In a city that's bursting with creative collaborations, designer Sean Knibb's Flowerboy Project café/flower shop/boutique, which opens July 18 in Venice, stands out.
Knibb, who has lived in Venice for 35 years, is a skilled and experienced practitioner in various realms. He's expanded from specializing in landscape work to furniture and full-service hospitality design (his firm designed the Line Hotel in Koreatown).
So, after years of having the "flowerboy" name in mind, referencing the time he spent with his florist grandmother in Jamaica during childhood visits, Knibb wanted to sell fresh flowers and great coffee. Plus "I wanted to bring different people in," he said.
Enter Lindsay and Raan Parton of Alchemy Works in the Arts District, who met Knibb through mutual friends. Flowerboy Project's potential came into focus as the team bonded over their shared love of travel and collecting and selling objects from around the world.
A rounded mirror-clad counter where Vittoria Coffee is served and a playful menu composed of children's magnets stand near the entrance. An original midcentury rock wall has been left in place, and pressed flower collages decorate other walls for a whimsical and thematically appropriate touch.
Lush flower offerings placed near the entrance and the counter are inspired by season and color, with the palette changing every two to three weeks. Stems are sold in small, medium and large bunches (priced at $10, $20 and $30, respectively) because Knibb believes buying flowers should be "more routine" than it often is.
The menu includes Sugarbloom Bakery goods, Harriet's Cheesecakes, Alma chocolates from Portland, Ore., and sandwiches from Madame Monsieur in downtown made using Clark Street Bread. A few vintage tables and Eames chairs are situated near the rear of the shop for customers to sit, sip, read and chat.
Throughout the space, Knibb designed shelves using white-pine planks and metal ladder frames to provide a clever yet unobtrusive backdrop for the Partons' home and mix of personal accessories. They've brought in a few lines they sell downtown, including Rachel Craven linens and sandals made in Italy by Capri Positano.
Maison de Vacances linen throws from France, Clare V clutches, delicate white and gold-leaf porcelain dishes by Austrian artisan Andrea Baumann, Fiele Fragrances and Capsules Parfums have been selected specifically for Flowerboy Project. A wall-mounted display features Pichulik jewelry from South Africa next to locally made Marmol Radziner pieces, with fine jewelry to come. A custom Flowerboy Project version of Apolis' signature jute market tote is available too.
Knibb describes aspects of the venture as "a working studio" and brick-and-mortar setting where he can sell Knibb Design's lighting, outdoor furnishings and one-of-a-kind ceramics, such as the "milk jug" planters he originally created for the Line Hotel that are crafted at the Malibu studio of his late mentor Carl Gillberg. (Knibb Design also maintains an online store.)
In addition to building a Westside presence, Knibb's passion project resonates with the Partons for philosophical reasons. Flowerboy Project's multiple components help facilitate "the crosspollination of retail and hospitality, [which] is so key," Raan said.
The pun was unintended.
824 Lincoln Blvd., Venice; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; (310) 452-3900. www.flowerboyproject.com