In this episode of DIGStv, we take a look at architecture from three very different perspectives: Architects, Realtors and the Owners. How does a home become a work of art? How do you preserve them for generations to come? We take you through the stories of three iconic architectural homes, and discuss the history of each home and the people involved, including Edward Niles, Zoltan Pali and Dion Neutra.
We also talk with Realtors Cosby Doe of Crosby Doe Associates and Ari Afshar of Compass Realty about the challenges and what it takes to sell architecturally significant homes to the right buyer who will help take initiative to preserve each home as a piece of art.
A local design-build duo plants a hub of modern design in an up-and-coming arts and design neighborhood in Hermosa
WRITTEN BY CONSTANCE DUNN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAUL JONASON
“I think there are memories attached to products, and it’s nice to have a product that you could potentially hand down to your kids. I think that’s been lost to an extent recently, and it’s a shame.”
It’s contractor Steve Reneker, who is one half of Hermosa Design in Hermosa Beach, a home design showroom that he and architect wife, Farnaz, opened in March. A stone’s throw from Valley Drive and Ardmore Avenue’s greenbelt, the fresh, airy space is staged with sleek furniture and lighting, streamlined kitchenware, home accessories and more.
The idea for Hermosa Design sprang from the Renekers’ community-minded desire to share a contemporary, clean-line aesthetic with fellow South Bay residents, their thinking being, “We have the space, so let’s turn it into a showroom slash gallery slash event space,’” says Farnaz, who is currently exhibiting the bold black-and-white documentary landscapes of Los Angeles photographer Eric J. Smith.
The aesthetically pleasing showroom is an eye-catching addition to the increasingly creative neighborhood. People slow down their cars for another look; pedestrians and bikers peer inside and pop in. Among the Renekers’ neighbors is an interior designer who has set up shop a few doors down. A surfboard shaper, a media production studio, and even a Buddhist center, are just steps away, and you can walk to the beach and Strand in less than 10 minutes.
Each item in the showroom has been carefully selected by the Renekers to meet their stringent, beach-conscious standards of longevity, performance and look. “I spend so much time looking for the right products for my projects,” says Farnaz. (She and Steve own design-build firm Studio Argente, where projects often focus on interior architecture, which involves “going into a gutted shell and re-building it from scratch,” and often includes interior design duties, too.) When Farnaz successfully finds a needle-in-a-haystack item after an exhaustive search, she’s all for sharing.
Take a sofa we sit on. Framed in teak and stainless steel, it looks so wholly designed for a sleek indoor setting that it’s surprising to learn that it’s actually an outdoor piece, right down to its waterproof fabric cushions. (Even if neglected, the teak will only become more beautiful over time.) Or the totable, flannel-top blankets rolled up on a nearby display; they are waterproof and perfect for the rigors of beach days and picnics. Unfurling a green blanket, Farnaz tells how she discovered the item on a trip to Sweden last summer. “I thought, ‘Why don’t we have these?’ They’re inexpensive. They’re totally functional. But I’ve never seen them before.”
The Reneker family, children included, test drive items through their own beach-centric South Bay lifestyle. “We spend a lot of time at the beach,” says Farnaz, who takes care to showcase items that will functionally and aesthetically suit those with a like-minded lifestyle. “If it’s not going to work here, we’re not going to carry it.”
Items are also chosen for their ability to stylishly conserve space, and in many cases, serve more than one purpose. Farnaz shows off wall-mounted contraptions from the UK that quickly stow away bikes, in addition to a wall-mounted credenza, plus a streamlined wine rack and chic magazine rack. “Functional but sculptural,” she points out. Many of the kitchen items stealthily offer multiple uses as well. A line of porcelain kitchenware, cheerfully striped and visually au courant, turns out to be a line that was designed in the 1950s, and can be used in the freezer, refrigerator, oven or table. “You can bake it and freeze it,” she says.
Then there’s the longevity factor; the Renekers support brands that instill this as a core characteristic of their design. Steve points to modish looking Danish pendant lamp. “That is the traditional light that was given to the bride when she got married,” he explains. “It was the Danish gift, and something she would have for her entire life.”
One of the most important filters for products carried in the Hermosa Design showroom is experiential; if, Steve explains, “an item makes an experience better—whether it be a bonfire or dinner with friends.”
618 Cypress Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254