by Marisa Marcantonio

On my recent trip to LA as a Social Media Ambassador (or as I like to call it  Ambassador-ess) for the 6th Annual La Cienega Design Quarter's Legends of La Cienega, I hit the ground running.  Few places have such great design shops in such close proximity to one another, with a tight-knit, supportive design community to go along with it. Here are the sights, panels, parties and perfection I took in while there. 

My first stop? I headed straight for Abbot Kinney in Venice, home to indie brands, cool kids, small niche boutiques, hip coffee shops and organic food restaurants.  I was totally taken with The Piece Collective, above, the unique concept shop housed in a crisp white bungalow with vibrantly painted exterior.

An assortment of organic looking, very LA natural and cool accessories with spare warm modern appeal

So, if you didn't know, Dream Catchers are a thing-- this wall hanging is more on that theme.  So are natural materials when used sparingly, as seen in a modern raffia chair, round jute rug and neutral palette on display.

If you know Toms, the amazing give-back shoe company started by Blake Mycoskie, then you might be pleased to learn he is now roasting coffee under the name Tom's Roasting Co. Their headquarters on Abbot Kinney include a garden out back, where employees and hipsters alike do business while sipping fair trade brews.

I made sure to hit the grand daddy of chill coffee spots, Intelligentsia. Do these people work? Doubtful. Or, maybe, they are working on a screenplay. 

Soaking up as much landscaping ambiance as I could, I relished every type of plant material that grows in this temperate clime.

At the LCDQLA kick-off party at Therien, with my favorite LA designing women, old friends Leslie Hunt of LLH Interiors and Parrish Chilcoat of Lucas Studio


Photo courtesy of JL Photographers

Photo courtesy of JL Photographers

There were engaging panels galore! I tried to hit as many as I could. Behind Jonas Upholstery's La Cienega showroom, a packed house to hear Veranda's kick-off Keynote on The Power of Authenticity, with Kim Alexandriuk, Timothy Corrigan and Betsy Burnham led by Editor in Chief Clinton Smith. The best takeaway? "Mix artwork so it feels layered and diverse", shared Alexandriuk when discussing a client that only wanted abstract art. "Pair a charcoal line drawing with photgraphy and variation of mediums." The key to collecting art is to buy what you love, but also always be looking.

I dashed over to the Rose Tarlow Melrose House showroom in between talks. It is literally in what could be a house, a beautifully done building that used to be a bookstore on Melrose Avenue.  The space is so elegantly understated, I am always ready to move in when i visit.

Next, it was across the street to hear some of the new voices on the Northern California scene. I loved this group. Grant Gibson, Catherine Kwong, Luxe Editor in Chief Pamela Jaccarino and Chloe Redmond Warner made up the San Francisco contingent. Talking about trends in culture and tech in Back To The Future at George Smith. What's hot now? Glam 70's brass and mirrored pieces showcasing, as Kwong put it, "The best parts of the period, leaving the rest behind." She noted an old Mick and Bianca Jagger photo set the stage for a project's inspiration.

Afterwards, I popped over to Peter Dunham's Hollywood at Home, where I can always expect a dose of comfort, and the layered look he does so well.. He has two storefronts, one for furniture and accessories, and the other for mainly fabric lines and more furniture and accessories.


A bevy of pillows made from his own printed textile line, as well as tribal and suzani prints

Then its back to Melrose, where I stop in to visit Nathan Turner. Capturing breezy seaside living, his interiors as well as his shop contain cozy pieces with a patina of age in addition to easy to give hostess gifts. Shelves of soaps, trays and rustic French glassware make finding a house present a snap.


Sweet red Anemones casually arranged in a swirled pottery pitcher in Nathan Turner exude charm

Another corner of the store, set up for a fun book signing with beautifully arranged fresh crudite in baskets


Wednesday night I hit Soho House for dinner with a friend that used to live in LA. I did not take a picture of us and put it up on the Photo Boudoir wall. I left that to the celebrities.

Photo courtesy of JL Photographers

Photo courtesy of JL Photographers

Starting bright and early on Friday, The Million Dollar Decorator line-up after their packed 1st Dibs-sponsored keynote panel at Dragonette. They talked about collaborating, sharing stories in that amusing way only this group can.

Taking in the nearby scenery, picturesque Melrose Place has become the fashion mecca's stomping ground, with stores like Marni and Isabel Marant replacing antique stores. The vista would not be LA without a token Prius. 

More prettiness along Melrose Place

Photo courtesy of JL Photographers

Photo courtesy of JL Photographers

The panel in founding LCDQ member Lee Stanton's garden space took place under an orange umbrella, fitting for the stunning California weather. A panel on social media, led by C Magazine's design editor Alison Clare Steingold with from left, blogger Jason Todd Dick, author and designer Todd Nickey of firm and shop Nickey Kehoe, Steingold and Shiva Rose of blog The Local Rose.  They all attest to the allure of Instagram for being the best visual medium for sharing their discoveries.

Because afternoon coffee in LA is needed to combat jetlag, I headed to Melrose Place's Alfred's Coffee for my daily dose. 

Thursday evening I had the great pleasure of  dining at Dawnridge, the late Tony Duquette's magical house in Beverly Hills. Hosted by Newell Turner of House Beautiful, Scalamandre's Steven Stollman, Kohler, and Dawnridge's Hutton Wilkinson, the evening was lovely, dining under the stars in an exotic garden with delicious Indian food prepared by Alex Hitz. 

Every time I go to Dawnridge, I am instantly transported, and want to stay in the glitz and glamour there. Each turn reveals an interesting and exotic shiny object to admire. And no one hosts a party like Hutton. No one.

Back to design hunting....A visit to Suzanne Rheinstein's Hollyhock is a transporting experience.


Florentine paper goods and decorative accessories worth swooning over

This chic seating area welcomed visitors to Joe Lucas and Parrish Chilcoat's amazing design destination, Harbinger. Housing a wide range of trusted resources, like the range of Holland and Sherry fabrics,  small boutique fabric companies, Colleen and Co lanterns, eclectic art and namesake furniture designs, the shop is constantly rotating in new finds sourced on European buying trips.

The mix is anything but expected. The design duo plays with texture, color and pattern in a totally innovative way.

Take, for example, this traditional cerused poster bed, pumped up with a wildly patterned swirl wallpaper behind it.


Colorful Colleen and Co lanterns hang above a seating area with sea-inspired artwork by the talented artist and fabric designer, Alex K Mason

I love this Mecox Gardens location- it is always chock a block with the latest great accessories and furniture, all with a relaxed look and feel

The mind-bendingly cool window vignette, as viewed through an iphone created by Doug and Gene Meyer in Dragonette's window.  The interior was inspired by Rand's The Fountainhead, and shows an interior that never was, in painstakingly accurate miniature detail.

Obelisks aplenty at Dragonette, where best of the best vintage finds have set the tone for years.

I headed over to Michael S. Smith's Jasper Showroom to catch it in party-ready mode before Architectural Digest's cocktail party, with stunning flower arrangements hither and yon.  

Showing his Jasper fabric collection and furniture, the space also is home to many well-respected established brands, like Robert Kime. Elegant and formal yet comfortable is a design language  Smith knows well.

In parting, a Gracie-clad seating area exudes old world chic, real life comfort.

Wearing stunning floral halos, servers at Veranda's LCDQLA closing party at McKinnon and Harris closed things out in high style.

Thanks for a great visit, LA and LCDQ! Can't wait to be back. Perhaps being bi-coastal is my calling?