Los Angeles interior designer A.J. Bernard knows what makes Hollywood's house-proud tick. "People don't just want future heirlooms," he notes. "They also want current status symbols." In 2005, the must-haves arrive from around the world. On the if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it front, there are Hungarian antiques that make Art Deco desirable again, minimalist Brazilian furniture and made-in-L.A. neoclassical gems. There are also cheap and cheerful designs from Scandinavia, and housewares from the '60s California crafts explosion that just may be gathering dust in your mom's attic.
1 'New Angeles': Bel-Air goes Manhattan
What it is: Park Avenue posh redefined for the California casual lifestyle. The look departs from last year's high-glam Hollywood Regency style to a more subdued yet still moneyed classicism. Furnishings from a wide range of periods and styles -- industrial lighting, 19th century antiques, framed anatomical renderings and streamlined midcentury seating -- mix easily with highly detailed reproductions such as a console table with sculptured horse-leg supports and ottomans with bronze hippo feet.
Why it's hot: "With all the magazines and television shows showing us how to do it, the clean, spare look is just too easy to knock off now," says interior designer A.J. Bernard. "It isn't unique enough to satisfy the movers and shakers in this town. The way to promote your individuality is through antiques and pieces where you can tell at one glance that there has been great care and time put into making them." As an early proponent of this high-end East Coast-West Coast hybrid, Los Angeles antiquarians Blackman Cruz have launched their first furniture collection, BC Workshop, which includes classical forms and Modernist upholstered furniture. Bernard is particularly taken with the pieces that feature animal legs. "When you live in L.A. and can see deer grazing in your yard, it's wonderful to have furniture that looks like it might get up and walk over to greet you."
What to look for: The BC Workshop collection, left, includes a bronze Thebes stool, $1,800; Equus console, $12,500; bronze, studded lamp, $2,200; 19th century engravings, $450 each; and an Italian club chair, $6,500, at Blackman Cruz, Los Angeles, (310) 657-9228. For more modest budgets, scour flea markets or try the selection of 1940s modern and institutional furniture and art at Empiric in Los Angeles, (323) 634-7323.
2 The California crafts renaissance
What it is: Handmade works -- from rustic to whimsical, abstract to figurative -- in wood, metal, clay, glass and fiber produced from World War II to the 1970s. Influenced by Modernism, Danish design and Japanese aesthetics, California artists made household objects that were functional and decorative and set trends in the crafts community, says Jo Lauria, coauthor of the forthcoming "California Design: The Legacy of the California Design Exhibitions, 1954-1976" (Chronicle).
Why it's hot: "There is a revival of arts and crafts, not necessarily as a revolt against the mass-manufactured product, but because handcrafted objects give you a connection to real people, not to machines," says Lauria. Some of the artists, such as ceramists Otto Heino and Barbara Willis, who is the subject of the 2003 book "Classic California Modernism" (JaBa Books), are still at work, and others are beginning to get long-deserved recognition. Octogenarian Annemarie Davidson's copper enamels are on display at the Long Beach Museum of Art; this spring the Pasadena Museum of California Art presents a craft show, "Good Wood."
What to look for: Laura Andreson pottery, Evelyn Ackerman tapestries. At right: Robert Maxwell lidded vases, $100, and figural pot, $1,600, at California Living, Los Angeles, (323) 930-2601. Bob Stocksdale walnut bowl, $2,500, and small Doyle Lane pots, from $300, at Reform, Los Angeles, (310) 854-1033.
3 Austrian-Hungarian design reform
What it is: Furniture and decorative arts from the late 1800s to the 1930s, a period that followed a simple design mantra: Decorate what you build, do not build decorations. Though part of one empire, Austria and Hungary maintained distinct aesthetics, says Wendy Kaplan, curator of "The Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe and America, 1880-1920" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art through April 3. In Austria, the Arts and Crafts idea of simplicity "means furniture is pared down into a visually satisfying rhythmic geometry that looks modern but doesn't hide the fact that it is handmade," Kaplan notes. The Hungarians "looked back to their own folk traditions" and later developed a streamlined Moderne look that linked Deco and Bauhaus styles.