Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 3/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
It may be better to be lucky than smart—but LivinStone co-owner and designer Olivier Morange is both. Lucky in that he happened to catch sight of the "For Rent" sign on a 1926 building in Los Angeles one night when he was driving to the airport, not thinking specifically about his ongoing search for showroom space. Smart in that he'd spent the past 20 years traveling, "renovating things," as he describes it, and learning about materials. "I'm not an architect," says the self-taught interior designer. "But I want to be part of that world."
Both the location of the building and its 4,000-square-foot size were ideal for the massive stone furniture and bath fixtures that Morange planned to show there, alongside stone samples from round the world. And that wasn't all. After canceling his flight and signing a lease, he was lucky again. While gutting the dark interior, he and his wife and business partner, Anne Marteville, found 15 windows that had been blacked out and a bow-truss structure that was hidden behind three dropped ceiling heights.
Once everything was stripped down, Morange added very little. Limestone has replaced linoleum flooring, and a Venetian plaster wall divides the front showroom from a 1,500-square-foot rear art gallery. Outside, Morange tended the sparse greenery climbing the facade until leaves all but enveloped it. Instant charm.
Products, designed by Morange and others, show off the power of stone—whether it's his ovoid bathtub of 3-inch-thick Capri limestone or a limestone sconce by Fernando Perrone. Stone dominates the interior, too: not only the floor but also part of the cash-wrap desk and the surround of the Zen garden at the center of the showroom. The garden's fountain gurgles amid a selection of bromeliads and succulents, the interior's real livin' components.