Written by Constance Dunn | Photography by Paul Jonason
When you walk down Catalina Avenue, in the heart of Riviera Village, there’s a store that’s hard to miss—not just for its striped black-and-tan awning, but for the bounty of furniture, lighting and home accessories on display in its big picture windows.
So eye-catching and polished are these scenes that it makes complete sense that behind Fowler & Moore At Home are two native South Bay interior designers, Chris Fowler and Suzy Moore, who, as a team have been creating elegant residences for over 20 years.
TASTE ON DISPLAY
“We had a room full of stuff that wasn’t being seen,” says Moore. “So we decided, hmm, it’s time to open up a store.” Aside from inspiring those looking to revamp their home, the store is a touch-and-feel gallery for customers and designers who want to see how a given piece translates in the flesh, versus just gazing at it on a website or in a catalog. “It allows designers to come in and experience how a piece functions in reality.”
The team scours design shows—Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, and shows in Atlanta and High Point Market in North Carolina are favorites—to keep their creative vision sharp and to bring in new items, from lighting and pillows to furniture, fabrics and original works of art.
While the aesthetic of the store leans towards the sophisticated end—with individual set-ups or “vignettes,” as the designers call them, charmingly layered, projecting a classic look that telegraphs that they’ll outlast more than a few fleeting design trends—the atmosphere is welcoming and helpful. The ladies, after all, are in this to share their love of design with others.
COME TO BROWSE-SIT AND TOUCH, TOO
“We get to play with design,” says Fowler, when asked about what she finds most satisfying about having the store. “We take a visual from our minds and make it happen. It’s very rewarding to see how we put things together—and the response from the public.”
The store is so expertly staged—layered with high-end, stylish pieces, including one of a kind items—that it’s worth it to take the time to look around at the individual scenes. Once you start looking, you can’t help but see more. “You see people’s eyes\ dart around the room,” Moore says, describing a typical reaction. And despite the elegant look of the place, the designers and their staff encourage visitors to engage with the vignettes. “We urge people to pick things up,” adds Moore.
Not to miss is a stop at the store during the holidays, when the designers’ love of the season expertly extends to Fowler & Moore At Home, which gets decked out with all the trimmings. (The designers also host popular holiday how-to seminars. “It really evolved,” says Moore of their holiday offerings. “Now we have a big Christmas following.”)
No matter the season, if you stop into the store looking for something specific, and don’t see it on the showroom floor, you can always ask staff for the book that holds images of the designers’ entire stock—not all pieces are on display, and many are stored at a nearby warehouse. “We don’t just present one look, says Moore. “We present all these different options, because we want someone to fall in love with their house.”
Fowler & Moore at Home
1721 S. Catalina Avenue
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
310.378.1013 | FowlerandMoore.com
Written by Michelle Lyn | Photography by Pascal Shirley
The origin Rose Cafe bloomed in Venice in 1979. Over 30 years later, Sprout L.A. Restaurant Collaboration and chef-owner Jason Neroni partnered to shutter and revamp Rose Avenue’s eponymous cafe and restaurant, keeping original owners Kamal Kapur and Manhar Patel involved with the iconic restaurant.
Since its humble beginnings, Rose Cafe has lived —and thrived—through gentrification of a neighborhood that went from gritty and bohemian to bohemian-chic. Given the gallery-like atmosphere of the space, the cafe instantly doubled as an art gallery, paying homage to local artists and Venice history, quickly establishing Rose Cafe as a Venice landmark and gathering spot for the creative community.
For decades, Rose Cafe employed a long-time dedicated staff that served the same devout locals over the years. It might be too early to determine if the café’s original fans are as enamored with the reimagined version, but there’s no denying that the remodel has produced a stunning result.
The recent renovation may have required Rose Cafe to close doors for nine months, but the transformation is undeniable. Designed by local Art District Company, Studio UNLTD, the ample space includes indoor and outdoor dining with a beer garden, a full market, bakery, Verve Coffee bar, and a 40-foot cocktail bar.
Paying homage to its predecessor, the cafe’s new owners retained the rose painted on the wall of the entrance, giving long-time guests a sense of familiarity and memory. The space continues to celebrate community art, featuring original works from local artists. Beyond that, the design mimics the evolution of Venice over the past 30 years, juxtaposing smooth and rough textures throughout the restaurant with various tiles, rope, cement and white oak.
From his first job working in the kitchen at Disneyland’s exclusive Club 33, Neroni has come a long way. The SoCal native went on to earn his culinary stripes in both New York (in reputable kitchens like Le Cirque, Blue Hill and Essex House) and Europe (alongside some of Spain’s best chefs at Arzak, Mugaritz and El Bulli). Today Neroni’s menu focuses on local cuisine with an international influence from his travels.
Menu highlights for breakfast include Charred Avocado Toast with eggs, lemon, grilled scallion and jalapeño marmalade; and Pumpkin Pancakes with chocolate chips, bacon crumble and maple syrup. Lunch fare appeals to lighter appetites with the Winter Tabbouleh Salad with squash, pomegranate, feta cheese and pistachios, but also caters to those looking for something bolder, like Smoked Bacon Ramen with chicken, noodles, egg, nori and chili paste. Now open for dinner, diners can start out with a dozen Fanny Bay oysters, Crispy Head Cheese or an interesting blend of Crispy Octopus with pepperoni gremolata and cocoa beans. The dinner menu also features vegetarian options such as Hearth Roasted Fennel; rotisserie grilled items like Crispy Suckling Pig; a “butchery” section offering Fried Rabbit Mortadella or Foie Gras Paté with cocoa and grilled pears, as well as pizza and pasta.
By all accounts, the newest iteration of Rose Cafe is blossoming as modern, sophisticated and enticing, further upping the ante of Venice’s revival.
220 Rose Avenue
Venice, CA 90291
310.399.0711 | RoseCafeVenice.com
Written by Constance Dunn | Photography by Paul Jonason
In the early 1970s, Gary Bernstein opened a plant store in Redondo Beach along Pacific Coast Highway. He decorated the place with antiques and crossed his fingers. “Pretty soon,” he recalls, “we were selling more antiques than plants.” So, as the market had spoken, Bernstein answered by ditching the plants and filling his store with antiques and collectibles. Forty years later, Antique Corral stands as a South Bay bastion of one-of-kind delights in what one might consider an increasingly homogenized design landscape.
The store’s three big rooms are pleasantly packed with sculptures and clocks, paintings and collectibles and stately Victorian furniture that mingles with Gothic, French Empire and Arts and Crafts pieces. It’s an ideal destination for both the keen-eyed designer who knows how to put items together, and the fledgling collector, new homemaker, or someone in the process of cultivating their own eye while discovering what they love. And if one is curious about an item or wants to know if a specific style or vintage is in stock, feel free to fire off any questions to Bernstein. (Here’s betting he’ll know the answer.) An unassuming man whose uniform is usually a t-shirt, jeans and running shoes, Bernstein is laconic and pleasant, and with a few words can download the essentials of any piece in the house. This encyclopedic recall is a good thing, since his store is as diverse as it is vast.
Walls that are lined with original canvases of 20th-century landscape painters like Conrad Buff and Anton Gutknecht are then interspersed with authentic Americana signs (think Quaker State Oil, for instance), some in porcelain. A row of vintage hardbound books, art unto themselves, is situated next to a pair of clear, Mid-Century acrylic stands. There’s a Tiffany-style panel lamp perched a step or two from a 1930s slot machine, which is neighbor to an ornate cut-glass bowl rimmed in silver hailing from the American Brilliant period of the late-1800s and early 1900s, explains Bernstein. And even more. “It’s Libbey with the sword,” he says, explaining how the famed glassmaking firm Libbey used a sword in its logo for a specific number of years, the key to tracing the vintage of this piece. “Guys actually went blind carving these,” he adds.
On the day of our visit, Persian rugs decorate the entrance, along with a hefty teak chest lined in aromatic camphor wood, made in Hong Kong and sold in England. “It was a hot thing back in the 1940s and 1950s, the English really liked them,” Bernstein points out. Chalk up the eclecticism of Antique Corral to the fact that a great deal of its stock has been acquired via lot or estate sales. “We get probably 75 percent of our inventory from people bringing it in and selling it to us,” says Bernstein. That’s where the fun comes in, and not just for the customer on the prowl for a new pulse raising painting, piece of furniture or other acquisition, but for Bernstein as well, who, decades into owning the place, still exalts in the treasure hunting aspect of his trade. “Every day it’s something different,” he says. “You never know what’s going to happen, and you never know what you’re going to get.”
A recent red-letter acquisition, for instance, is a turn-of-the-century dining set by R.J. Horner, a Victorian furniture maker from Manhattan whose firm was famed for its exquisite woods and intricate carvings, that Bernstein sold for $40,000. Then there are items that sell within hours of Bernstein setting them out, like a pair of vintage pinball machines or a piece of Arts and Crafts furniture. “I had it for like, an hour, before a customer snapped it up,” says Bernstein of the latter item, adding that this is not unusual for merchandise from the high-demand era.
Despite his depth of knowledge and years in the antique business, Bernstein isn’t keen on doling out advice on which styles, time periods or artisans a customer should favor. When asked, though, he offers the following: “Buy what you like. Don’t just buy it because someone says, ‘Oh, that’s the hot thing.’ Everybody has their own tastes, it’s what makes the world go around.”
145 Pacific Coast Highway
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Written by Constance Dunn | Photography by Paul Jonason
If you like the idea of taking a local breather, ideally near the water and definitely with beer involved, head to the northern tip of the King Harbor boardwalk. There at Naja’s Place you’ll find plenty of your South Bay compadres taking it easy, aided by 88 exotic beers and ales on tap (many from nearby breweries), flaming Buffalo wings and nicely stacked burgers.
If it’s daytime, the open-front venue offers plenty of sights, from local fisherman hauling in their catches to kayaking tourists paddling about and flocks of seagulls swirling in the air. Sunset is poetic, when the changing light casts harbor waters aglow. If staying after dark, expect the live band to start warming up around 9 p.m., unless it’s a weekend day, when the schedule might begin with breakfast before moving on to football and live music.
154 International Boardwalk,
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Next time you’re craving a plate of piquant chicken curry, lip-smacking lamb chops or a steaming bowl of flavorful pho with all the fixings—including sweet basil, sliced chili peppers and a fistful of fresh bean sprouts—you might consider stopping by Pho Show.
It’s the second location of this popular casual eatery, with the original on Sepulveda Boulevard in Culver City. Service is friendly and swift, and the industrial-esque dining room and covered sidewalk patio are routinely filled with a broad swath of locals, from cops and young couples to big families with little kids in tow. There’s takeout, too.
One of the few late-night spots in the South Bay, Pho Show is open until the stroke of midnight six days a week, closing at 10 p.m. on Sundays
1617 S Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach CA 90277
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
Written by Constance Dunn
Photography by Paul Jonason
The creative roots of Artistic Habitat reach deep into Mexico, where owners Monica and Carlos Muller were born and raised, and from where much of their standout collection of home decor originates. A display of eye-grabbing wood tables handcrafted in Mexico City—some 20-feet in length and all bursting with sculpted, organic character—meet you when you stroll into the couple’s new South Bay showroom. Then come colorful pillows, hand-loomed by women in a Yucatan Peninsula co-op, and bold glasswork from Orfeo Quagliata, the Mexico City-based son of famed artist Narcissus Quagliata.
“In Mexico, we were constantly exposed to the artisanship that is an innate part of the culture,” explains Monica Muller. “We are preserving this workmanship through a modern interpretation of traditional techniques. We have always felt that there’s a certain dignity in preserving handmade products. It’s nice knowing you own something that’s completely unique.”
Lest you think this design team, which includes daughter Katja, son Alexis and daughter-in-law Andrea, are stylistically wed to one part of the world, a look around their roomy two-story showroom—steps from the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Catalina Avenue, near the border of Hermosa and Redondo Beach—reveals an aesthetic fed from many corners of the globe. “We’re made in Mexico with foreign parts,” says Carlos Muller with a laugh. “Our family comes from a long line of nomads and pioneers, traveling from Europe, United States, Cuba and Argentina, and back around.”
It makes sense, then, that Artistic Habitat offers European antiquities and super-mod French kitchens, along with velvet pouf chairs and smartly upholstered couches by sustainable, LA furniture makers Cisco Brothers. My eye flits to vintage Hollywood studio lights affixed to the ceiling. Below them is a tapestry bench, custom-upholstered with an antique Middle Eastern rug.
“We have friends and family that have been in the business for over thirty years,” notes Monica. “Perfecting and keeping alive old trades, and employing master artisans who meticulously handcraft every piece we bring to you.” Items at Artistic Habitat are distinct, yet the collection is so well-honed that words like “eclectic”
or “funky” never come to mind. The showroom feels thoughtfully individualistic and of-the-moment, or perhaps a few moments beforehand.
The second floor is home to a design studio, “a creative environment where projects can be developed,” says Monica. There’s plenty to stoke your creativity, starting with a wall of hand-distressed wood flooring. “The Sun-Bleached is the most popular in this area,” says Carlos, pointing to a creamy vanilla slab with subtle graining.
The Muller’s, longtime Palos Verdes residents, tell me they select items with the local area in mind. “Many of the homes in the South Bay are walking distance to the ocean,” notes Monica. “The culture is very beach and nature-oriented. We know there is great pride of ownership in this area, and people have an understanding of what it means to have a table made from the slab of a hurricane-tumbled log that’s 100 years old, or floors made from wood that’s hand-aged and finished.”
Wood plays a central theme at Artistic Habitat. “All of our woods are recovered, reclaimed or originate from reforested plantations across Latin America,” says Carlos. “And sourced from Taracea, the factory of our Mexico City partners.” Notable pieces include a grand mirror inlaid with six types of wood, including deep-hued rosewood and orange-tinged Bubinga, and Parquet floors inlaid with regal European patterns that take a master artisan two hours per square foot to complete. I sink into a mod lounging chair that looks as if it were sculpted from a hunk of driftwood, yet feels as comfortable as a La-Z-Boy.
The Muller’s emphasize Artistic Habitat as a place where folks can get a shot of design inspiration or start moving on a project. This open-door policy extends from architects, designers and project managers to homeowners who casually pop in for advice. “We invite people to use our facilities, interact with our products and samples and just be creative,” says Monica. “Remodeling can be overwhelming and stressful, but creating a place to live in is like curating your personal museum. It’s important to find pieces that make you feel something, and create spaces that give you the feeling you’re right where you belong.”
705 N Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, CA 90277 | 310.937.2000 | ArtisticHabitat.com
South Bay DIGS stops by popular decor destination Fringe to chat with co-owner Debbie Talosi.
Where do you find such cool, eclectic things?
We [Talosi and co-owner Laura Hofmann] buy from local artists. We attend trade shows, too, but out of town. We add our own twist to things. I was a buyer and a jewelry designer, and did handbags and clothing, too.
The two of us even had a belt buckle company. We’ll be on a buying trip, turn to one another and say, ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ and then we add something unexpected to a chandelier.
How do you decide what to buy?
We buy what we love, not just what we think will sell. We offer things to spice up a house that you can’t find anywhere else. And you can find something for $1 or $1,000.
Is Fringe coming to Manhattan Beach?
Yes, and we’re going to have great stuff. As you can see [Talosi waves to a stack of boxes], I’ve been buying for it.
Everyone’s so friendly and down-to-earth here.
Everyone who works here is a friend. We put people at ease.
Customers don’t think ‘Uh-oh, here comes a salesperson,’ and want to run out the front door.
When not tending the store, where do you hang out?
We all go to Zazou Restaurant next door. It’s like a joke. We walk out the door and automatically turn left.
AS TOLD TO CONSTANCE DUNN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAUL JONASON