A curious thing is happening in Downtown Los Angeles: A slate of designer-driven furniture and clothing stores are opening. Even more curious: They come from figures who made a splash in reality TV.
In the Arts District Kristan Cunningham, the host of HGTV’s “Design on a Dime,” and her husband Scott Jarrell recently opened Hammer and Spear, which sells vintage designer furniture and unusual handmade items. In the Historic Core Nicholas Bowes, who appeared on the NBC show “Fashion Star,” opened the clothing store Nicholas Bowes Made in Los Angeles.
They are joined by Angelo Surmelis, a veteran of the TLC show “Clean Sweep” and HGTV’s “Rate My Space Broadway.” His angelo:Home boutique debuted in the Eastern Columbia building.
The idea of interior designers opening stores in Downtown is a no-brainer, said Gerry Seibel, vice president of new business development for the Gift, Home Decor and Design division at California Market Center. He thinks the area’s large residential population, which includes many creative types, offers a reliable clientele for these businesses.
“I’m not surprised at all. I think more and more will follow,” Seibel said.
Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association, said clothing designers have been flocking to Downtown in part to be close to others in the industry and the supply chain in the Fashion District.
“All the people they need to do business with are here,” she said
Here is a close-up look at some of the new businesses with designs on Downtown.
Fear No Color
The colorful and well-stocked angelo:Home features more than 800 items, many from Angelo Surmelis’ line of furniture, bedding, lamps and rugs. The 1,500-square-foot space also offers books, candles, kitchenware and more by other designers.
Surmelis, who usually sports a beige straw hat atop his shaved head, is the most established of Downtown’s new trio of celebrity designers. He created the angelo:Home brand in 2008 and sells his goods in more than 100 locations in the country.
Stocked with couches, chairs, ottomans, pillows, a bed, outdoor furniture and more, the store that opened in October is a collage of color and eclectic style.
“When I design a product I don’t think of one aesthetic,” said Surmelis. “I really love looking at traditional design and making it feel fresh and new, so I would say that I’m a modernist traditionalist.”
Surmelis points to his Ennis sofa line, which is a throwback to 1950s and ’60s style with squared armrests, wooden legs and bright colors. It comes in green, cream, golden yellow, “vintage” dark orange and aqua blue. It costs $549 (delivery included) and comes in a box that can fit through a 10-inch opening, according to the company website. Some assembly is required.
Surmelis had the Downtown Los Angeles buyer in mind when he created his Napa Springs outdoor furniture line. The water resistant resin chairs, which come with a variety of pillow colors, are smaller than most pieces of outdoor furniture and will fit on loft balconies or decks, Surmelis said. The armchair or armless chair sell for $259 and the love seat and table combo is $499.
Then there is his affordable chandelier line. The modern and funky creations are made from plastic and come in bright colors such as red, orange, yellow, purple and green. They go for $99-$169. There are also table and floor lamp versions of the chandelier lights.
“The goal of our line is not to be stuffy or pretentious. We’re about having fun,” Surmelis said. “We think your home should be a fun place to be and you shouldn’t have to spend too much on it.”
angelo:Home is at 847 S. Broadway, (213) 488-9347 or angelohome.com.
Nicholas Bowes may have had the dubious distinction of being the first contestant eliminated last year from the NBC competition “Fashion Star,” but the Australia-born designer has found a home in Downtown on Eighth Street. His store sells his leather jackets, pillows and wallets, as well as non-leather goods such as T-shirts and shorts. All are made near Downtown at his manufacturing facility.
The heavily tattooed designer has been a Downtown resident for about five years. His current home is just around the corner from the 800-square-foot store he opened in June.
The glass-fronted space is stocked with items manufactured in his 11,000-square-foot factory at Grand Avenue and 37th Street. He supplements his own brand with a few vintage shoes, bags and accessories.
“Our main focus is on leather. I try to do a lot of unique pieces,” he said.
The store is geared to Downtown residents who want to shop after work. It’s open six days a week from 5-10 p.m.
One of his most popular pieces is a black fitted men’s jacket made with Italian leather that sells for $499. Women’s items include a 3/4 sleeve cropped perforated leather jacket, which has tiny holes that give it a 1980s look. It is $399.
T-shirts are also big, with cotton modal (a type of rayon) blended shirts that come in earthy colors. They are fitted and cost $69.
For summer, Bowes has designed shorts made from a blend of cashmere and cotton. They are accented with leather pockets and a leather patch. They sell for $149.
Bowes doesn’t like to waste material, so he also makes pillows with different color leather patches ($199) and something he calls the Frankenstein wallet. It’s a small leather bag that folds into a very large wallet. It is $49.99.
Bowes also has leather jackets and T-shirts for kids. A mini biker jacket is $299.
Nicholas Bowes Made in Los Angeles is at 210 W. Eighth St. or nicholasbowes.com.
The General Store
Newlyweds Kristan Cunningham and Scott Jarrell spend a lot of time in their 1963 Chevy pickup truck. The light blue vehicle is what the couple uses when hunting for vintage treasures to bring back to Hammer and Spear.
The 2,000-square-foot space, which opened in the Arts District ast month, is a mix between a high-end antique store, a cool flea market and a general store. It has about 700 items in stock.
“Nothing comes into the shop that we don’t love and that wouldn’t be in our home,” said Cunningham, who describes herself as a budget designer.
The West Virginia natives met in college at a bar during Super Bowl Sunday. The now Arts District residents were between TV projects, and said they were not very fulfilled with what they were doing, when they decided to open a store.
“We just woke up one day and said, ‘Why are we not doing the thing that makes us happy and that we’re passionate about?” she said.
Cunningham said the shop is modeled after things they would have in their own home. In their vintage truck, which has neither seatbelts nor windshield wipers, the couple attends estate sales and auctions. They also get items from collectors and other buyers and have things made by other designers they like.
Currently for sale is a $9 wooden spoon crafted by Alleghany Treenware, a company run by fellow West Virginia designers and former coal miners Sue and Stan Jennings. On the higher end, Hammer and Spear has a 24-karat gold leaf Karl Springer chair for $995.
One of Cunningham’s favorite finds is a 1960s Hans Olsen modular sofa that is basically two chairs with a table in between that can be put in different configurations. It costs $4,000.
Trekkies may pass out from excitement when they see the Chromcraft black chairs that Cunningham said were used in four episodes of the original “Star Trek” series. They are $995 apiece.
Since they want to offer everything anyone would need at home, the couple also sells a brick-sized soap for $9. Made by Duke Cannon, it utilizes the same ingredients and plants as the standard issue military soap used during the Korean War.
Hammer and Spear is at 255 S. Santa Fe Ave., (213) 928-0997 or hammerandspear.com.