Hollywood's New Collecting Craze: Contemporary Design

8:00 AM 10/29/2017

by Degen Pener

Meet the designers and galleries that are making Los Angeles a mecca for avant-garde decor

Collectible Contemporary_NotSoGeneral_embed - Publicity - EMBED 2017
Courtesy of Emma Feil

    Nikolai and Simon Haas, younger brothers of the actor Lukas Haas, got their break in 2010 when they designed offices for Tobey Maguire, who fell in love with their fantastically surreal aesthetic. It’s a look that makes you think of “Jim Henson or Maurice Sendak,” says Discovery Channel Group President Rich Ross, who has two tables by the pair. Based out of a workshop in the Adams-Normandie neighborhood, the Haas Brothers have a wide-ranging practice that includes furniture made with brass hexagon-shaped-tiles that are individually bent to cover curved shapes, Muppet-like decorative figures and ceramic pieces, many calling to mind creatures, some with a not-so-subtle erotic element. They recently had a survey show at the UTA Artist Space in downtown Los Angeles. thehaasbrothers.com



    Paris-based avant-garde retailer L’Eclaireur opened its first L.A. store last year in a chateau-inspired three-story building on Robertson, featuring everything from a Fornasetti-dedicated room to a top-floor events space (located on what was formerly the private residence of the late florist-to-the-stars David Jones.) Designs by such international stars as Belgians Ado Chale and Pia Manu and French sculptor Philippe Hiquily, and American sculptor John-Paul Philippe are displayed throughout the residential-feeling space.

    Pictured: On the third-floor of the space are Mario Bellini’s Camaleonda sofa ($24,000), Hiquily’s ten-piece stainless steel table set ($125,000) and a Lindsey Adelman’s 10 Globe Branching Burst chandelier ($25,000); leclaireur.com 

    450 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood


    The designer’s Rubber Credenza, which first brought him to attention when it debuted two years ago, has a intriguingly shadowy quality — its molded protrusions make it seem almost like there’s something trapped inside that is trying to get out of the piece. This year, Thoreen explored themes of stability and instability when he won his first solo show at NYC’s Patrick Parrish gallery. Titled Unsettled, the exhibition included pieces in marble, bronze and smoked glass that creatively used weight and counterweight. “A lot of people refer to my furniture as sculptural or artistic or conceptual,” says Thoreen. He and fellow L.A. designer Kristin Victoria Barron have a major commercial commission debuting soon in downtown Los Angeles, creating furniture and lighting for Fourth and Traction, a mixed-use redevelopment of the old Coca-Cola plant in the Arts District.

    Pictured: Thoreen’s Rubber Credenza ($30,500) and cast-bronze-and-brass Growth Table ($16,000), in an edition of 12; brianthoreen.com and patrickparrish.com.



    “I do feel the pendulum is swinging back to the hand-made and durable. So many things in our culture are mass-produced and fall apart,” says Carly Jo Morgan, whose work is collected by actors Tobey Maguire and Michelle Monaghan and singer Devendra Banhart. Morgan, previously a jewelry designer and creator of a wallpaper company, works in pink and black terrazzo, which is often inlaid with brass and resin. “Terrazzo is marble crushed and embedded in a cement matrix. The process involves a high degree of polish. We do everything by hand,” says Morgan, who lives in Topanga Canyon and has a studio in Lincoln Heights near downtown. Standout pieces include her weighty Moon Chairs and Cozy Cave Chairs (covered in mohair) and her tables and lighting incorporating a snake motif. “The snakes represent shedding the skins of the past,” says Morgan, who is represented by Not So General. She describes her aesthetic as “ancient cultures meet the future.”

    Pictured: Morgan’s Brass, terrazzo and glass Transmutation Table ($18,000), in a limited edition of six and Cozy Cave Chair ($9,600); carlyjomorgan.com and notsogeneral.la



    In order to spotlight individual designers in a gallery-setting, Stefan Lawrence of design mecca Twentieth opened The New last year, a dedicated space adjacent to his store. Exhibitions to date have been devoted to the works of Todd St. John, Mattia Biagi, Christopher Boots and Fernando Mastrangelo.

    Pictured: Boots’ vanity screen in cast bronze, lapis lazuli and clear quartz ($125,000, edition of 8) and two works by Videre Licet, a collaboration between Lawrence and artist/designer Daniele Albright, Offset Cube in bronze with mohair ($18,000) and Aubergine Lumalight in hand-molded acrylic and LED (customizable, pricing upon request); twentieth.net

    7466 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles


    Pasadena-native David Wiseman brings a poetic sensibility to his practice. “My first interest was to bring nature indoors,” says Wiseman, who got his first big break when he designed a bas-relief ceiling in a Hancock Park home of flowers and vines done in plaster and porcelain. “My first interest was to bring nature indoors,” says Wiseman, who has since created a similar gingko leaf installation for Wendi Murdoch on the ceiling of the dining room in her NYC place. He also excels in metal-work, creating chandeliers and fireplace screens in his in-studio foundry. Wiseman — along with his brother Ari, who left his job as deputy director of the Guggenheim to run David’s company — is now building a new one-acre workshop and gallery compound in L.A.’s hot Frogtown neighborhood adjacent to the L.A. River. To see one of Wiseman’s public installations, head to West Hollywood’s public library where a large plaster tree by the designer occupies the main staircase. Wiseman also just was one of ten artists selected to design custom versions of the Lady Dior handbag as part of the house's Dior Lady Art Project. 

    Pictured: Wiseman’s bronze-and-porcelain Radial Branch Chandelier and bronze, porcelain and glass Pattern Flare Table both unique pieces, prices upon request; dwiseman.com





    Weaver Andrew Paulson and his ceramicist husband Sean Dougall live and work in a converted former lightbulb factory in Watts in South Los Angeles. “We have room to spread out and make a big mess,” says Paulson. The couple’s first creation was a cast bronze writing desk with dimmable LED whose size (3 feet high by 4 1/3 feet long) and delicate lines bely its weightiness. “It’s exactly 300 pounds. It’s a behemoth,” says Paulson, a former literary agent and book agent. Dougall is an Emmy-nominated former art director for television and music. Their newest collection, Auraform, which includes sconces, chairs and even meditation mats, has just opened in L.A. at Blackman Cruz. The inspirations for the pieces include everything from jellyfish to stars. “We’re looking at light as ancient light or fossilized light. We were thinking about the question of what the oldest light would look like at the farthest reaches of the universe and in the deepest part of ourselves,” says Paulson. Their pieces are owned by such design aficionados as Peter Guber and Ryan Seacrest, and the pair also designed the new downtown Los Angeles restaurant Giulia.

    Pictured: Reef cocktail table in ceramic coated and polished stainless steel ($9,375), a unique piece, their Nimbus bar stool ($5,675) in stainless steel, handwoven silk and mylar ribbon, in an edition of 52, and a quartet of sconces ($2,400 to $6,000) in glass, glazed stoneware, nickel-plated brass and dimmable LED. dougallpaulson.com and blackmancruz.com


    The designer began his series of Puddle tables after he had recurring dreams involving water. To arrive at the abstract shapes of the furniture, he poured ink pools on the floor of his studio. Earlier this year, Bishop had his first solo show in Los Angeles at Furth Yashar & __, which exhibited a range of works, from functional pieces in wood and metal to more sculptural monoliths. He began his career as a sculptor after studying art at California College of the Arts. “His functional pieces developed from the remnant material of making the sculptures,” says gallery co-owner Oliver Furth. Aong the fans of his work are Discovery Channels group president Rich Ross and interior designer Don Stewart, who’s recently completed a new Los Angeles home for John Legend and Chrissy Teigen.

    Pictured: Hand-carved Agaricus coffee table in Elmwood ($38,000), a unique piece, and hand-finished Puddle side table in solid cast bronze ($20,000), in an edition of 12. stefanbishop.com and christinagrajalesinc.com


    Few people can take as much credit for the rise of the vintage mid-century modern design market than Joel Chen of JF Chen, whose great eye, large inventory and flair for promotion have helped make designers like Charlotte Perriand and Borge Mogensen household names among Hollywood’s elite collectors. In addition to period pieces he also represents such contemporary designers as Tanya Aguiniga, Michael Wilson and Material Lust.

    Pictured: Wilson’s stacked laminated walnut bench and Material Lust’s raw-steel Duat Table Lamp, both price upon request. Jfchen.com

    830 N. Highland Ave. and 1000 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles


    “I feel like culture is being created in Los Angeles,” says Kriest Studio’s Kristin Victoria Barron of the swelling numbers of artists and designers working in the city. Her work — which is based on imagery from Barron’s dreams, which she records — has a timeless, metamorphic quality with lamps and fine objects that feel like they were forged in another time and place. Barron, who is represented by The Future Perfect, lives and works among the pine trees in the mountain town of Idyllwild, Calif.

    Pictured: Her egg-shaped Alkahest Dome Lights (31” lamp, $20,500; 22” lamp, $15,500) in cast bronze with glassed linen shades, and Cenotaph Lamp Minor ($2,705) in turned brass, cast bronze, Aesculus burl wood with linen shade; thefutureperfect.com/losangeles


    Former Relativity business exec Paul Davidge opened Not So General last year in a former general store in West Hollywood, giving a spotlight to contemporary designers including Carly Jo Morgan (known for her works in terrazzo with snake designs), Brooklyn-based design duo Vonnegut Kraft and Amsterdam-based glass designer Germans Ermics. “People just generally don’t want to have anything that’s off the shelf,” says Davidge of the interest in limited-edition, studio-made works.

    Pictured: Vonnegut Kraft’s bleached ash Crescent Lounge ($8,200), Edizione Limitata Factory’s brass-and-oak Icenine Stool ($2,500) and Revolution Mirror ($800); Early Work’s Angled Wood Bar Sofa ($11,400), Ermics’ Ombre Coffee Table ($5,000), a unique piece, and Edizione Limitata Factory’s Brass Revolution Mirror ($1,350); notsogeneral.la 

    7209 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood


    After a decade inside the Pacific Design Center, Ralph Pucci, one of the long-time champions of contemporary design, moved to a new space in the Hollywood’s Media District earlier this year. Located in a former dance studio until recently used for rehearsals by Dancing with the Stars, the expanded location is big enough (12,000 square feet) to entire rooms to be dedicated to the works of French designers Herve van der Straeten and India Mahdavi. The gallery-like space also plays host to art shows, including a new exhibit of photography by Matthew Rolston, which opens 10/27.

    Pictured: van der Straeten’s reflective Piercing console ($114,960, edition of 8), Lollypop glass mirror ($33,420) and Hip Hop Chandelier ($36,480), and Elizabeth Garouste’s Busy club chair ($18,000), ceramic, lacquer and bronze Charly cabinet ($60,000, edition of 24), Busby sofa ($27,000) and Wally armchair ($16,200); ralphpucci.net


    While their own signature LF Collection is inspired by mid-century lines, Lawson-Fenning also represents works by nearly three dozen other designers, including Jason Koharik (whose sconces hang on the walls of the green room for Late Night with Seth Meyers) and Jonathan Entler. Its new exhibition Collabs in Clay focuses on ceramic works that go beyond vessels. 

    Pictured: The solid-white-oak and ceramic BZippy Tornado table ($2,250), a collaboration between Bari Ziperstein and Lawson Fenning, and a view of the Lawson-Fenning showroom; lawsonfenning.com

    6824 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles


    The master glass artist, who established her L.A. studio in 1994, has long been represented commercially by Holly Hunt and her pieces have been collected by the likes of Madonna, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. Berger, who was introduced to glass-blowing at age 15, also makes works to be sold as art, such as the Vertical Shroud (pictured), a unique sculpture piece recently shown by L.A.’s Edward Cella Art & Architecture gallery. The nearly six-foot-tall work includes 14 hand-carved optical lenses in bronze frames, four mirrors and five bulbs, arranged behind acid-etched glass, all designed to react contextually to whatever environment the piece is placed in. 

     alisonbergerglassworks.com and edwardcella.com


  •   FURTH YASHAR & __ 

    A roving gallery that debuted this year and has already staged exhibitions at the Pacific Design Center and inside Brentwood’s Palevsky décor boutique, Furth Yashar &__ is the brainchild of interior designer Oliver Furth and PR and marketing pro Sean Yashar. “Our gallery is all about raising design to the gallery-like level you see fine art,” says Furth, who sees a growing market for contemporary design in Los Angeles. “A decade ago, an art collector would be looking at vintage furniture to fill in among their artworks. That’s changing.” Adds Yashar: “There’s a resurgence of artist-made furniture. It all comes down to supporting and nurturing talent and bringing them into the conversation.” The gallery’s debut show last spring was the first solo show ever in Los Angeles devoted to the work of L.A.-based designer Stefan Bishop. It’s planning a new show to debut next spring in a modernist home in the Hollywood Hills.

    Pictured: The Bishop show at the PDC, which included the designer’s wood monoliths and bronze Puddle tables. furthyashar.com

    Various locations, Los Angeles


    The Future Perfect, one of NYC’s foremost go-tos for contemporary design, opened a West Coast satellite earlier this year inside a midcentury-modern house in the Hollywood Hills, built in 1957 by architect David Hyun. “When I started my company in 2003, we carried contemporary and we carried Americans and I had to defend both things very strongly,” says founder David Alhadeff of the challenge in making collectible contemporary by U.S. designers a hot commodity in the design world. Now, the Future Perfect even partners with the designers on its roster in the creation and fabrication of new works, such as a series of glazed ceramic chairs by Queens-based Reinaldo Sanguino. Address of house provided upon scheduling appointment.

    Pictured: Items at Casa Perfect include (from left), Sanguino’s one-of-a-kind metallic ceramic chairs ($6,800), Lazzarini & Pickering for Marta Sala Editions’ Elisabeth Sofa ($12,450) and P2 Wanda Full Armchair ($2,885) in Dedar fabric, Dimore Studio’s Lampada 036 ceiling fixture ($16,730), Eric Roinestad’s one-of-a-kind ceramic stoneware on fireplace, and Christopher Stuart’s brass Chamfer Table 1 ($18,500, edition of 20);  thefutureperfect.com/losangeles