Big, Blue and Welcoming You


In its ongoing effort to become more shopper-friendly, the Pacific Design Center, at 8687 Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood, is inviting the public to an open house Saturday that will incorporate tours, showroom promotions, product presentations and a "drop-in" design clinic staffed by prominent interior designers.

The purpose of "Design Center Saturday," says design center Vice President Elaine Mutchnik, is to acquaint consumers with the 150 showrooms and nearly 2,000 product lines carried in the sleek blue and green complex, designed by architect Cesar Pelli and known as the "Blue Whale."

Opened in 1975, the complex operated for years as a furniture and fabric mart restricted to the trade, but more recently has campaigned to replace that haughty image with a warmer approach.

"This open house is a first for us," said media director Bret Parsons, "and the goal is to expose consumers to what goes on here. Anybody remodeling or furnishing a new house or just interested in furniture will find it an interesting place."

The design center is the West Coast's largest resource for fine traditional and contemporary furnishings for the home and office. Its showrooms offer selections of furniture, fabrics, floor coverings, lighting, wallcoverings, art, kitchen and bath products and decorative accessories.

In addition, since 1995, the center has offered the IdeaHouse project, two 4,000-square-foot model residences outfitted with new trends in myriad categories of products for the home, from furnishings to major appliances.

"IdeaHouse will be open full throttle, and visitors will get a 'passport,' which navigates them through the entire center," said Parsons. Besides getting design ideas, guests can sample food and beverages, test drive Acura automobiles, enter raffles for products and services and attend informational presentations in the Center Green Theater, which will include:

* 11 a.m.: Los Angeles Design Group panel highlighting contemporary trends in interior design.

* 1 p.m.: Furniture designer Dakota Jackson discussing his cutting-edge showroom designed by architect Peter Eisenman, which opened in the spring in the design center.

* 3 p.m.: Keynote presentation by Barbara Barry, known internationally for her interiors and furniture and product design.

Tickets are $10 each and proceeds will benefit the Women's Information Network Against Breast Cancer. "Design Center Saturday" is sponsored nationally by the Design Centers International and House & Garden magazine. Information: (310) 360-6433.

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