Since establishing their business in 1997, furniture designers and vintage retailers Grant Fenning and Glenn Lawson have successfully rounded out their retro-inspired sensibility with contemporary aesthetic impulses.
Now the team continues to strike that balance in a new flagship store on Melrose near Hancock Park that was originally constructed in the early 1960s. The International Style two-story structure strongly embraces that particular era while giving the firm room to explore its interest in design stretching back decades across the globe and continuing through to present-day Los Angeles.
The primary motivation for moving to Melrose between Highland and La Brea after spending 15 years on Beverly between La Brea and Fairfax was simple. “We needed more space,” Glenn Lawson said.
Lawson-Fenning also has its popular Silver Lake Boulevard boutique, but a bump up in square footage at its showroom closer to Mid-City was necessary to expand its custom furniture line, include more restored vintage pieces, and showcase wares by current makers and artisans they’re passionate about.
The setting is ideal, thanks to the building’s open plan and midcentury modern provenance, as well as simpatico neighbors including Reform Gallery, Galerie Half and the Window. In addition, alterations made during Rios Clementi Hale Studios and Not Neutral’s tenure years ago blend seamlessly with the current occupants’ aesthetic, such as the downstairs lighting installation and other interior details.
Since getting access to the structure in March, “We’ve opened up a lot of it and exposed some bones of the building,” Fenning explained. Changes include adding a new concrete berm along the front exterior wall, exposing steel girders and installing brass-trimmed oak wood cladding in an entrance atrium wall. The terrazzo floor in the entrance atrium has been nicely polished too.
With more than 8,000 square feet to play with, “We have room for everything in the line, whereas in the old store we rotated [pieces] in,” Lawson noted. “We’ve had this backlog of designs” that now they can finally get around to manufacturing and displaying. New pieces seen on the floor include the Cruz dining table, and a sleek easel made of white oak and brass.
Although easels are practical for clients who lack wall space in their own homes or offices, Lawson-Fenning on Melrose now has more vertical room on which to place its selection of abstract mid-century pieces, such as a signed lithograph by Larry Zox.
On the store’s second level, where new Douglas fir planks surface the floors, a section is focused on textiles, with products from L.A.-based natural dye maven Noon, and Ferm Living pillows and kilim rugs from Denmark. Interspersed among Lawson-Fenning’s vintage inventory that’s typically heavy on Scandinavian and Danish modern and its eponymous furnishings are lighting pieces by local designers Jason Koharik and Robert Lewis. A new addition to the store’s offerings is De Jong & Co. furniture, a line that the L.A.-based wooden goods company recently debuted at ICFF.
Also ensconced upstairs is what Fenning and Lawson describe as their shop-within-a-shop, where the shelves and tables are artfully stocked with functional and decorative accessories, the vast majority of which are made in L.A. The local ceramics renaissance is well represented, with Jonathan Cross’ compact Brutalist-inspired sculptures, and lines including Victoria Morris, Mt. Washington Pottery and Highland Park-based Meredith Metcalf. Made Solid leather trays and 100xbetter’s wood bowls and Corian coasters are gifts that adapt to any type of décor.
Branching out geographically, Fenning and Lawson are excited about the impeccably designed and crafted Malle W. Trousseau kitchen tools from France. Also in the category of non-California native goods spotted upstairs are Tiverton lamps by O&G Studios, a Rhode Island design firm that mines America’s Colonial design heritage with a fresh take, and Cinnamon Projects incense from the New York-based firm that’s given slow-burning, smoke and fragrance-emanating sticks a complete, sleek makeover.
While the natural light-flooded showroom is full of interior charms, the floor-to-ceiling windows upstairs flatteringly frame the city beyond. It’s a quality that’s not lost on the building’s new tenants. While pausing to take in the view beneath a pair of Robert Lewis’ leaded mica pendant lights, Lawson said, “It feels like a nice L.A. moment.”
6824 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 934-0048.