The Original Collectors Series: Los Angeles, CA

After I graduated from the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, I primarily did residential architecture, and then as the years progressed, I did a lot of built-ins, which turned into furniture. By the time the housing market collapsed, I was the design lead on multimillion-dollar residential projects, inside and out, top to bottom.

After the housing crash, I rented out my house in Hollywood Heights and moved into an apartment. I had all these boxes of vintage pieces that had been in storage. So I’m sitting there with no work, but surrounded by these incredible things I’d bought over the years, and I thought, maybe there’s a business there. That’s how my vintage business started.

I built up my personal collection over more than 10 years of going to auctions, flea markets, and thrift stores. In the early 2000s, people who were design-savvy were into Mid Century Modern, but the general population was not. So I’d go to flea markets and find pieces by Mies van der Rohe, Florence Knoll, George Nelson. And then I got obsessed with postmodernism, which is starting to get really hot now. I love the playfulness, which was a reaction to the “form follows function” mantra of modernism. In the sale, there’s a high 80s lamp, really classic American postmodern. There are also a couple of chairs by Ettore Sottsass, who founded the Memphis style, and another chair by Anna Anselmi for Bieffeplast.

When I went on shopping trips, I’d often be in this little Kia Soul. And people would always say, “You’re not going to fit anything in there.” And somehow I’d get in sofas, paintings—big pieces. There’s a rare blue marble cube I’ve been carting around for years, in and out of cars, up and down stairs.

The Original Collectors Series: Los Angeles, CA
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The Original Collectors Series: Los Angeles, CA

You were early to the Mid Century Modern and postmodern trends. What’s bubbling up now?

Ceramics, because they’re one of the few things where the designer’s hand comes through. In other media, like metalwork, glass or most painting, the artist’s hand doesn’t touch the work. With clay, you can see the mark of the person’s finger. It’s a highly individual. That’s the new movement—the opposite of mass production. There’s a pitcher in the sale where you can see the ridges of the person’s fingers. It’s very thin earthenware, which is very hard to achieve—it’s difficult to turn it that thin and not have it break when you’re firing it.

You also have a few Murano glass pieces.

That was another thing you used to be able to find in thrift stores, but it was almost impossible to identify. Then people started clueing into it, and it got really popular. Now it’s impossible to find. The only reason that Luigi Onesto green teardrop-shaped piece is in the sale is because I didn’t remember I still had it—otherwise it would have sold already.

How do you approach art collecting?

With a design education, it was easy for me to spot pieces. Even if I couldn’t identify the artist, I could spot quality. In my own personal living space, every inch was covered by artwork. I love female portraits, and two favorites are the Jacut and the Japanese woman in profile. I always did female portraits in my living room, and once a friend came over and said he was starting to get creeped out with all these woman staring at him!

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