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Low table, top price

June 17, 2004|Chris Erskine; Abra Deering Norton; Alexandria Abramian-Mott

Low table, top price

Sunday's auction of furnishings and fine arts at Santa Monica Airport netted a world record auction price for a piece by George Nakashima, reports Peter Loughery, owner of Los Angeles Modern Auctions. The rare, English oak burl dining table, 8 feet in diameter, sold for $129,250, the highest public price ever paid for a piece of furniture designed and completely executed by Nakashima. (Last year, Philips Auctioneers sold a piece for $130,500 that was started by Nakashima in 1989 but was finished and signed in 1992 by his daughter, Mira Nakashima, after her father's death.) The table was specially commissioned in 1964 for an Ohio savings and loan and later given to the Cleveland Museum of Art with the understanding it could be sold to raise funds. Loughery had expected it to go for half the amount.

-- Chris Erskine

Master of the modern

What would Leonardo think? His last name has been co-opted for everything from pizza to a novel that's burned up the bestseller list for more than a year.

Now Tomas Newsom and Eric Turic have opened Da Vinci LA, a modern home furnishings store on Beverly Boulevard. Most of the furniture is designed by Newsom, including a sleek dove-gray sectional sofa ($3,000) and armchair ($1,200) and occasional and end tables of maple, walnut and mahogany ($400 to $1,000).

Turic says the accessories he selects are "very placeable and inviting," such as a silk and wool black shag rug ($2,000) and silk pillows ($60 to $160). A variety of indoor and outdoor water elements are available, ranging from tabletop fountains (from $220) to column fountains made of volcanic rock (from $1,800).

Da Vinci also carries the work of two California artists. L.A. painter Michael Illes' squeegee-applied paintings on large wooden panels ($1,800 to $6,000) adorn an exposed brick wall, and San Diego artist Andrea Steorts' dreamy, figurative paintings, aptly termed "magical realism," sell for about $7,000.

Da Vinci LA, 8342 Beverly Blvd., L.A., (323) 655-3325;

-- Abra Deering Norton

Lighting inspired by long ago

Glass artist Alison Berger's latest lighting designs illuminate various points on the timeline, from 4th century glass-blowing techniques to Victorian birdcages that inspired the base of her Roman Rings floor lamp.

Even though the L.A.-based artist looks to such things as 15th century botany studies and secret society chalices for inspiration, she's not interested in replicating period pieces. Instead, her collection of hand-blown pendants, sconces and floor lamps takes what Berger calls "that super cool, unstable liquid" down to its primal essence.

Her latest work includes a series of phone-book thick glass wall sconces made to distort the size of the light bulb depending on how you look at it.

Berger's work, starting at $1,000, is on view at Plug, 8017 Melrose Ave., until the end of June. (323) 653-5635.

Alexandria Abramian-Mott

Just follow the red beam

A circular saw is as simple and deadly as a shark. It just follows its nose, slicing through everything in its path. For heavy carpentry, where long cuts are needed, there is nothing quite so effective. The trick is to harness all that power, straight and true. Without getting bitten, of course.

Ryobi, like other major manufacturers, is offering laser-guided power tools to make such cuts easier and more accurate. Formerly a feature only on professional-grade tools, lasers throw an easy-to-follow beam across your target. Simply paint your pencil mark with the laser beam, and off you go. The beam extends several feet in front of the saw, allowing the user to keep it steady and eliminate the back-end wobble that can ruin a good cut.

Of course, you'll need to adjust your work habits. Every carpenter has a certain way of following a pencil line. Leave the line? Cut the line? Reconciling the beam and the pencil mark will be the biggest hurdle. And don't expect a long, sharp red beam in direct sunlight. In Ryobi's model, the beam washes out badly, and is hard to follow. In shade, the beam darts off about 5 feet. But the saw, at 5,500 rpm, is powerful enough for just about any task.

Ryobi circular saw, $69, (800) 525-2579,

-- Chris Erskine

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