Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsFixme

STYLE: Leaders of the Pack : Southern California Trendsetters: Portraits From the Creative Edge : Experiment in Progress: Shaheen Sadeghi

March 13, 1994|BARBARA THORNBURG

Although he's too old to be part of it, entrepreneur Shaheen Sadeghi has his finger on the pulse of bohemian America, consumers aged 18 through 29 and 40 million strong. When they go shopping, they want to get more for less, and he hopes to give it to them. Ergo, Costa Mesa's newest mall, which isn't really a mall at all.

In two warehouses about a half-mile south of South Coast Plaza, Sadeghi has assembled 16 innovative stores behind a collage of architectural elements strung with LPs, shoes and faded jeans. Of his retail experiment, known simply as The Lab, he says: "I felt there was a void in the retail shopping experience. All the malls are so homogenized. The romance is gone for the average consumer."

To restore some of the fun, Sadeghi hired New York designer Ron Pompei of Pompei A.D. to create the Lab's anti-mall ambience. Pompei, known for the deconstructivist and recycled interiors of Urban Outfitter stores, etched concrete walls with acid and chiseled them to reveal snaking rebar. At the center of the complex is an open-air "living room" of vintage furniture where people are invited to just hang out. "I want to make this a community center," Sadeghi says.

The stores are large and small, known and unknown. There's the 12,000-square-foot Urban Outfitters and Taxi Taxi, a vintage guitar and clothing store, as well as Tower Alternative, a Tower Records store devoted strictly to alternative music, and Collector's Library, a specialty comic-book store. All this, plus billiards, a gallery for local artists and an ever-changing calendar of live music, poetry readings and fashion shows.

A graduate of the Pratt Institute in New York, the 39-year-old Sadeghi started out as an assistant to fashion designers Charles James, John Anthony and Mary McFadden in the '70s. He then spent eight years traveling through Eastern Europe, India and the Far East, designing sportswear for Jantzen and setting up its offshore manufacturing. More recently, he has worked with the Gotcha Sportswear and Quiksilver labels.

Today, he no longer has much time for designing clothes, but that's fine with him. "I think of myself as more of a talent scout," he says. "I find all the talent and put it together."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|