It may be unwise to meddle with perfection, but the Italian furniture company Cassina is taking its chances, releasing a clever outdoor version of the LC1 sling chair, the iconic 1928 design by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand. The tubular frame, originally produced in steel and later replaced with chrome, has been returned to stainless steel with silver welds for all-weather performance. The leather seat and armrests have been swapped out for waterproof, fade-resistant Sunbrella fabric, proving how “innovation in materials can lift a classic to new heights while still maintaining its original design concept,” said Kari Woldum, vice president at Design Within Reach, which is selling the outdoor LC1. The designer looks still come with a designer price: $2,345.
Design, Architecture, Gardens,
Southern California Living
Space-saving furniture has been a trend for years, but most offerings have been aimed at budget-minded apartment dwellers and loft lovers. North Carolina designer Linda Lane's novel new series of sleeper sofas for Jessica Charles, however, was created with a different niche in mind.
"I have a keen interest in products that not only look good but serve a dual purpose," Lane said. "In addition to the silhouette, I was also thinking of the multipurpose needs of people who are downsizing -- a growth category I firmly believe will take hold in the ensuing years.”
The Theodore settee, pictured above, and the Theodore sofa, shown below, premiered last month at the High Point fall market in North Carolina. (A Theodore sectional is pictured at the bottom of the post.) Inspired by the clean, midcentury designs of Edward Wormley, the pieces are slightly smaller than traditional sofas and come in six stain-resistant fabrics from Crypton Home. The fabrics are not only soft but also "amazing" when it comes to cleaning, Lane said. "A magic marker or crayon can be removed easily with simple directions.”
The settee, a twin sleeper, is 57.5 inches wide and costs $3,720. The sofa, which has a queen pullout mattress, is 81.75 inches wide and costs $4,575. The three-piece L-sectional is 89 inches wide, comes with a twin mattress and costs $8,670.
Lee Stanton has seen many changes on La Cienega since he opened his European antique store on the street six years ago. At that point, the ficus-lined blocks between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard were home to entertainment industry restaurants such as Koi and just a few standout showrooms such as Dragonette, Downtown, Blackman Cruz, Pat McGann and Therien & Co. Mostly, however, the street was associated with cracked sidewalks, heavy traffic and few crosswalks.
In the last two years, however, two dozen or so design stores have opened there, the majority selling high-caliber furniture and accessories — antique, vintage and contemporary pieces and often designs by the store's owners. Wander into Harbinger (pictured above), Kristen Buckingham (at right), Hollywood at Home and other new or newly expanded shops in the district, and you'll find variations on a strikingly similar theme: a classic, well-heeled, traditional aesthetic with a dash of boho chic. Looking for a George Nelson Bubble lamp? You probably won’t find it here in the land of $150-a-yard ikat fabrics, vintage tufted chaises and various Pairs of Things. (One good measure of this strip is the fact that whether you're looking at 19th-century neoclassic chandeliers or Bergeres chairs, items on La Cienega often adhere to that decorator's holy grail, the matching set.)
The similarity of shops is not entirely accidental. Three years ago, Stanton and Therien & Co. manager Philip Stites worked with other stores to found the La Cienega Design Quarter, hence the 300 orange LCDQ banners that hang along the sides of the street from Santa Monica Boulevard to Beverly Boulevard.
"We're all really working to encourage quality businesses to the street," Stanton said. "The more we do that, the more we create this environment where clients can park once and walk down the street and experience all of these shops and restaurants and even the number of beautiful courtyards."
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."
Prices 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.
West Elm’s new Los Angeles store, opening Thursday on Beverly Boulevard, feels different from the modern home furnishings company's other retail locations. “This store is much more rich and layered,” creative director Vanessa Holden said during a preview Wednesday. “We want each store to reflect its community. A visit to the Dallas store will be completely different than this store.”
So what does the airy, two-story showroom -- the building formerly occupied by Blueprint -- say about Los Angeles?
“This is a store for playful and creative people who are looking to inject a point of view into their homes,” Holden said.
"Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design" speaks to West Elm style, added Abigail Jacobs, director of public relations.
Designed by Thomas O’Brien, the L.A. West Elm store incorporates a living green wall and a loft space devoted to seasonal displays. The vignettes are an eclectic mix of furniture, accessories and gifts for the holidays.
Quirky accessories and tabletop pieces lend a sense of fun: adorable ceramic owl butter dishes and measuring cups, throws and pillows made from vintage saris, bold hand-blocked textiles (napkins, place mats and quilts), plush Mongolian faux fur pillows and a bright orange parsons desk for kids. At the Monogram Shop, an area of the store where personalized linens, glassware and more can be ordered, nontraditional sayings are encouraged. (One cutting board sported the label "Gluten free.") The store also has a great selection of lamps ranging from $49 to $199.
At the design lab upstairs, customers can bring in measurements and tear sheets and receive free planning advice from West Elm design staff. “You can take some time and think about what you want to do,” Holden said. “It’s a dedicated space that allows for collaborations.” Keep reading for a deeper peek inside the new store ...
Home as showroom? That's the concept behind Villa Purcell, designer Alexander Purcell Rodrigues' new Hollywood “show villa.” In their modernized 1920s Spanish-style house just off Sunset Boulevard, Purcell Rodrigues and his wife and business partner, Stephanie, pictured here, have converted the ground floor and garden into a retail environment for the Purcell Living line of tables, chairs, storage and quirky accessories. (You might remember the Sake Bomb, the designer's ceramic Japanese rice wine cups and decanter shaped like a World War II sea mine.)
The furniture ranges from the wildly colored to quietly sculptural. In one corner of the garden, Purcell's Stingray chaise, an undulating day bed, makes a statement in bright aqua Sunbrella fabric; nearby a pair of his Cuscino easy chairs sit like giant hot pink and lime green bolsters bound with straps, above.
Inside the house, the dining set is the designer's vision of modern rustic style: Formaldehyde-free Europly wood tables and chairs are accented with gold-plated screws, a mash-up of glam and organic styles.
Villa Purcell is open by appointment.
-- Alexandria Abramian-Mott
Photos: Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Karan had staged a pop-up store in West Hollywood before. Now she’s setting down retail roots with a feel-good hook: Ten percent of the store’s net sales will benefit her Urban Zen Foundation. (Updated: A representative from Urban Zen kindly questioned our earlier characterization of the foundation and what it does, so let us simply suggest that if you're curious, you're welcome to explore the website yourself.)
The new store's three buildings — two where furniture, clothing and accessories are mixed and one that houses a beautiful kitchen — form an L-shape around a private garden area. Karan's low-slung, minimalist furniture is on display inside and out, including enormous teak sofas loaded with enough cushions and pillows to outfit a yoga studio. Like the sofas, the dining tables and chairs are made of teak and exude a world-traveled ease.
But against the proliferation of woods — the ceiling beams, the dark-stained floors, even a pair of primitive-looking wooden boats that are propped up near the entrance — the store also features some less expected materials. Karan’s huge bean bags are made of neoprene, and beaded Haitian necklaces are made of recycled cereal boxes. Artist Joscelyn Himes’ hand-dyed throw pillows are finished using shibori, a Japanese dyeing technique.
As for that kitchen? It’s not part of the shopping experience. Karan plans to use the space frequently for entertaining when the New York designer is in Los Angeles, and the ease and elegance of an on-site cooking facility is her minimalist alternative to ordering takeout.
Italian lamps designed by Angelo Lelli in the late 1960s performed well, as did the midcentury work of Greta Magnusson Grossman, one of the primary recipients of posthumous adoration now that California design is experiencing a resurgence of appreciation. Her 4-foot-2 Grasshopper floor lamp, pictured at right, had been estimated at $3,000 to $4,000 leading up to the Wright auction. It sold for $11,250. (The design is on view in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's show "California Design 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way.") If you think that the Grasshopper price is stunning, check out the smaller Grossman table lamp above, which went for $15,000 on Thursday.
"California design is really on the make now," said Michael Jefferson, Wright's senior specialist for 20th century design. He said the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions could be nudging the market, but he also noted that most of the bidding for the Grossman designs came from the East Coast. "We're seeing European interest as well," he said.
Though some of the most expensive pieces in the auction went unsold, less costly pieces by top designers still brought near-record prices, Jefferson said. Given the perception of a slightly depressed market, consignors were urged to run with low estimates in hopes of drawing broad interest and sending bids higher. The strategy worked.
"When push comes to shove, buyers are willing to pay for extraordinary pieces," Jefferson said. Lighting in particular performed well, partly because many buyers were seeking functional design -- pieces that would not be not only appreciated but also used.
The rosewood Flip table clock, pictured at right, sold for $1,450. It was designed by Arthur Umanoff circa 1960 for the Howard Miller Clock Co., and it's just 6 inches wide.
For more results from the auction Thursday, keep reading ...
The annual event, scheduled for Saturday, has the Los Angeles manufacturer of midcentury modern furnishings slashing prices 20% to 80% for just one day.
During a preview Thursday, Novak gave me a tour and pointed out a dizzying number of deals: grasshopper chairs (at right in red), regularly $1,495, will be reduced to $795. Large Case Study storage units in a variety of colors and woods, regularly $1,550, will be $599, and smaller units, regularly $374, will be $149. A love seat with triple chrome plated legs, regularly $2,100, will be reduced to $1,595.
About 500 fiberglass shell chairs, pictured above, will be sold in what Novak described as "salad bar fashion": Customers can pick out the chair style, color and base they prefer. The chair can then be assembled or taken home. "People like to pick out their own chair," Novak said. Fiberglass dowel-base side chairs, regularly $349, will be $199; fiberglass rocker armchairs, regularly $375, will be $225. Chrome wire chairs on Eiffel bases will be $99.
George Nelson bubble lamps will also be reduced. Lamps that regularly sell for $269 to $485 will be $160 to $250. Other items I spotted: a replica of a Noguchi coffee table, regularly $1,095, now $299; circular dining tables that regularly are $795 to $895 will be $299, and mini wire tables that regularly are $99 will be $49.
Novak and brother Jay suggested shoppers arrive early for best selection. They even joked that they were hitting up family and friends to come in and help, and that's in addition to the 60 people already staffing the event.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 2901 Saco St., Vernon. Payment must be by Visa, Mastercard or cash. Delivery is available in Los Angeles for a fee. If you can't carry merchandise home on Saturday, you can come pick it up on Sunday.
For those not in Los Angeles, Modernica is discounting everything on its website by 15% from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call Modernica's Beverly Boulevard showroom at (323) 933-0383.
-- Lisa Boone
Photos: Jennifer Brandon
West Elm has announced its roster of designers for home furnishings to be released before the holidays, and the list includes: Brooklyn furniture designer Paul Loebach; graphic designer Dana Tanamachi, also from Brooklyn; Crosley Radio; the nonprofit crafts group AID to Artisans; Egg Press, a letterpress studio in Portland, Ore.; and Schmidt Brothers Cutlery.
Looking at the designs, which are due out this week, I found myself gravitating toward the contemporary furnishings by Loebach, who has a background in woodworking. Loebach gets playful with the multifunctional pieces shown above: a gate-leg dining table ($449), dining chair ($249), tall shelf ($349) and media credenza, ($599).
"I am interested in the fundamental language of the way form is expressed through wood," Loebach said from New York. The designer said the affordable line is designed with small-scale living in mind, as well as memory. "That is what makes a design successful," he said. "The way an object triggers a memory in a person. It comes from shared experiences."
Loebach sees the new pieces as traditional pieces updated in a modern way. "Why not adapt furnishings to people's lifestyles today?" he said. Case in point: The dining room table was inspired by old hunt tables. Loebach gave it drop-down leaves that allow seating for two to six people. He also added pared-down turned-wood legs.
"It's about breaking down the structure and presenting it in a new way," Loebach said. "It's a bit surprising."