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STYLE / DESIGN

Hardware Goes Humorous

November 10, 1996|BARBARA THORNBURG

"I wanted to design objects with a sense of humor that are sophisticated enough to endure," says 32-year-old Sallie Trout of her collection of whimsical decorative hardware. What she's created would make even a palace guard smile. Her doorknobs and finials, hooks and drapery tiebacks come in an array of offbeat motifs, from rocket ships and coffee cups to lips, eyes and hearts. There's even a drawer pull in the shape of a melting cross. She calls it "Sinead," after the rebellious Irish singer.

The Baltimore native started her business in Los Angeles seven years ago with a line of witty furniture and accessories. The knobs and finials came later, out of necessity, she says. "I decided to make my own because I could never find anything I liked." Inspiration is everywhere. Some ideas spring from nature in the form of tadpoles, snails, shells, the sun and moon. Others are hatched in Trout's vivid imagination. She describes a series of trapezoidal cabinets, named "Glick," "Glock" and "Glunk," as "cardboard boxes caught in a wet tornado."

Trout grinds, machines and finishes her hardware in the 5,000-square-foot studio and showroom in Venice that she also calls home. There, Trout customizes special pieces such as the cabinet she made for a Berkeley shop owner. Trout stained it pale blue and mounted an "Eye" handle on the top drawer, a "Lips" handle on the bottom. Says the designer: "It looked like a charming alien that followed him home."

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