PERCHED on a yellow and green swing set, with a tiara in her magenta-highlighted hair and silver and orange slippers on her feet, Didi Dunphy was one of the more colorful sights at the CA Boom modern design exhibition last weekend in Santa Monica.
The designer of indoor-outdoor playgrounds from Athens, Ga., joined nearly 100 contemporary architects, furniture makers and other artisans at the third annual show, which aimed to rise above the usual home-improvement expos and arts-and-crafts fairs.
Among those showcasing their work were By Dutch, a self-described "interior restyling" firm from the Netherlands, and Fjord, a Norwegian chair manufacturer. Despite the show's ability to begin attracting an international reputation and clientele, it was the homegrown talent that made CA Boom distinctive this year.
California designers working in tree-hugger alternative woods, cast concrete and decorative architectural tiles made earthiness edgy. Router-cut birch plywood shelves and seats that pack flat for easy shipping and quick assembly evoked Bauhaus simplicity.
Backyard furnishings such as Modern Outdoor's Shademakers line of aluminum-mast market umbrellas from New Zealand were stylish and innovative.
Returning exhibitors Sami Hayek and Idea Space Design, two furniture, architecture and interior firms that marry luxury materials and Modernist silhouettes, took their high-glam signature looks to a new level. Even first-time exhibitors, many showing high-priced designs built by hand, were among the highlights.
-- David A. Keeps