important, the Sunnylands mystique.

PHOTO GALLERY: Inside Sunnylands, a modern castle in the California desert

Preview tours during Palm Springs Modernism Week quickly sold out. But earlier this month, Geoffrey Cowan, president of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, and curator Anne Rowe led a private walk-through of the storied Rancho Mirage home, one of the Coachella Valley's largest and most historic.

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Preservationists decry alteration, sale of UCLA Japanese garden

Hannah Carter Japanese Garden

As UCLA began removing antiques from its Hannah Carter Japanese Garden on Tuesday, landscape preservationists decried plans to alter and sell the property and asked for help keeping intact what they said was a historically significant design.

The Garden Conservancy, a New York-based preservation group, criticized the removal of centuries-old artifacts from the Bel-Air garden. A five-tiered stone pagoda and a wood-and-gold leaf Buddha were among the objects that were to be removed in preparation for the sale and taken to the Fowler Museum at UCLA and other spots on the Westwood campus.

Describing the garden as “an exceptional Japanese-style garden built in America in the post-World War II period” that is “in critical danger,” the conservancy urged UCLA to preserve the site. It also launched an email campaign urging the public to write the conservancy and the office of UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

“We’re horrified that the garden’s future is at risk,” Garden Conservancy President Antonia Adezio said by phone. “We’d like UCLA to speak with us about finding some other way to proceed. We’d like to broker some sort of agreement or partnership with someone who can take on responsibility for the garden.”

Late last year, the university announced its intention to put the Bellagio Road garden on the market, with the expectation that the sale would generate about $4.2 million for endowments and professorships. The university cited annual operating costs -- $120,000 for maintenance and $19,000 for staffing -- as part of the reason for the sale. Deferred maintenance was pegged at $90,000.

Brad Erickson, executive director of UCLA’s Campus Service Enterprises, which manages the university’s real estate, said a court ruling in 2010 cleared the way for the school to sell the property. The fact that the garden is not used for any academic program at UCLA, he said, also was a factor in the decision.

“The university, like a lot of other state-supported institutions, has been looking for ways to raise money and focus revenues,” Erickson said. “We looked for any university properties not used for academic purposes that had high value and came up with four. We’re also selling properties in El Segundo and Malibu.”

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Big Daddy's Antiques moves to a big new L.A. space

Big Daddy's Antiques L.A.
Packed with old-timey home furnishings and industrial objects, Big Daddy's Antiques has the look that certain chain stores are trying to emulate. Think tables made from salvaged wood and lighting fabricated from metal machine parts. But here the vintage pieces are unusual and authentic -- not reproductions.

The business has been around for two decades, starting out as a warehouse for stone and iron garden goods on an obscure corner south of downtown Los Angeles. Now owner Shane Brown has moved Big Daddy's to a somewhat easier-to-find L.A. location near Culver City, one block west of La Cienega Boulevard just north of Jefferson Boulevard. It has more than 16,000 square feet of furnishings and a 15,000-square-foot garden annex, all imaginatively staged by Brown in a former film sound stage with a soaring bow-truss ceiling, above. 

"The displays at Big Daddy's are always inspiring," said Peter Dunham, interior designer and owner of the Hollywood at Home stores, who was shopping for industrial light shades during my visit. "And the furniture has so much personality, texture, wear-and-tear."

Big Daddy's Antiques lightPrices vary from flea-market reasonable ($40 for a vintage seltzer bottle and $125 for Spanish terra cotta olive jars) to antique-store expensive ($8,600 for the pair of leather club chairs pictured above).

Custom zinc, steel and reclaimed wood tables start at $1,650. Big Daddy's also creates elaborate bird cages, priced upon request. The abundance of decorative accessories from Brown's travels across the world are for sale along with a vast collection of 17th and 18th century vellum books, $150 to $1,500 each.

Big Daddy's also exhibits at antique shows and flea markets; check the website for show schedules.

Brown is something of a savant when it comes to creating light fixtures. In a Richard Serra-meets-Martha Stewart moment, he turned aged baking pans, right, into architectural sconces, $375 each.

He also used them as candle holders. See them on the back wall next to an installation of fan grilles in the photo below, a clever trick that could easily be imitated at home.

Big Daddy's Antiques
The drafting table, left, is $2,200. Keep reading to see more of the store ...

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Los Angeles Modern Auctions previews Dorso collection

Richard Dorso collection
Interior designer David John admits that he felt a little overwhelmed when Los Angeles Modern Auctions director Peter Loughrey asked him to style a vignette using some of the 400-plus pieces in the Richard Dorso collection, which includes works by the likes of Sam Maloof, John McCracken and John Baldessari, to be auctioned Oct. 9.

"It was a dream come true to decorate with Maloof, McCracken and Baldessari," John said. "I wanted to blur the line between living room and gallery space. Narrowing it down was so hard. You could go so many different ways with the collection."

Other highlights in the upcoming auction include works by Richard Tuttle, Roy Lichtenstein, Vasa Velizar Mihich and Gustav Klimt. All lots are on display as part of an exhibit exploring the role of Dorso in the L.A. art scene. For John's vignette, the designer aimed for calm and peaceful, choosing approximately 40 artworks based on color, texture and pattern. Dorso's apartment "vibrated crazy energy," John says, so he wanted the vignette to "vibrate with color and intensity" but still "tone it down a bit and make it modern."

Get-attachment.aspx John also highlighted California artists, given that the exhibit is part of the celebration Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions will sell the Dorso collection with no reserve, meaning all lots including furniture and decorative arts will be sold without minimum bid requirements, spokeswoman Elizabeth Portanova said. For collectors living outside of Los Angeles, the auction house will offer absentee, phone and online bidding. All 418 lots from the collection can be viewed online. "We also offer condition reports on each piece, which must be requested by the client," Portanova said. "Condition reports are great for people who can't see the items in-person."

Los Angeles Modern Auctions is at 16145 Hart St. Van Nuys. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; (323) 904-1950.


Eames living room moved for LACMA exhibit

"California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way"

Pacific Standard Time: The Times guide

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Bethany Nauert

Rummage, a new L.A. boutique from interior designer Kishani Perera, set to open


On June 10, Los Angeles interior designer Kishani Perera will open her first boutique, Rummage, a colorful mix of the high end and low.

Kishani During a sneak peak of Rummage, I spotted vintage Wheaton bottles ($10 to $30 apiece) displayed with 1940s cane chairs ($5,000 for a pair), pillows ($95 to $200 each), an eclectic collection of vintage rugs (beginning at $900) and thrift-store paintings ($300 to $2,500).

Kishani Perera, who counts actresses Molly Sims and Kate Bosworth as clients, says she has spent so much time building her interiors business that she has missed being a collector. “I love finding gems no one else sees,” says the designer, pictured at right.

Rummage, which takes over a space formerly occupied by Specific, also will serve as a showroom for Perera's furniture collection. The line includes handmade zinc tables, concrete planters and tables, a magical iron chandelier tree and a one-of-a-kind vintage mannequin-turned-lamp.

“Levity,” Perera said, “is important.”

7374 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 935-5483.

For a longer look inside, keep reading ...

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The Deal: Vintage Country Laundry quilts half off


Timeless quilts refashioned from vintage textiles are reduced by 50% at Country Laundry's current sale, running through June 6.

Discounted items include traditional prairie quilts, hand-pieced and quilted from vintage scraps, regularly $400 apiece, now $200; silk-and-satin crazy quilts, regularly $625, now $312.50 and Midcentury Modern quilts like the one shown above, regularly $425, now $212.50.

As we have mentioned before, shopping here is a bit unconventional: Peruse the website first to get an idea of what  you want. Then specify the style, size and color you prefer when ordering in the PayPal comment box. Country Laundry will then choose the quilt for you. If that sounds daunting, don't worry.  Owner Suzanne Frye tells us no one has ever returned a quilt. "Generally I send the buyer a range of photos of what we have," Frye said. "I want people to know exactly what they are getting." Shipping is free. (310) 309-1240.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credit: Country Laundry

Bourgeois Bohème opens atelier on Beverly Boulevard


Bourgeois Bohème, the French vintage furniture and design studio known for its high-end Parisian style and loft-y aesthetic, has relocated to Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. 

BB Beverly 4 High Rez "I always liked this part of Beverly Boulevard since it is the heart of the Los Angeles historic district," co-owner Frederic Lazare said about the rapidly evolving area, which also plays host to a new location for British antiquarian Brenda Antin. 

Bourgeois Bohème's 4,500-square-foot space is larger than its previous location on La Brea Avenue. The new store is refined industrial, with a sandblasted and pigment-infused waxed concrete floor.

The setting suits the inventory: a pricey, unusual mix of new designs under the Bourgeois Bohème Atelier label as well as antiques and furnishings crafted with old factory materials, such as the mahogany-topped trestle table ($12,000), above, surrounded by a re-edition of 1928 Nicolle studio stools ($1,300).

A striking range of lighting fixtures includes the hand-blown glass Vendôme chandelier ($6,350), right, which plays with the concept of a hanging bare bulb. It is shown with the goatskin Elysee bench ($3,400), which has leather-wrapped legs.  

The Bourgeois Bohème Atelier furniture collection takes its cues from spare 20th century French designs done up in luxury materials, such as the Valmont armchairs ($2,900 each), below, which are covered in suede. They're shown with a one-of-a-kind coffee table ($6,900) made from a 1920s French industrial wheel.

Bourgeois Bohème, 7266 Beverly Blvd. (323) 936-7507


-- David A. Keeps

Photo credit: Bourgeois Bohème


2011 Milan furniture fair in pictures

New Finnish design showcase

Dutch star Marcel Wanders' new book, "Interiors"

New monograph from British studio Barber Osgerby


Venice store Obsolete takes on Restoration Hardware over ethics of vintage reproductions


Court filings have been flying and design circles are buzzing over the lawsuit filed by the Venice antiques and curiosities shop Obsolete and the countersuit filed by Restoration Hardware. In court documents, Obsolete owner Ray Azoulay, above, laid out a scenario in which Restoration Hardware bought some rare imported lamps from Azoulay's store, manufactured reproductions and began offering them in a spring catalog.

Restoration Hardware responded with a cross-complaint for defamation and trade libel, among other legal claims. "Reproducing antique industrial designs is neither a new practice nor an unethical one," a Restoration Hardware executive said in a letter to Azoulay, also part of the court filings. The executive added: "Acting as a reseller of antique items does not grant you intellectual property rights in the items you sell."

While the legal battle continues, Azoulay is pressing his argument about ethics. The questions The Times'  article  asks:

If an independent merchant stakes his reputation to his ability to find rare pieces of design around the world, and he invests significant time and money to do, is it fair for a larger company to cherry-pick the best discoveries, manufacture lookalike reproductions and undercut the little guy on price? Is that an ethical line breached or merely a savvy business practice?

You can read David A. Keeps' full report on the case. We also have copies of Azoulay's lawsuit and Restoration Hardware countersuit, supplied by representatives for Obsolete. They include photographic comparisons such as the one below, showing lighting sold at Obsolete and reproductions sold at Restoration Hardware. We also have the stipulated agreement, provided by representatives for Restoration Hardware, under which Azoulay said he would alter the Restoration Reproduces site that he created to publicize his case. Apologies in advance -- because of a technical glitch, we don't have the court documents in chronological order; start with Obsolete's claim on Page 40, then jump back to the counter claim and stipulated agreement.

-- Craig Nakano


Top photo: Obsolete owner Ray Azoulay. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Bottom photos: A lamp acquired by Obsolete, left, and a reproduction from Restoration Hardware.

Modern times for Los Angeles Antiques Show


2011 LA Antiques Show exhibitor The Silver Fund of London showing an extremely rare Geometric English sterling silver Art Deco four piece teaset by Charles Boyton c.1930

Following the strictest possible definition, this 1930s sterling silver Art Deco tea set by Charles Boynton won't be an antique for two more decades, but it will be one of the designs on display at the 16th annual Los Angeles Antiques Show, April 14-17 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.

Bringing modern design to the show is a strategic gambit based on the current market, said co-chairman Patrick Dragonette.

"With the Internet, you can shop from bed globally," he said, referring to how easily customers can see a range of designs from a variety of sources. "This in some ways makes the show obsolete. The inclusion of 20th century dealers gives it new life."

More than 60 exhibitors include the Los Angeles store Downtown, which will be showcasing 1930s designs by modern neo-classicist T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, who collaborated with architect James Dolena on the legendary Bel-Air mansion Casa Encantada. Reform Gallery will highlight the work of Midcentury Modern designer Paul McCobb. Todd Merrill Antiques of New York will feature pieces by Italian designer Gio Ponti.

3042011-002Dragonette is exhibiting post-World War II furniture by William Haines, as well as the 2000 bronze and copper Hosta chaise, right, one of an edition of eight by the French sculptor Claude Lalanne.

Lalanne and her late husband, who signed their pieces Les Lalanne, are famed for monumental surrealistic pictures, including a 4-foot cabbage on chicken legs and a life-size rhinoceros with a desk incorporated into its stomach.

For purists, 18th and 19th century antiques will include a teapot from the Silver Fund of London with a $28,000 tag; add a zero and you can purchase a pair of lion head chairs by sculptor Diego Giacometti offered by new Los Angeles Antiques Show vendor Galerie Crial. (If the $280,000 price seems unbelievable, consider that a similar pair of chairs sold for more than $400,000 in pre-recession 2007.)

Many items on display won't be marked, but  prices will be available on request, said co-chairman Robert Willson, owner of Downtown: "The show is for education and enjoyment as well as sales."

-- David A. Keeps

Photos, from top: The Silver Fund of London, Claude Lalanne



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