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los angeles design guide

by Grace Bonney

Written by Lizzie Garrett + Edited by Design*Sponge

When I was talking to Grace about the idea of an L.A. design guide I was moaning about how hard it is to compartmentalize this sprawling city into neat little neighborhoods, and while some, like Silver Lake, are easy to define— the one I live in has no distinct name (it’s between Hollywood and West Hollywood, usually I just say my street.) No distinct name is a fair trade, however, for the best design shopping in town. What follows is a guide to the must-visit design stores in Los Angeles, including four great streets from my “Los Angeles” neighborhood and the best of Silver Lake. Enjoy. [This list will be updated frequently so please feel free to comment below or email d*s your suggestions]

Getting There: For public transportation options, check out mta.net.

W. 3rd Street: If you have to pick one street for walking, eating, and shopping, the strip of 3rd between Crescent Heights and La Cienega is a no-brainer. It’s colorful, sunny, and has a great energy about it. Here are the must-see design shops on 3rd:

  • OK Store: OK, quite rightly, has the reputation of being the mecca of LA design stores— maybe because the owner, Larry Schaffer, seems to be known by everyone in town. The store has a little bit of everything good, and a wide range of blown glass, rare design books, japanese tea sets, and Tair Mercier placemats.
  • Zipper: An excellent place to go for gifts, Zipper mixes elegant with whimsy.
  • New Stone Age: From its edited selection of John Derian trays to the antique bird cages—it makes you feel like you’re in a 19th Century science lab—I love it. [Photo above from New Stone Age]
  • Plastica: All plastic, all the time (bento boxes, woven plastic rugs, Marimekko trays)—this shop shows the world not all plastic in L.A. comes from Dr. 90210.
  • Flight 001: Anything you need to travel comfortably and stylishly under one fuselage—and the best selection of luggage tags around.
  • Room Service: Located way east on 3rd is Room Service; a Poppy/funky home goods store heavy on the loft style.

[Nosh: One of the most popular places to eat on 3rd is Toast, especially for brunch because it has plenty of outdoor seating—but hardly the best food. Try the new Little Next Door Market—a French deli with excellent baguettes and soups or Joan’s On Third, the local’s favorite.]

Beverly Blvd: Parallel to 3rd, and just one block north, Beverly is not only the new restaurant row—it boasts a sprinkling of design shops, including two of my favorites: Zelen Home and Ige Designs. Here are the shops to visit when you’re cruising on Beverly:

  • Ige: Helene Ige, famous for her pillows and mobiles, has a store that I could spend hours in. Last time I was
    there I bought a tiny plastic lobster with bobbleing pinchers that sits on my stovetop.
  • Zelen Home: Zelen is a little shop full of beautiful curiosities, most with an emphasis on the natural world. Here is where you find the things everyone will comment on, and no one will have.
  • Modernica: I think of it as DWR’s arch enemy! I love Modernica because you can custom build an Eames fiberglass chair in any color, base or height you want. Herman Miller stamp? We don’t need no stinking stamp.
  • REHAB Vintage Interiors: Fantastic office furniture with a selection of vintage (Steel Case) and modern metal.
  • Emmerson Troop & Orange: These two stores (right next door from each other) both offer a selection of vintage goods, mostly furniture, that will knock your socks off, unfortunately the prices won’t.
  • Shelter: Inspired by mid-century design, they call their furniture and accessories “high-end basics” and I agree.
  • Twentieth: The closest thing to a Moss in Los Angeles, Twentieth focuses soley on high-end design.

[Nosh: BLD has a blueberry ricotta pancake that will bring you one step closer to heaven as well as an out-of-this-world fried egg sandwich.]

Melrose Ave: Just one more block north from Beverly lies perhaps one of the most well-known streets in the city. East of Fairfax, Melrose is full of clothing stores, head shops, costume stores, sneaker stores (read: Von Dutch, Johnny Rockets, and that place that sells herbal ecstasy); but West of Fairfax caters to a more sophisticated palate—(read: Stella McCartney, Diane Von Furstenberg, Fred Segal and Marc Jacobs). Most of these stores are not unique to L.A., so I wont go into too much detail. Oh, and rumor has it Murray Moss is opening a West Coast Moss sometime in 2007 on Melrose Place.

  • The Rug Company: Designer rugs at designer prices.
  • Paul Smith: I love going into the Paul Smith store to check out their coffee table books, Deadly Squire merch, Aalto vases, and other designy items.
  • Jonathan Adler: Where would we be these past ten years with out JA?
  • TableArt: Just over a year old now, Tart has become synonymous with hip tableware (think Bodo Sperelin and Ted Mueling) in L.A.
  • Zero Minus Plus at Fred Segal (8100 Melrose Avenue): If you can handle it, Fred Segal has home store that has a great selection of picture
    frames, coffee table books, and home office goods.
  • Marc Jacobs Home: His first shipment flew out of the store faster than most people could even get a glimpse. Perhaps
    his collaboration with Waterford will stick around a little longer.
  • Soolip Paperie & Press: Excellent selection of stationary and cards.
  • Fitzsu Society: Carlo Alessi, Marcel Wanders, Kaj Franck, Phillipe Starck, Marc Newson, and Michael Graves all living in
    harmony under one roof. I love this store because it melds together several decades and still maintains a current-as-ever vibe.

[Nosh: Urth Caffé: is a casual lunch spot with excellent organic coffee, tamales, and salads. M-Café de Chaya boasts an all macrobiotic menu— order the organic French fries, trust me.]

La Brea Ave: Most of the action on La Brea is on the East side of the street, you’ll find some great little stores to pop into, an artsy
movie theatre, a vintage sunglass store that is unreal—no really: the have mirrored white Rossignol aviators from the 1980s, and a general youthful edginess to the atmosphere.

  • Maison Midi: A must for Francophiles, the imports like Perrier glassware and Lagiole knives are top notch. Conveniently a connecting doorway will lead you right into American Rag for some designer denim.
  • Volcom: Occasionally the Volcom store, which blends artistic expression and retail seamlessly throughout their clothing
    opens it’s back room as a gallery to surfer/skater/snowboarder artists like Oska Wright and Kenton Parker, and those bros can paint, man!
  • Homework: Homework balances whimsical design with modern staples and just as important— no pretense anywhere.
  • Landon Cole Furniture: Along with Landon’s custom furniture (much of it rich dark woods) he sells original photography and paintings in the store.
  • Diamond and Foam Fabrics: Interior designers swear by this place and I have to say it’s more fabric than the eye can see—so go with something in mind or you’ll be there for
  • Pulp: Off beat office supplies, beautiful wrapping paper and the best greeting cards are why I am there before every holiday and birthday.

[Nosh: Pop into Cube, for an artisinal cheese plate
or charcuterie assortment, some pasta, a pizza, or a just a great salad. It is one of the best bangs for the buck I know of in this city (besides the Taco truck next to the car wash). Or, for an almost guaranteed celeb citing check out Café Midi, which is connected to the home store Maison Midi, and has a killer croque madame. For a great drink and some goat cheese fondue keep walking South down to Luna Park]

Silver Lake: For a more hipster (L.A.’s version of Williamsburg) experience head east about 15 minutes to Silver Lake, home to rockers
like Beck, Rooney, Karen O, Pavement and a few design stores you don’t want to miss.

  • A+R: Hands down my favorite design store on the East side. It’s one of those places where you say, “I like everything in here.”
  • Yolk: The place to find unusual gifts, items that are only carried by independent contractors. An indie design store in Silver Lake? No way!
  • Reform School: Opened last Fall to rave reviews not only because their products are great finds, but most of them are environmentally-friendly.

[Nosh: Gingergrass: Fresh Vietnamese food with a modern interior—their imperial rolls are reason enough to make the
drive, or even rent an apartment in Silver Lake.]

This article was written by Lizzie Garrett and Edited by Design*Sponge. Lizzie Garrett is an L.A.-based freelance writer who has written for Los Angeles Magazine, Bon Appétit, and edits a design blog called DESIGNwatcher.com

Suggested For You


  • That’s it?! What about Rubbish on Silver Lake Blvd.? It’s right across the street from Yolk and is where Kelly Wearstler often seeks inspiration. Plus there’s Kohlman and Quinn just down Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park with their refurbished vintage pieces and kitschy art collection. And then what about Walnut Wallpaper on Beverly Blvd.? It’s only the best stock of wallpaper in Los Angeles! Do I need to mention the Westside, too? Turquoise, Elizabeth Paige Smith, Patio Culture, French 50s60s70s, etc.

  • After I hit up Yolk, I have to go to Monkeyhouse, too. It’s the kind of store that gets my daughter interested in art. It’s mostly collectible/funky toys and books, but they have rotating art shows, as well.
    Oh, and for better service and a smaller bill, Pho Cafe just down the road on Sunset, is a good alternative to Gingergrass. The ambience is stripped-down, but there’s great food and great people-watching.

    And don’t sleep on Los Feliz! Atwater Village is coming up this year, too. Watch for it.

  • What an excellent list… I’m about to pass it along to my pals in LA. I was really blown away by the great stores selling design-y things in LA. OK was way better than OK, it was awesome. They’ve curated an absolutely amazing collection of books there.

    I also loved the shops in Venice along Abbott Kinney. A small Japanese shop called Tortoise made me open my wallet more than once, and also the cafe Jin is a good stop for beautifully designed treats.

  • to all the “what about”s, please see the beginning of the post where we said this was the beginning of what would be a larger list. we couldn’t possibly do all of LA right away…we’ll be adding shops as we go and rest assured your suggestions are being heard loud and clear ;)


  • Wonderful! So many favorites here.

    I couldn’t quite tell whether or not this blog has been updated recently, or if further updates are still planned. But if so I’d like add Ventura Blvd to the list. There are some great little (and not so little) shops in the valley, too!

  • ive been looing for a pair of those rossignol aviators for an age. i used to own a pair before i accidentally drove over them and through mysterious circumstances they were thrown away..
    any chance you could email me the name of the shop that sells them? it would be greatly appreciated, my email is mark.von.roy@gmai.com

  • I’ve just ordered The Most Gorgeous Hollywood Regency Outdoor Dining Suite and Sun lounges from Room Service, Thank you lizzie!!!

  • Abbott Kinney Blvd is the perfect little neighborhood for design shops and boutiques and should definitely be on the next list. I would recommend “Urbanic Paper Boutique” as the must-visit.

  • What about Rowena Ave in Silverlake–This was the first street to have small shops and
    I was the second shope to open on the street. I have been at the same location for 11yrs. I sell Jewelry, non-leather handbags and small gifts. Please check out my blog to see what my shop looks like as well as my merchandise.
    Thanks – Edna Hart

  • Wanted to remind everyone of Nick Metropolis on S. La Brea. This place rocks!!!! If you are ever looking for vintage this is the place to get a deal on anything.

  • Hi, does anyone know a good place to have curtains made in LA? I’m new to town and would like to have a couple of valances made for my dining room. Alternatively, does anyone sell Marimekko valances? Thanks!

  • COLCHA on Abbot Kinney…not to mention everything that Culver City has to offer now…HD Buttercup has a ton of places to peruse. And, you can grab a bite at Father’s Office.

  • Floor Plan on 3rd Street is another great place to get furniture…they have a lot of interesting pieces, and many of them are Floor Plan originals!

  • What a lovely list !!
    I have been in LA now for 4 years and still discover the most wonderful little shops….

    Thanks so much for all the contributions of those who commented: I have to check it all out !

  • Oh my goodness. I”m heading to L.A with my best girl in a few weeks and I cannot WAIT to check out all these fabulous suggestions. Thank you!

  • Can any one recommend a great travel guide for LA, I don’t want the touristy stuff that I am finding online. I want to experience the city and culture

  • “HELLO”, you left out the top two midcentury stores in L.A. –Skank World on beverly blvd, the ultimate & Downtown on La Cienega Blvd. These are the two stores to,furnish your Quincy Jones,or Craig Ellwood home!

  • If you dont want typical predictable hipsterati Silverlake and need something edgy and creative, try downtown–gallery row and Chinatown. Ooga Booga is a premier example of a curated, DIY heavily influenced book and zine store with art and art directed items.

  • You totally overlooked the entire west side, which is so beautiful and colorful and worthwhile! I agree with all the Abbot-Kinney comments, and the Culver City comment as well; these areas are loaded with interesting little shops and personality!

    • hanna

      if you read the intro you’ll note that this guide was intended as a part 1 to the city, with later parts to follow. we have a local working on an updated guide and it should be live by next month.


  • As a New York native living in Pasadena I was delighted to find a number of antique stores along FairOaks between California and DelMar. Also, there are always great finds at the Flea Mkt. Two in Pasadena the RoseBowl and Pasadena City College.

  • When you publish the updated guide note that A+R closed their Silver Lake store and are located on Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice – AK should be included as others have noted.

  • I do appreciate these stores/areas listed, but honestly it seems a little cliche and obvious. Yes, Silver Lake and Melrose have interesting stores and hipster culture, you don’t need a guide to tell even a tourist that. Are there any other less-traveled streets we should explore?

    • jd

      this guide is pretty old, and we’re in the process of updating it.

      when it was posted it was made pretty clear that it’s not a guide to ALL of LA- but we’re working to fix that so the entire city is represented now.


  • Don’t forget about Terronion Beverly Blvd. Amazing food in a gorge Italinized midcentury modern space.

  • the San Fernando Valley gets a bad rap but there are some really cool shops over here. Henry Road in Studio City-amazing unique fabric designs, antiques, etc..great eye & many price points.-Laurel Grove off Ventura Blvd, Studio City. Also Saffron in Sherman Oaks-exquisite jewelry, scarves, tunics, dresses, etc,from india, europe, all over, beautiful tiny store -ventura blvd & hazeltine. These are both unique jewels that are not to be missed.

  • Grace– do you know of any open studios in LA (similar The Urban Craft Center) that has letterpress capabilities. I’m just a beginner, but am looking for something that I can continue learning and practicing on.

    • deanna

      i’m afraid i don’t offhand, but i would check the etsy forums and see if anyone on there knows. it’s a great resource for local craft/design studios :)


  • Any chance that the LA guide will be updated soon? I’ve only lived here for a few months, and I’m eager to see what a long-time LA resident would recommend! The list above is a good starter list, but I’m curious to see what else there is! XO

  • I third this updated guide motion! I used to live in LA, but like the guide, I’m out of date and will be returning Jan. 2011… would love an updated guide to get me started! :)

  • I work at L.A. Vintage Furnishings which is an amazing store that is off the beaten track…not far from La Brea’s high priced antique stores and because of our location we can afford to keep our prices down. You will find unique furniture, art and accessories from the 18th century all the way to the early eighties. All showcased and surrounded by beautiful sets purchased from the Twentieth Century Studio, which make our customers feel right at home. Often we sit and chat about design and furnishings and help them with any decorating needs. I love working at L.A. Vintage and hope new people will come by and discover how fun we are!

    Best regards,

  • Zelen Home has been replaced with a new store called Inheritance that has a mix of vintage and new plus some art.

  • Yeah I remember this list from when it was first posted. As an LA (specifically Silver Lake) native, I find that it’s probably not even worth doing a post about, given how many Angelenos will be offended that you left off their favorite
    boutique or cafe. An LA design guide would need its own blog or book.

  • LA, Orange County, and Palm Springs boarder all around the Inland Empire. They are all great places but I hope some day you will highlight the Inland Empire which is the two counties of Riverside and San Bernardino combined. An awesome area with many great restaurants, malls, attractions, desert, mountains and lakes.

  • Greetings from Los Angeles! We’re so excited and honored to be featured in this wonderful list of local stores! Since this list was published, we’ve brought our 19th Century science lab aesthetic into the 21st Century by launching an online version of the shop, so even readers who are nowhere near L.A. can come and explore our cabinet of curiosities. Check us out at http://shop.newstoneagela.com and get lost amid our curated collection of fine jewelry, artisan housewares and oddball ephemera!

    Much love,

    New Stone Age

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