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SOUTHLAND BUSINESS

Firm Scales Back

August 24, 1986|NANCY RIVERA BROOKS

The old-line Los Angeles interior design firm of Cannell & Chaffin has sharply cut back its retail furniture business, which has been a major part of the company since it opened its doors in 1917.

In fact, founders S. Bartley Cannell and George Chaffin sold some furnishings to early client William Randolph Hearst for a project he called La Casa Grande--known to everyone else as Hearst Castle.

Multimillionaires aside, the nature of the retail market has changed over the last several years. Wholesale showrooms are springing up to offer stiff competition to retailers of high-priced fine furniture, said Danford M. Baker, president of Cannell & Chaffin and grandson of S. Bartley Cannell.

The company has closed large retail operations in Los Angeles and Newport Beach in favor of small designer showrooms that still cater to the public, he said. Cannell & Chaffin also has a showroom in La Jolla.

"We're still doing a great design business, but without the huge inventory" needed in a retail furniture operation, Baker said. The company also closed design operations in Denver and Seattle because "it's difficult to run a design business long distance" and because those markets had become depressed, he said.

Cannell & Chaffin's commercial and residential interior design business started growing after World War II "and has continued to grow," Baker said. "Most of the furniture we sell is because of our design business."

Some of Cannell & Chaffin's recent projects include interior planning and design for Union Bank's new downtown executive offices, Fairbanks Country Club in Rancho Santa Fe, Wood Ranch Country Club in Simi Valley and an enlargement of the Pacific Club in Newport Beach.

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