By definition, contemporary design means style that is “of the moment,” representing the kind of trends that end up being used as a shorthand for conjuring flashbacks to a certain time period, think: wood-paneled rec rooms and avocado appliances. Last weekend, modern day lifestyle themes that one day will be studied by set designers looking to tell a story about the late teens of the 21st century were on display at the WestEdge Design Fair held at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.
Showcasing more than 175 companies of seemingly every size and stripe, the sixth WestEdge fair may have looked like a colorful collection of luxury furniture, decor and appliances, but it also served up cultural cues to our current relationships with technology, world events, social justice and environmental concerns.
And you thought you were just looking at a rug.
In an era when we are simultaneously embracing technology in all forms for smart home design and appliances — while doing everything we can to create soothing sanctuaries that buffer and shield us from the fray — contemporary design is a study in contrasts. Yes, we want to preheat the oven from our smartphone, but we also want to eat dinner on a table made of sustainable wood by artisans who take pride in their craft.
Both were at WestEdge.
The show celebrated the craftsmanship and handmade appeal of artists and artisans like designer Kelly Lamb, ceramicist Lynne Meade and artists Lisa Donohoe and Brynn Gelbard of Los Angeles-based Londubh, while at the same time reveling in dramatically conceived booths like the one from JennAir that was as much a contemporary art installation as a product showcase.
The Shade Store, one of the large companies there, introduced its latest Roman shade and drapery collaboration with designer Nate Berkus. Among the emerging companies on hand was Del Mar, Calif.-based Ibbq, showing off its Social Grilling table, an outdoor dining table with gas grill inset, and the Personal Space to-the-trade showroom in Manhattan Beach, which debuted the latest additions to its lines.
Here are 12 designs we thought captured both the spirit of the show and the style zeitgeist:
Flip on the light
One-of-a-kind lamps designed with industrial hardware, handmade ceramics and patchwork shades debuted from Mokelumne Hill, Calif.-based Imaginary Lamp Empire, starting at $625. imaginarylampempire.com
They said there wouldn’t be math
Los Angeles-based Parts + Assembly sells a collection of modular geometric pieces in natural wood or mirrored or metallic finishes that clip together to create a customized design or can be purchased in combinations like the Cody ($1,000) styled by designer-owner Fanae Aaron. partsandassembly.com
Powdery pastel pottery with a vintage-inspired vibe ($18-$65) designed by Heather McCalla at San Diego-based tinybadger.com.
Life in 2-D
Premier faucet company Franz Viegener showcased the Edge faucet ($1,350), an ultra-modern, visual equivalent of a die-cut piece of steel, which was one of several products at the WestEdge show to earn a Best of Category commendation from CA Home + Design. franzviegener.us
Wash your hands
You’re soaking in it
The WestEdge outdoor lounge area was lighted at night courtesy of French company Les Jardins’ new solar lighting division, which will launch retail Nov. 1. Blade Solar Lantern in teak with Duratek finish, $500, lesjardins.solar
Lloyd Drinks Cabinet inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright in oiled walnut and hand-polished brass from Los Angeles-based Foreman Brothers, $5,200, foremanbrothersdesign.com
Los Angeles-based interior designers Jen Dallas and Perry Helderman debuted Maple Jude & Co., a charming new line of printed organic textiles and matching ceramic tiles, prices available upon request at maplejude.com.
Luxury carpet company Woven Concepts debuted its customizable UnTitled Collection designed by Jaime Derringer, the founder of influential style blog Design Milk, who created a line of carpets inspired by the idea of coloring outside the lines. An 8-foot by 10-foot rug starts at $7,840. wovenconcepts.com
Inspired by black volcanic glass, JennAir’s new column refrigerators are designed with obsidian interiors dramatically lighted from within that boast triple-sensor climate controls and smart-home integration, the 24-inch starts at $6,199. At WestEdge, consumers also got a glimpse of Cuts by JennAir, an industry exclusive collection of custom leather panels designed to adorn refrigerator doors. Want a fridge that dresses as well as you do? Reserve panels, starting at $4,000 online at boundbynothing.jennair.com.
Now that’s smart!
Luxury faucet manufacturer Brizo demonstrated its Litze Smart Touch articulated faucet in Brilliance Luxe Gold finish at a fully plumbed sink: once the water handle is engaged, the faucet can be turned off and on with a simple to touch to any of the metal parts, $1,282, brizo.com
Bonnie McCarthy contributes to the Los Angeles Times as a home and lifestyle design writer. She enjoys scouting for directional trends and reporting on what’s new and next. Follow her on Twitter @ThsAmericanHome