Place // Landmarks

Change of Scenery

Sea Change

Montage Laguna Beach unveiled a head-to-toe makeover in March, complete with improvements to the property’s lobby, lounge and accommodations. Expect a view of the Pacific from a framed window in the lobby, as well as new Brazilian cherry wood flooring and California-coastal furniture in the lobby and popular lobby lounge.

The 253 updated guestrooms (including suites and bungalows) now boast a muted color palette accented by vibrant pops of steel blue, violet, yellow and chartreuse, along with sustainably sourced furnishings and amenities such as candles by Laguna Candles (with a Montage-specific scent), Matouk throw blankets, and champagne buckets and dog bowls hand-sculpted by the artists of Tina Frey.

“In keeping with the comfortable and classical-chic feel, the resort has always had, we have enhanced the guest experience with refreshed common areas and modernized guestrooms,” says Montage Laguna Beach General Manager Anne-Marie Houston. “And we have raised our own bar to our ongoing commitment to sustainability throughout the resort at all levels.”


30801 S. Coast Hwy. Laguna Beach, CA






Urban Escape

Waikiki’s newest luxury boutique hotel is now accepting online reservations in advance of its Oct. 25 debut. Halekulani Corp.’s Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani—situated adjacent to its sister property, Halekulani—will include 284 guestrooms and four suites with ocean views.

New York City-based interior design firm Champalimaud was tapped to design the land- and water-themed accommodations and public spaces, with local artwork from the Honolulu Museum of Art complementing the decor.

The property also will feature the casual Halekulani Bakery & Restaurant, complete with a variety of pastries, cakes and artisan breads by a baker from the renowned Imperial Hotel Tokyo. Rates range from $350 to $1,100, based on double occupancy.




Frida Kahlo’s Home: Picture Of Her Life.

When the exiled Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky came to Coyoacan, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City, he did so at the invitation of artist Frida Kahlo (and the man she married twice, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera).

Trotsky and his wife were welcomed at Frida’s family home Casa Azul, the Blue House, a blue as bold as the woman who was born there, died there, and spent time recovering from a horrendous, life-threatening trolley accident that left her bed-ridden, in a body cast, and alone to explore self-portraiture.

Casa Azul is a portrait of Frida, as well. Constructed in 1904, with a colonial typology, the composition lacks a significant physical configuration (its floor plan, which placed adjoining rooms around a courtyard, was typical of the period), but its engagement with community and culture makes it a building of great consequence, greater than the sum of its parts, and sensitive to poetics.

The home’s original architect is unknown, but Frida’s mannerly father Guillermo, a photographer with an interest in architecture, likely espoused his opinions about its design. While not architecturally experimental, Casa Azul was more than comfortable, a single-story structure with four bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen and servants’ quarters. Plants filled the patio.

Tall windows, French doors and elements of French decorative style on the exterior were fashionable touches. Many books and a German piano certainly helped nurture a sense of the artistic in a growing Frida.

This rich history reverberates through the halls of the current Casa Azul, a world of Frida’s creation, its vivacious palette characteristic of her work and life alike—her artistic depictions, like her dress, are vivid, expressing cultural and feminine identity and strong politics. Ornamented similarly, the house features photos of Lenin, Stalin and Mao, pre-Hispanic artifacts, mirrors and butterflies, and a show of Frida’s constrictive, spine-correcting corsets.

Modifications and expansions have been made to the house, including a wing that Diego constructed, but arguably the most of momentous transformation—its cobalt-blue painted façade—turned the building into art itself. The robust color sets off an oasis of greenery, and the red of its pre-Hispanic pyramid, which serves to integrate Mexico’s indigenous history.

The strong assertion of blue on the exterior gives way to an interior of bright-green trim and yellow accents that highlight a trove of Mexican treasures—crafts, pre-Hispanic artifacts, personal belongings and fascinating works of art by both Frida and Diego.

Rechristened the Frida Kahlo Museum in 1958, four years after her death, at which time Diego bequeathed the building to Mexico, the destination receives art and culture lovers across the world. Magically, visitors find the folkloric charm of Casa Azul in Frida and Diego’s day is much the same. One element, in particular, leaves a lasting impression: Frida’s 1954 work whose name is what Casa Azul still represents—Long Live Life.




The Commodore of Hollywood

Seeing itself as a custodian of historic residential buildings, Wilshire Skyline has had its eye on a one-of-a-kind, historic landmarked property in the heart of Hollywood for quite some time—a Mediterranean Revival-style apartment-hotel known as The Commodore that was developed in 1927 by contractor Samuel F. Bard & Co. and architectural designer Lewis A. Smith.

Fast-forward to today, and the L.A.-based real estate management and development company have dedicated approximately $10 million to transform the notable structure into The Commodore of Hollywood by Wilshire Skyline, complete with residential and hotel-style accommodations boasting modern luxuries and top-of-the-line amenities geared toward renters and travelers alike.

“Our renovation seeks to revive the building’s old Hollywood beauty and truly pay homage to the era in which it was constructed,” says Alan Nissel, principal of Wilshire Skyline. “By breathing new life into the building, we are offering residents and guests a truly special opportunity to experience old Hollywood luxury priced within reach. Our standout offerings, matched with the building’s prime location, are ideal for creatives and professionals who yearn to live like a local and have easy access to every L.A. urban expectation.”

Situated at 1830 N Cherokee Ave.—within walking distance to Vine Street, Hollywood Boulevard, Musso & Frank Grill, Grauman’s Chinese Theater and Runyon Canyon—the Killefer Flammang Architects and Studio Preveza-designed building is expected to be completed by mid-April. Expect some of the most outstanding details to be preserved (“to give it a sense of being a time capsule,” says Nissel), including an ornate entry portico, molding, arched openings, a decorative stone fireplace, and terrazzo flooring.

Accommodations will include 73 pet-friendly residences and nine hotel-style units ranging from 350 to 810 square feet, and featuring abundant natural light, soaring ceilings, hardwood flooring, spacious walk-in closets, and eat-in kitchens.

The studio and one-bedroom residences will be available furnished or unfurnished, with prices ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 per month and guest suites available for a nightly rate. Among the perks: free Wi-Fi, housekeeping, 24/7 concierge services, secured parking, a private dog park and state-of-the-art wellness workout center with Peloton bikes and virtual trainers.




Distinct Destinations

Ritzy Renaissance

North Lake Tahoe’s Crystal Bay community is remaking its history by welcoming a Silver LEED-certified mixed-use redevelopment offering 59 residences; a 275-room, five-star hotel; wellness spa; boutique shops and galleries; and casino. Kicking off the first phase is Granite Place, consisting of 18 two- to four-bedroom condos ranging from 1,641 to 2,718 square feet and featuring spa and barbecue terraces overlooking the lake, as well as access to resort-like amenities such as 24/7 concierge services such as car detailing and pet grooming. An added bonus to purchasing a mountain retreat in the new neighborhood?

“Nevada continues to have one of the least-burdensome tax structures in the nation, offering buyers the opportunity to invest or live at Granite Place while taking advantage of Lake Tahoe’s tax-free north shore,” says the project’s developer, Heather Bacon. Sales already have begun on the condos, with prices ranging from $1.65 to $2.9 million and completion set for late spring.



1 Big Water Drive Crystal Bay, Nevada



High Refashion

The former Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on the Big Island of Hawaii has been undergoing a $100 million-plus redesign and revitalization and will be reborn as Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection in late 2019. Expect the transformed resort to feature 32 Hart Howerton-designed oceanfront acres dotted with sacred royal fishing ponds, natural lava plains, tropical gardens and white-sand beaches, along with public areas and guest rooms done by Meyer Davis.

Among the highlights: ocean-front and ocean-view suites offering panoramic coastal views; ultra-luxe bungalows with private pools and butler service; two signature restaurants; a 5,000-square-foot fitness facility; spa; and an infinity-edge adult pool and lounge with cabanas. Adding to the lineup is Auberge’s signature adventures program, with activities including standup paddle boarding and outrigger canoeing. “Mauna Lani’s show-stopping features will evoke the senses—from the visually captivating design aesthetic to the soul-stirring experiential programming—for a thoughtfully crafted journey,” says General Manager Sanjiv Hulugalle.



68-1400 Mauna Lani Drive,

Kamuela, Hawaii





Art Bridge By wHY Architecture

For years Angelenos walked or jogged along a concrete-encased tributary of the L.A. River in Valley Glen, its painted flank part of the Great Wall of Los Angeles—a vibrant mural depicting California’s ethnic peoples.

To how much thought was given to what was flowing beneath the surface of the river is unclear. But we can now report: trash, entirely too much of it, that has since been retrieved from the waterway to be repurposed in an ambitious cultural project called the Art Bridge.

That it was a group of artists who started the ball rolling on what began as a nonprofit initiative is, in a sense, creative par for the course. Artists are originators of the new and provocative; change agents and revolutionaries, a force for social good.

Not unlike the group of artists who in 2009 could see the writing on the wall—not the mural, but the dilapidated wooden pedestrian bridge that desperately needed to be replaced.

They prevailed upon L.A.-based wHY Architecture, an interdisciplinary design practice serving the arts, culture, communities and the environment, to help. “I was excited, and went to look at it,” says wHY founder and creative director Kulapat Yantrasast, who as project architect, has been working on bringing about a replacement for the original bridge with muralist Judith Baca of the Social and Public Art Resource (SPARC).

Prompted by Baca’s vision, the Art Bridge was conceived to fuse art and architecture, and reflect the state of the L.A. River, which made Yantrasast “amazingly angry,” he confesses.

After his initial reaction of “What? This is the river? It is the worst irrigation trash!” he thought, “If this is how people treat the river, then we need to give the river back to them . . . like you are your river. So we collected all this trash and threw it into the bridge.”

Simple and streamlined, edged and angular, the 1,200-square-foot Art Bridge will take a modern shape and be constructed substantially from trash salvaged from the river. Concrete walls cast with bottle glass, cans, Styrofoam, dirt, and debris. A floor and pavement made from recycled tires, tennis balls, and scrap metal.

A guardrail made from recycled parts of shopping carts scattered in the riverbed. “The striation and layers of salvaged trash and materials integrated in the bridge will speak to the many generations of development and consumption by people living by the river,” says Yantrasast.

When complete, the Art Bridge will connect both banks of the river for pedestrians from Valley Glen and Los Angeles Valley College, and also be a viewing platform from which to experience the Great Wall, now an L.A. landmark. In this way, it is best to interpret the structure as a bridge far beyond the physical. It’s a merging, of people and a place—a place doing its part to help the planet.




An Ocean Apart Get Away

A True Jewel

A cherished get away once owned by a young Montecito couple has been reborn as Rosewood Miramar Beach, the only five-star hotel in California offering guestrooms perched directly over the sand. Owned and developed by Caruso, Rosewood Hotels & Resort’s first property in Southern California exudes a residential feel in keeping with its iconic ancestor.

Think relaxed coastal environs boasting 161 guestrooms paired with a modern approach to the resort experience. Among the highlights: the centerpiece Manor House with a trio of signature suites; ocean-front beach accommodations; seven restaurants and bars; a new wellness shop for Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand goop; and a 600-piece art collection showcasing original works by the likes of Norman Rockwell.

“Combining Rosewood’s signature residential style with intuitive and engaging service, the resort offers a truly unique experience that makes guests feel as if they are visiting a private home,” says Managing Director Seán Carney. “Rosewood Miramar Beach offers the perfect place for all of life’s moments.” 


1759 Jameson Ln. Montecito, CA


Charm Redefined

On the heels of a $6.5 million renovation and rebranding in 2014 that included updated guest rooms and suites, the 286-room Hilo Hawaiian Hotel on the Big Island is tackling the redo of its lobby. The $1.6 million project, set to debut at the iconic ocean-front property in April, will include a new contemporary and open yet intimate space inspired by the surrounding beauty of Hawaii.

Expect organic textures, colors and materials, along with natural wood flooring and trim complemented by coral stone and warm, dark wood accents. Updated technology also is on the roster, including the addition of touch-screen directories, monitors and charging ports.

“The Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is an award-winning Hawaii icon on Hilo’s famous and historical Banyan Drive,” says Castle Resorts & Hotels President and CEO Alan Mattson. “We are proud to be highlighting the cultural and contextual charms of the property in fresh, modern and inviting manner.”


71 Banyan Drive Hilo, HI




Cranbrook Creative Laboratory For American Modernists

Considered now, when so much of the country’s innovation and enterprise is the sole property of big cities on both coasts, Cranbrook—a creative epicenter in America’s heartland—is not the oxymoron it might seem. It’s further proof of the Midwest as a seat of progressive design, not only in Michigan, but also Wisconsin, where one finds at SC Johnson, iconic buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Before that, Wright’s Prairie School style transformed the suburbs of Chicago, much like his mentor Louis Sullivan changed the city’s skyline with steel high-rises. One could go on, to Minneapolis, and the Guthrie Theatre, to St. Louis, and the Gateway Arch.

A great deal of those responsible for this stunning physical environment come from Cranbrook Academy of Art—just one part of the larger 319-acre Cranbrook Education Community for graduate students studying an array of creative disciplines from architectural to industrial design.

Founded in the early 20th century by George and Ellen Booth, Cranbrook was envisioned as a kind of artist colony modeled after the American Academy of Art in Rome, meant to attract pioneering talents in their fields, like Gere Kavanaugh, who went from Cranbrook to the all-female design team at General Motors, to her own firm, to the Julia Morgan Icon Award from the Los Angeles Design Festival.


Of all the big names associated with Cranbrook—Florence Knoll and Charles and Ray Eames, among them—none looms larger than Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen (whose University of Michigan architecture students included the Booths’ son Henry). Inspired by the traditions and moral implications of the Arts and Crafts movement, the Booths appointed Saarinen as Cranbrook’s chief architect. He also helped developed the institution’s loose, student-designed program; with no conventional grading system or classes, Cranbrook brought the Bauhaus to Bloomfield Hills.

Unlike the International Style that governed the Bauhaus, however, Cranbrook was never so ideological, which one sees in its blend of modern and traditional buildings. Structures from its earliest years showcase Gothic Revival style, while others, like the Kingswood School for Girls, built in 1929, expresses the era’s Art Deco influence. Many agree that the best of Saarinen’s buildings is his last—the Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum and Library. With a central arcade joining its two wings, the building resonates a kind of abstracted classicism.

Cranbrook’s latest acquisition—Frank Lloyd Wright’s Smith House, one of the architect’s Usonian projects—is another jewel in a crown that is practically blinding at this point. Completed in 1950, this coup for Cranbrook is a pristine example of 20th-century residential architecture that, despite Wright’s Usonian promise of building modest homes for those of modest means, stunned its public schoolteacher owners with a final price tag of $20,000 that blew Wright’s initial proposal of $8,000 out of the water.

Mr. Smith actually served as contractor on the project to manage costs. But considering the home’s place today—a gem exquisitely fixed to one of the most important architectural treasures in the nation—we’d say that’s pretty priceless. cranbrookart.ed


Travel Options Maui & Utah

Second Act

Seeking a second home in Hawaii? Maui’s newest oceanfront development Luana Garden Villas is a collection of 72 three-bedroom residences on a 10-acre parcel within the Honua Kai Resort & Spa, along Ka’anapali Beach.

The fully furnished, 2,000-plus-square-foot homes are situated in multiple two-story buildings found in three separate garden-inspired enclaves, with each boasting a pool, hot tub, fire pit and lava rock waterfall.

Also featured are gourmet kitchens with quartz countertops and high-end appliances; dual master suites; a spacious great room that opens via retractable glass walls to a lanai sporting a full open-air kitchen; a single-car garage; and secure owner storage.

An added bonus? Convenient access to the wide range of resort amenities, including an Aquatic Playground with waterslides, waterfalls, caves and a sandy beach pool, as well as Dukes Beach House Restaurant and Whalers General Store. Prices start at around $2 million, with the property currently about 80 percent sold.

130 Kai Malina Parkway Lahaina, Maui, HI

Mountain Hideaway

If the beach is not exactly your thing, no worries. Utah’s Park City is a hot destination for Angelenos seeking second homes on the slopes. “Park City offers world-class resort amenities, yet has a small-town feel where you can shift it down a few gears and relax,” says Charlie Taylor, managing partner of The Agency’s Park City office.


“The quality of life is what has brought many people who start off as vacationers from various parts of the country and make Park City their primary or second-home community.” Among the current offerings: a contemporary residence resting on a south-facing hillside facing a stunning mountain and valley view listed for $6.195 million.

Situated at 1495 Red Fox, in the Ranches at the Preserve community, the four-bedroom home offers more than 8,000 square feet of living space with all of the bells and whistles—including a full audio-visual system with a 4K theater projector and 168-bottle wine cellar—while the 15-acre grounds sport patios with fire pits, an outdoor kitchen and in-ground spa.


-Charlie Taylor,  managing partner  of The Agency’s Park City office

1495 Red Fox Park City, UT


From Passion to Collection The Marciano Art Foundation

After over 30 years of living in Los Angeles, brothers Maurice and Paul Marciano—the minds behind iconic fashion brand GUESS—decided it was time to share their passion for contemporary art in a broader way. It was a natural evolution for the duo who moved from the South of France to the West Coast in 1981.

Since 2006, these avid visitors of art galleries and auction houses have collected works from the 1990s to the present day. Along the way, they met with artists such as Ed Ruscha in their studio and explored L.A.’s booming creative scene.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Life Cycle,” September 28, 2018–March 3, 2019, at the Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles. Courtesy the artist and Marciano Art Foundation.Photo by Joshua White/


In 2013, the Marcianos took another step forward and bought the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple building on Wilshire Boulevard, with the idea of transforming it into a contemporary art foundation to make their now extensive collection of 1,500 paintings, sculptures, photographs, works on paper, installations, performances, films and digital works available to the public.

Louise Bourgeois, Pia Camil, Damien Hirst, Urs Fischer, Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, Gabriel Kuri, Ed Ruscha, Gerhard Richter, Gabriel Orozco and Ai Weiwei are some of the many artists whose work is regularly on view in the permanent exhibition.

Shown for the first time in Los Angeles at the Marciano Art Foundation, the sculptural installation “With All My Love For The Tulips, I Pray Forever” (2011) by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama offers an immersive experience, where oversize, flower-potted tulips made from fiberglass-reinforced plastic are painted with red dots that also cover the entirety of the floor, ceiling, and walls in a poetic and visually powerful way.

Photo: Joshua White


Temporary shows also regularly take place at the foundation, such as “Life Cycle” (2018) by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, on view through March 3. Featuring a massive installation in the form of a boat, with figures crafted from bamboo and silk, and 49 tons of individual porcelain sunflower seeds, this exhibition deals with the global refugee crisis and related human rights themes.

Thanks to its rich programming, the Marciano Art Foundation seeks to awaken interest in contemporary art and a better understanding of the social and political issues artists are addressing through their work.


Sun and Sand From Hawaii To Miami

Miami Makeover

After finishing the first phase of a renovation/redesign by San Francisco-based interior designer Nicole Hollis in 2018—complete with a stylish new wing sporting 85 guest rooms (for a total of 132), as well as a rooftop pool and sundeck, and bar/lounge—Kimpton Angler’s Hotel South Beach is preparing to debut its second and final phase later this spring.

Expect a clean and contemporary re-do of its original accommodations (some dating back to the 1930s) and a new Seawell Fish n’ Oyster restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Julian Garriga for this destination hotel located just steps from the Atlantic Ocean and Art Deco District.

“Since completing our 85-room addition last year, the positive praise from our guests has been overwhelming,” says GM Jacqueline Lejart. “These same sensibilities will carry over to our original lofts, villas and bungalows. Together, they will deliver an exceptional experience and an uncommon mix of accommodations unlike any other in South Beach.”


660 Washington Ave.

Above & Beyond

Beginning this summer, guests seeking an ultra-exclusive hotel experience with personalized service and privacy will find it at Waikiki’s new ESPACIO. Think nine floors, with each showcasing a three-bedroom suite offering a butler, Italian marble baths, a dry sauna, Jacuzzi on a beachfront lanai, full kitchen, and iPads to control lighting and temperature. Guests also will be privy to an on-site restaurant, and a rooftop infinity pool and spa.

“We’ve learned discerning guests value privacy and high-end design, while also desiring the comforts of home,” says Lesli Reynolds, Aqua-Aston’s senior vice president of operations. “Each guestroom takes up an entire floor and has been outfitted with elegant finishes.

Personal butler service ensures that anything guests need to feel more comfortable will be provided in a timely manner, and the spa and restaurant are poised to become sought-after destinations, with concepts and offerings not available elsewhere in Waikiki.”

Honolulu, Hawaii

Rothko Chapel An Intersection For Art & Spirituality

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela are towering figures in any context, but at Rothko Chapel, these crusaders of social justice and their work to advance human rights reverberate with both poignancy and uplift within the modern artworked walls of the Houston, Texas, institution.

And though Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was slain a few years prior to the Chapel’s opening in 1971, his memory looms particularly large here, embodied in the Barnett Newman sculpture outside its entrance, “Broken Obelisk,” which is dedicated to the legacy of the civil rights icon and his clarion call for equality.

That the octagonal Rothko Chapel is both poetic (like prayer itself) and platform (a place for addressing global issues of the day) is first a credit to its founders, philanthropists John and Dominque de Menil (of The Menil Collection, also in Houston), who smartly commissioned an artist to create it—prophet of abstract expressionism, Mark Rothko.

“Rothko’s goal was to create a space that was essentially a blank slate so that each individual person can come into and have a unique, personal experience,” says Rothko Chapel’s Caitlin Ferrell.

“With this in mind, I think that the space and the paintings are sacred to different people in different ways.” There are 14 site-specific paintings in all—three triptychs painted a striking black and blended with other hues and five walls of single paintings. “We consider the whole structure—art, architecture, building—a complete work of art,” says Ferrell.

Observed as such “it creates a spiritual and contemplative environment,” she adds. It is reported that Rothko’s ideas for the project clashed with that of original architect Philip Johnson, who envisioned more monumentality than Rothko’s want of a meditative space that would not distract from the art. Rothko went through a few more architects in his quest for perfection.


Of note, in 2001 Rothko Chapel was added to the National Register of Historic Places, more than two decades shy of being open 50 years. This speaks volumes to the Chapel’s significance beyond the nonphysical realm.

Oriented toward the tenets of the arts, spirituality, and human rights—the space is truly open; in architectural terms, expansively, and literally, to all people, of all faiths, every day of the year. Public programming supports its advocacy and education and also provides opportunities for one to experience an array of spiritual traditions through meditative practices, interfaith conversations, and immersive artistic experiences.

In preparation for its 50th anniversary in 2021, Rothko Chapel will undergo substantial renovations to restore the Chapel building and its grounds starting in March and continuing through December of this year.

New construction projects will include a Visitor Welcome House to better serve the Chapel’s growing numbers of international guests—over 100,000 visitors from more than 110 countries are received annually, according to Ferrell. Not all are spiritually inclined—many are art lovers on a pilgrimage of another sort.

“We fall into the same vein of immersive, spiritual art experiences as places like the Matisse Chapel in Vence, France, and the Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp [chapel], in France, both of which were inspirations for the de Menil’s in the creation of the Rothko Chapel.” All are examples of the highest form of artistic collaboration.


Arcana bookstore - featured in South Bay DIGS Magazine

Arcana Bookstore: Lovers of Art, Architecture & Design

Lovers of art, architecture, and design—and really just a fabulous bookstore—know one local shop as sure as their own shadow.

Arcana: Books on the Arts, a lodestar for Los Angeles’ creative community and an exquisitely curated emporium populated with aesthetes and iconoclasts like Diane Keaton, which touted Arcana as a favorite in Parade.

In combing through the store’s vast selection of current and out-of-print art books, from modern and contemporary art to photography, design, architecture, and film, the place is one big expression of that intangible Keaton effect—top to bottom cool.

The engine of Arcana is founder Lee Kaplan, who established the store in 1984 and runs it with his wife and co-owner, Whitney. For years, Kaplan’s local book business that could was located on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, then he picked up stakes and moved the store to its current home in the historic Helms Bakery Building in Culver City.

Substantially larger than the original Arcana at 4,500 square feet, this is a space that breathes. Unlike your average Barnes & Noble, there is no homogeneous tone, the sense that one will find nothing particularly interesting or inspiring beyond the books. No cloistering, no clutter, no tripping over people in the aisles. Arcana, rather, is like its inventory and clientele—design-forward.

Working in collaboration with Venice-based design/build studio Landlord, L.A. architectural practice Johnston Marklee designed Arcana’s current space, which it appointed with the store’s signature tall black-coated metal shelves to create what architect Mark Lee calls a “forest of books.”

These stunning pieces give the space an industrial edge that blends seamlessly with a clean-lined sense of function. Credit this arrangement to an expansiveness that one is likely to associate with one of the city’s modernist masterpieces than a retail concept.

Arcana not only echoes the tenets of contemporary design, it is an extension of contemporary design itself.

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