los angeles design guide


Written by Lizzie Garrett + Edited by Design*Sponge

When I was talking to Grace about the idea of an L.A. design guide I was moaning about how hard it is to compartmentalize this sprawling city into neat little neighborhoods, and while some, like Silver Lake, are easy to define— the one I live in has no distinct name (it’s between Hollywood and West Hollywood, usually I just say my street.) No distinct name is a fair trade, however, for the best design shopping in town. What follows is a guide to the must-visit design stores in Los Angeles, including four great streets from my “Los Angeles” neighborhood and the best of Silver Lake. Enjoy. [This list will be updated frequently so please feel free to comment below or email d*s your suggestions]

Getting There: For public transportation options, check out mta.net.

W. 3rd Street: If you have to pick one street for walking, eating, and shopping, the strip of 3rd between Crescent Heights and La Cienega is a no-brainer. It’s colorful, sunny, and has a great energy about it. Here are the must-see design shops on 3rd:

  • OK Store: OK, quite rightly, has the reputation of being the mecca of LA design stores— maybe because the owner, Larry Schaffer, seems to be known by everyone in town. The store has a little bit of everything good, and a wide range of blown glass, rare design books, japanese tea sets, and Tair Mercier placemats.
  • Zipper: An excellent place to go for gifts, Zipper mixes elegant with whimsy.
  • New Stone Age: From its edited selection of John Derian trays to the antique bird cages—it makes you feel like you’re in a 19th Century science lab—I love it. [Photo above from New Stone Age]
  • Plastica: All plastic, all the time (bento boxes, woven plastic rugs, Marimekko trays)—this shop shows the world not all plastic in L.A. comes from Dr. 90210.
  • Flight 001: Anything you need to travel comfortably and stylishly under one fuselage—and the best selection of luggage tags around.
  • Room Service: Located way east on 3rd is Room Service; a Poppy/funky home goods store heavy on the loft style.

[Nosh: One of the most popular places to eat on 3rd is Toast, especially for brunch because it has plenty of outdoor seating—but hardly the best food. Try the new Little Next Door Market—a French deli with excellent baguettes and soups or Joan’s On Third, the local’s favorite.]

Beverly Blvd: Parallel to 3rd, and just one block north, Beverly is not only the new restaurant row—it boasts a sprinkling of design shops, including two of my favorites: Zelen Home and Ige Designs. Here are the shops to visit when you’re cruising on Beverly:

  • Ige: Helene Ige, famous for her pillows and mobiles, has a store that I could spend hours in. Last time I was
    there I bought a tiny plastic lobster with bobbleing pinchers that sits on my stovetop.
  • Zelen Home: Zelen is a little shop full of beautiful curiosities, most with an emphasis on the natural world. Here is where you find the things everyone will comment on, and no one will have.
  • Modernica: I think of it as DWR’s arch enemy! I love Modernica because you can custom build an Eames fiberglass chair in any color, base or height you want. Herman Miller stamp? We don’t need no stinking stamp.
  • REHAB Vintage Interiors: Fantastic office furniture with a selection of vintage (Steel Case) and modern metal.
  • Emmerson Troop & Orange: These two stores (right next door from each other) both offer a selection of vintage goods, mostly furniture, that will knock your socks off, unfortunately the prices won’t.
  • Shelter: Inspired by mid-century design, they call their furniture and accessories “high-end basics” and I agree.
  • Twentieth: The closest thing to a Moss in Los Angeles, Twentieth focuses soley on high-end design.

[Nosh: BLD has a blueberry ricotta pancake that will bring you one step closer to heaven as well as an out-of-this-world fried egg sandwich.]

Melrose Ave: Just one more block north from Beverly lies perhaps one of the most well-known streets in the city. East of Fairfax, Melrose is full of clothing stores, head shops, costume stores, sneaker stores (read: Von Dutch, Johnny Rockets, and that place that sells herbal ecstasy); but West of Fairfax caters to a more sophisticated palate—(read: Stella McCartney, Diane Von Furstenberg, Fred Segal and Marc Jacobs). Most of these stores are not unique to L.A., so I wont go into too much detail. Oh, and rumor has it Murray Moss is opening a West Coast Moss sometime in 2007 on Melrose Place.

  • The Rug Company: Designer rugs at designer prices.
  • Paul Smith: I love going into the Paul Smith store to check out their coffee table books, Deadly Squire merch, Aalto vases, and other designy items.
  • Jonathan Adler: Where would we be these past ten years with out JA?
  • TableArt: Just over a year old now, Tart has become synonymous with hip tableware (think Bodo Sperelin and Ted Mueling) in L.A.
  • Zero Minus Plus at Fred Segal (8100 Melrose Avenue): If you can handle it, Fred Segal has home store that has a great selection of picture
    frames, coffee table books, and home office goods.
  • Marc Jacobs Home: His first shipment flew out of the store faster than most people could even get a glimpse. Perhaps
    his collaboration with Waterford will stick around a little longer.
  • Soolip Paperie & Press: Excellent selection of stationary and cards.
  • Fitzsu Society: Carlo Alessi, Marcel Wanders, Kaj Franck, Phillipe Starck, Marc Newson, and Michael Graves all living in
    harmony under one roof. I love this store because it melds together several decades and still maintains a current-as-ever vibe.

[Nosh: Urth Caffé: is a casual lunch spot with excellent organic coffee, tamales, and salads. M-Café de Chaya boasts an all macrobiotic menu— order the organic French fries, trust me.]

La Brea Ave: Most of the action on La Brea is on the East side of the street, you’ll find some great little stores to pop into, an artsy
movie theatre, a vintage sunglass store that is unreal—no really: the have mirrored white Rossignol aviators from the 1980s, and a general youthful edginess to the atmosphere.

  • Maison Midi: A must for Francophiles, the imports like Perrier glassware and Lagiole knives are top notch. Conveniently a connecting doorway will lead you right into American Rag for some designer denim.
  • Volcom: Occasionally the Volcom store, which blends artistic expression and retail seamlessly throughout their clothing
    opens it’s back room as a gallery to surfer/skater/snowboarder artists like Oska Wright and Kenton Parker, and those bros can paint, man!
  • Homework: Homework balances whimsical design with modern staples and just as important— no pretense anywhere.
  • Landon Cole Furniture: Along with Landon’s custom furniture (much of it rich dark woods) he sells original photography and paintings in the store.
  • Diamond and Foam Fabrics: Interior designers swear by this place and I have to say it’s more fabric than the eye can see—so go with something in mind or you’ll be there for
  • Pulp: Off beat office supplies, beautiful wrapping paper and the best greeting cards are why I am there before every holiday and birthday.

[Nosh: Pop into Cube, for an artisinal cheese plate
or charcuterie assortment, some pasta, a pizza, or a just a great salad. It is one of the best bangs for the buck I know of in this city (besides the Taco truck next to the car wash). Or, for an almost guaranteed celeb citing check out Café Midi, which is connected to the home store Maison Midi, and has a killer croque madame. For a great drink and some goat cheese fondue keep walking South down to Luna Park]

Silver Lake: For a more hipster (L.A.’s version of Williamsburg) experience head east about 15 minutes to Silver Lake, home to rockers
like Beck, Rooney, Karen O, Pavement and a few design stores you don’t want to miss.

  • A+R: Hands down my favorite design store on the East side. It’s one of those places where you say, “I like everything in here.”
  • Yolk: The place to find unusual gifts, items that are only carried by independent contractors. An indie design store in Silver Lake? No way!
  • Reform School: Opened last Fall to rave reviews not only because their products are great finds, but most of them are environmentally-friendly.

[Nosh: Gingergrass: Fresh Vietnamese food with a modern interior—their imperial rolls are reason enough to make the
drive, or even rent an apartment in Silver Lake.]

This article was written by Lizzie Garrett and Edited by Design*Sponge. Lizzie Garrett is an L.A.-based freelance writer who has written for Los Angeles Magazine, Bon Appétit, and edits a design blog called DESIGNwatcher.com


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