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Beauty and the East: Table Ripples Through Mainstream


The Asian influence continues to shape home furnishings in big and little ways. That's no surprise considering our perch on the Pacific Ocean and California's historical and cultural ties to Asia.

Taking a small step into an Asian theme, Elite Manufacturing Corp. has introduced the Zen cocktail table that floats a clear glass top over a bed of sea stones. It's a change for Elite, which is known for its line of sophisticated geometric and sculptural, contemporary tables and chairs.

"Our trademarks are metal, wood or glass," said Randy Faver of the Santa Fe Springs firm. "We've never used stones before--we got them from a garden supply place."

The Zen table, described as offering "minimalist design with maximum impact," is included in the furniture showcase section of this summer's Innovation magazine published by the Industrial Designers Society of America.

Like much of Elite's line, the Zen table was designed by Carl Muller of Huntington Beach.

"We chose the stones because we wanted an elemental kind of accent that would add some texture," Muller said. "There are all sorts of different materials out there . . . our challenge is rearranging materials in different ways."

And although he's working on another Zen table, Muller doesn't see Asian touches becoming a trend for Elite. "Our clients are more mainstream kinds of stores," he said. "We just wanted to offer them another kind of flavor."


At Lotus Antiquities in L.A., owner Brad W. Blair has seen a growing consumer interest in Asian design since he went into business five years ago specializing in 18th and 19th century Chinese and Japanese tables, chairs, cabinets and other pieces.

"A lot of our customers are first-time buyers. I think people are getting much more savvy about design and more comfortable about mixing styles," said Blair, who just expanded his La Brea showroom and launched a Web site,

"What's best about this is an increased awareness of how Asian culture commingles with life in the West." Next month, he is presenting a "West Looks East" photo exhibition in conjunction with neighboring Apex Fine Art. The exhibit features such prominent photographers as Mary Ellen Mark, Carl Mydans, Nick Ut and Mark Edward Harris.

"These are Americans giving their view of Asia," explained Blair. The exhibit, at both locations, will be open to the public Sept. 8 and will run through Oct. 14.


Connie Koenenn can be reached at

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