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South Coast Collection, OC Mart Mix: Cool shopping in Costa Mesa

March 23, 2012 |  8:36 am

South-Coast-CollectionCosta 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.

Ocmart“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.

Up for even more? You can head toward the smaller and funkier boutiques a few minutes away at the Camp and the Lab, which actually calls itself the Antimall.

To see more of the South Coast Collection and its OC Mart Mix, keep reading ...

View Costa Mesa malls in a larger map

Deco Home Costa Mesa
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.


Portola Coffee Lab
Customers wait for coffee drinks from Portola Coffee Lab in the OC Mart Mix.


The Cheese Shop Costa Mesa
The Cheese Shop in the OC Mart Mix has artisan cheeses and charcuterie.


Heirlooms & Hardware Costa Mesa
Vintage letterpress keys ($8 apiece) are sold along with antiques and reclaimed wood tables at  Heirlooms & Hardware in the OC Mart Mix.


Nomadic Industries Costa Mesa
An OC Mart Mix space called As Issued sells original artworks, prints, books and recycled cardboard chairs by Nomadic Industries (starting at $65 for kids, $125 for adult).


South Coast Collection Costa Mesa
Even on a rainy day, customers spill out onto the courtyards.


Vintage Wood Floor Costa Mesa
Samples of repurposed wood from barns, farmhouses, wine barrels and more fill the showroom of the Vintage Wood Floor Co.


Pal + Smith Costa Mesa
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.



Fixtures Lixing shower Sanctuary
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 Wood Stone oven
Fixtures Living sous chef Athan Pixler prepares a gratin of fingerling potatoes and goat cheese in a Wood Stone hearth oven during a cooking demonstration.


Fixtures Living Wood Stone oven
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.


Inside Out 365
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.


Cord chairs
Chairs ($395 each) at Inside Out 365 come in a variety of colors.



A selection of fabrics hang in the Scalamandre showroom at the South Coast Collection.


Scalamandre pillows
Pillows made from Scalamandre's zebra print, based on the original artwork by Flora Scalamandre.


We Olive

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.


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-- Lisa Boone

Photos: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times