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  • Abbot Kinney: Where Art & Culture Meet Beach Town


    Venice, California

    Known as the "Coney Island of the Pacific" in the early 1900's, the area we now know as Venice used to be called Ocean Park until Abbot Kinney took charge of city politics and changed the name in 1911. After traveling the world, Kinney settled along the coast of Southern California in 1880 where he eventually set out to create a place grounded in art and culture. When lecturers and performers failed to create a cultural mecca, he decided to focus on the character of the inhabitants of the then "Ocean Park", which were beach-goers and summer vacationers. In 1906 an area was built that patterned itself after the amusement thoroughfares of the great 19th and 20th century expositions. It featured foreign exhibits, amusements, and freak shows.

    Just a hop, skip and a jump from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, 20 minutes north in Los Angeles, Venice no longer has the amusement pier or freak shows, but there's plenty to keep you entertained along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Don't be fooled by this laid back beach town. Contemporary style has emerged all over this quaint town, from restaurants to boutiques and even a pet shop. 

    Urbanic products

    Urbanic is a hip little stationary shop with some of the most unique designs you'll find. They also sell accessories, gift wrapping and some of the best design magazines and books. Like many other small businesses in the area they participate in "First Fridays," where local businesses stay open late the first Friday of every month. This is a way for business owners to mingle with the locals and tourists alike, support each other and create a small town feel in the heart one of the largest cities.

    Axe exterior

    Axe interior

    Axe is a beautifully designed contemporary restaurant that also happens to have amazing food. Highly recommended, this ethical eatery nourishes its patrons with healthy food while providing a chic Scandinavian-style interior. The layout is very open with linear furniture and concrete flooring. Round pendant lights add a little warmth to this otherwise modern space.

    Modern Dog exterior

    Modern Dog interior

    If you own dogs, Modern Dog is the place for you. Bright, bold colors drape the walls and the accessories in this cool boutique. While providing excellent customer service, this shop features dog clothes, spa items, deluxe beds, and many premium brands of dog food. Oh, and it's a pet friendly shop of course!

    Undiscovered exterior

    Undiscovered interior

    Undiscovered was founded by Nilou Ghodsi (who also owns nearby clothing boutique Heist). This eclectically modern space features stylish decor and provides items for the home as well as the closet, while also housing an art gallery upstairs. It's a one-stop-shop that is sure to help furnish both you and your home.

    Ghodsi's original boutique, Heist (below) is a trendy clothing store with contemporary decor. Modern pendant lights and mid-century furniture accent this shop perfectly without taking away from the clothes.

    Heist interior

    Whether you live in Los Angeles or you're visiting from out of town, be sure to visit Venice and experience Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a beach town full of contemporary style and easy going locals. You're sure to eat well, furnish your wardrobe, style your pets and even peruse art galleries. But don't forget to leave time for a stroll on the beach.

    Image credit: Caviar & Cashmere, Thigh Brown, Yelp, Yo Venice

  • Chrome in the Home


      Kitchen Design and Chrome Cabinetry

    Do you find yourself being drawn to shiny objects? Chrome finishes have been popular for quite a while and never seem to go out of style. They add a reflective surface to the design and shout - "I am modern!" When I think of chrome compared to other finishes I think - fresh, new, and modern. The silver hue of chrome can easily blend into any color scheme and is also a great color combination when paired with bright colors.

    Chrome Light Fixtures and Chrome Mirrors

    Bring chrome into your own home with the products featured above.

    Image: emmas designblogg

  • Portable Beach House Design: Permanant Summer


    beach house design

    Why not hold on to Summer as long as possible and just follow it?! This portable beach house design will let you do just that!

    window wall

    Designed by Crosson, Clarke, Carnachan Architects, this home was made to rest within the coastal erosion zone, where all buildings must be removable. So, the "hut" is designed on two thick wooden sleds for movement.

    modern living room

    The interiors, like the architecture, were kept simple. But no space should go without modern seating and simple home decor.

    ocean view

    What a view! And to think, you could actually turn this home for a different view if you really wanted...

    portable beach house design

    And away they go...

    Images: Arch Daily

  • Modern Wood Paneling: Adding Texture To Any Space


    modern wood paneling

    Modern wood paneling has no doubt progressed since the 70's, proving it's a trend that will be around for a while! We love the use of wood paneling on walls, ceilings, floors, and all-over because it has the ability to soften up a space. The white wood planks on the walls of  this kitchen (above) create a very clean, natural feel. The oiled white oak floor warms up the space and the use of the same material over the hood is a feature design element. See how even this little accent of the natural wood on the walls can make such a big statement.

    plywood ceiling panels

    The marine plywood panels on the ceiling create a unifying element within this space. The use of wood on the ceiling allows you to use tile on the floor without the space feeling too cold.  

    reclaimed wood panels

    Reclaimed wood walls are a very popular trend right now. They mix so beautifully with bold colors and industrial elements. The use of industrial wall sconces against reclaimed wood is the perfect pairing.


    modern wall sconce



    rustic bathroom design

    Wrapping the walls and ceiling of this rustic bathroom in un-milled, reclaimed wood is a great way to achieve that rustic modern cabin feel. The use of light wood planks and the light concrete floor feels bright and airy, creating a beautiful contrast with the black vanity.  

     metal ceiling tiles

    Today, restaurant design uses reclaimed wood to achieve an industrial modern feel. It's a trendy look, creates a cozy atmosphere, and also helps absorb sound. Bronze pendant lights really are the perfect metallic accent in any modern, industrial interior. Gunmetal accents also work perfectly with this industrial modern feel.

     industrial modern floor lamp


    Whether you're going for a modern-rustic or chic-industrial, incorporating wood paneling or reclaimed wood into your space can provide you layers of textures that bring softness and warmth. It's a trend that will definitely be around for awhile!

    Images: Style Files, Est Magazine, Remodelista, Yatzer

  • Architecture as Art Performance: Burden's Small Skyscraper


    installation art performance by chris burden

    Despite the playfulness of his current Small Skyscraper architecture/art installation, make no mistake: it's a burden to be Chris Burden. 

    He's been shot in the arm, nailed to a VW beetle, electrocuted and crucified. He's even taken out prime time ads in Los Angles and New York. He's done it all throughout the 70s and 80s in the name of performance art.

    chris burden lacma streetlights

    More recently, Burden has focused on sculptural installations. His Urban Light  installation (pictured above) features 202 found street lights, and is a permanent fixture (pun definitely intended) at LACMA (DIY tip: you can shop Euro Style Lighting's selection of post lights if you'd like to build your own Urban Light replica).

    However, it's Burden's current work, Small Skyscraper (pictured at the top of this post and below), that finally compelled me to write about the artist. 

    art installation old town pasadena

    On view at Pasadena's One Colorado, Small Skyscraper is a playful adaption to a Los Angeles County building code loophole (since closed) that allows buildings to be built up to 400 sq. ft. and 35 feet high without permits. This fun, if a bit impractical, four story piece actually combines for an impressive 1600 sq. ft. of floor space. Small Skyscraper was inspired by a loophole Burden first discovered in 1991 when building his studio on rugged terrain in an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County. The installation itself may be up to code; his documentation of it below, however, is probably less than sufficient for the permit process:

    chris burden artist sketches

    Work like Burden's is hard to commodify, and yet in an age when museum attendees are asked to exit through the gift shop, I feel like I should leave you with something to purchase. So in that spirit, the following are a few floor lamps that, unlike Small Skyscraper, are nearly certain to conform to building codes for the foreseeable future.

    black modern floor lamps

    Possini Euro Three Tier Wood Slat Frosted Glass Floor Lamp (left)Rattan Rectangular Column 40" High Floor Lamp (right)

    See Small Skyscraper between now and November 11, 2012, at One Colorado in Pasadena. The exhibition is presented by the Armory Center for the Arts.

    Images: Architect's Newspaper, Telegraph, Grupa O.K.

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