Moans and squeals of delight echoed through the halls of the Pacific Design Center, but what might have been the soundtrack from an X-rated movie was only interior designers vocalizing over new fabrics from Jakob Schlaepfer for Creation Baumann. The Swiss company recently unveiled its first $1,000-per-yard decorating fabric. That's correct, three zeros. Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.
What caused these monosyllabic expressions of joy? Lengths of gray velvet with large oval windows encircling crystal pendants, iridescent silk taffetas scattered with three-dimensional sheer roses, layers of tulle fastened with small wooden beads, and bright circles of velvet suspended on white satin.
"We have other more affordable fabrics," said company spokesman Enrico Casanovas, "but now, on top of all that, we have this." A pause and a dramatic flourish. "The hat."
A Two-Timer: "Money should not be a determinant in surrounding oneself with good design," says furniture designer Dakota Jackson.
The '70s party guy and '80s Gap-ad hipster has a new mantel for the '90s--that of furniture mogul. His latest guise has been incubating for quite some time. "I always wanted to be an industrialist like Andrew Carnegie," said the man who also lists magician and post-modern dancer on his resume.
Jackson has been producing one-of-a-kind furniture, available in Los Angeles at Randolph & Hine, since 1977. He's a special favorite among those who travel in the fast lane, yet, try as he might, a licensing deal with a mass manufacturer has been elusive. "No one was interested. They didn't consider me well-known enough," he said.
But after he was chosen to represent the cognoscenti in ads for Absolut vodka and the Gap, his Q factor shot up and opened the door to a deal with Lane, a huge North Carolina-based furniture maker. The New Rhythm collection, introduced last month , will be available this fall at major department and furniture stores.
Among the 60-piece group of startlingly glamorous pieces is a chest similar to one in Jackson's signature line, which includes custom-made pieces for $20,000 or more. The Lane version is $2,000. The price difference "represents the separation between the two industries," Jackson said. "(Custom) pieces are extraordinarily expensive. Lane is all about good design at an extraordinary price."
Store Bought: Patina V in Industry is known for its stylish mannequins. But it makes equally stylish tables and hanging racks for use as store fixtures.
The furniture, Patina Arts, is made to take a lot of abuse. "If you buy an urn or a chair or whatever and it goes into your house, I'm not too worried," said company president Norman Glazer. "But when it is in stores and a little child crawls over it and it falls over, the owners worry about lawsuits. So we build everything like a tank."
Recognizing the potential of a dual market, Glazer developed a furniture line in mahogany and wicker targeting both the visual display and the home retail markets. It will debut May 15 at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City.
Glazer hopes to duplicate the crossover success he has had with the silver-colored slab chairs with oversized scrolls for backs, $225 to $410, and his upholstered settees, $995. The price is the same for individuals as it is for stores.
Either way, Glazer said, "If someone wants over 500 pieces, they get a discount."