For Trina Turk's flagship in Los Angeles, Kelly Wearstler took another walk on the vintage side
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 4/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Trina Turk lives and breathes modern architecture. In Los Angeles, home is a 1948 post-and-beam construction by J.R. Davidson. Its Palm Springs counterpart is a streamlined moderne structure dating from 1936. And the fashion designer's two-year-old Palm Springs shop is an Albert Frey original that KWID principal Kelly Wearstler transformed into a sunny, jazzy boutique.
Turk deemed architecture the selection criterion in her year-plus hunt for a second site, in L.A. Fitting, then, that her eventual choice turned out to be the former studio of architecture firm Rios Associates.
This time around, Wearstler set her sights on a look more sedate than Palm Springs. "I was going for an old-school Bullocks Wilshire department-store vibe," says the interior designer.
Ladylike may have been her inspiration, but the result? Quiet, yes—at least for her. Demure, never. Rather, she tweaked the model according to her own fearless brand of casual glamour. Think the classic Chanel suit in the hands of Karl Lagerfeld. ("I've never been to the couture salons in Paris," says Turk, "but I can imagine them, based on a scene in The Women. " )
Except for the storefront's angled 40-foot-long expanse of glass, Wearstler rebuilt the entire premises. She tamed the volume—3,200 square feet with 14-foot ceilings—by basing her plan on an enfilade of three loungelike spaces centered on the 83-foot-long axis from front to rear. Instead of dividing walls, she used archways, columns, and niches to suggest separations. Merchandise display melds neatly with architecture, and nothing obstructs floor-through views. Grandeur and intimacy coexist in harmony.
For color, the two designers thought pink. Everyone looks good in its reflected glow—but not everyone is good at choosing precisely the right shade. "Pink is the hardest color, hands down," Wearstler proclaims. "The dangers are Pepto-Bismol or 'little girl's bedroom.'"
Mixed with brown to complement coral and gilt, Wearstler's pinks are a new neutral for a slew of wall finishes: paint, mirror, moiré vinyl. Dusty-rose concrete floor tiles replicate a 1950's pattern that Turk had seen in a magazine spread on a residence in Acapulco, Mexico. Typical Wearstler—she researched and located a Mexican manufacturer able to reproduce the tiles' shape by recasting a mold from that era.
Also trademark Wearstler: plenty of eye candy. Lighting is a party in itself, with clear glass globes resembling a sea of balloons—85 of them, 10 to 18 inches in diameter, suspended at varying heights. (She'd originally hoped for seeded pink glass fixtures, but their $800 price tag, apiece, would have broken her $400,000 budget.)
Equally festive as well as cost-conscious, plain plywood became a series of perforated screens, cut in a vaguely Moorish pattern derived from a 1940's carpet design. Wearstler painted the screens white, connected them with mortise-and-tenon joints, and mounted them over rose-gold mirrored walls in both the front and rear selling areas.
White walls are taboo in Wearstler's vocabulary. Vintage, however, is key. Frequent forays to antiques shops, consignment stores, and funky flea markets constantly yield offbeat discoveries.
At Trina Turk, the elaborately carved legs of a French 1960's console, bought for accessories display, first received the Cinderella treatment, aka gilt. A carved wood table, Italian circa 1940, and brass chairs, French 1950's, also benefited from Wearstler's golden touch. Paired with custom lounge chairs and chaise longues, these vintage pieces form cozy conversation groups encouraging shoppers to rest. . .then shop some more.
"People often shop in pairs or groups, so we built 10-by-71/2-foot dressing rooms with lounge areas right outside," Wearstler says, citing her experience at Trina Turk, Palm Springs. "The L.A. store has a large cash-wrap desk, too."
Perfectly outfitted for register and storage needs, this 12-foot-long structure boasts a painted birch body and a top of Carrara marble. "People like to lay out their purchases on the counter," says Wearstler. They also like to stop and ogle her design. Window shopping welcome.
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