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May 13, 2004

Lofty ideas for downtown

Over the last decade, the husband-and-wife design duo known as Team HC -- Hannah Lee, an interior designer, and Clarence Chiang Jr., an architect -- has completed dozens of projects in Hong Kong, from private residences to a yoga studio to a high-end jewelry showroom. In 2001, the couple began its first big job in the States: an overhaul of the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel that included most of the public spaces as well as the guest rooms (shown above). For the project, they created a number of pieces, from platform beds that seem to float on minimal steel armatures to mod cutout screens.

What they didn't anticipate were the many calls from covetous hotel guests wondering where they might purchase these items. Until this week, the answer was, well, sorry. Last night, the duo debuted Team HC Workshop, a line of home furnishings and accessories, in its new showroom in downtown L.A.'s Bradbury Building (specifically, and perhaps serendipitously, in the former A+D Museum space).

The 40 or so pieces in the collection include the aforementioned Muse bed (about $3,000), chunky Asian-inspired table lamps (at left, $1,600) and oversized dining tables ($1,800 to $3,000) available in nine wood finishes. The two know they are taking a gamble; the Bradbury, after all, is no Pacific Design Center. But, says Lee, "there's a lot of energy down here." Adds Chiang: "This kind of furniture is very adaptable, especially for loft-type spaces."

-- Leslee Komaiko


Custom, but quickly made

Only in Hollywood could a onetime stunt double to Jet Li and martial arts instructor to stars Tobey Maguire ("Spiderman") and Brad Pitt ("Troy") join the fashionable retail world of Melrose Avenue.

At the newly opened Plush Home in West Hollywood, Steven Ho and wife Nina Petronzio (an interior designer to Mark Wahlberg and Neve Campbell) have created a design workroom where everything is custom, from the case goods to the lighting. Customers can choose from Plush Home's line of furnishings -- such as the mahogany armoire ($5,375) and coffee table ($2,800), mohair-leather sofa ($6,525) and linen chair ($1,698), shown here -- or create their own, with a promised turnaround time of two to six weeks. The couple created its own line when design clients grew tired of waiting. "They would find something they liked in a showroom and then learn that it would take 12 to 16 weeks to arrive," says Ho, who once brandished a sword as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fight double. "So we started manufacturing our own furniture."

Plush Home also features a gallery with revolving exhibitions. After all, you never know when you might need a Picasso or Chagall to hang over your head.

Plush Home, which has a grand opening party next Thursday, is at 8323 Melrose Ave. Information: (323) 852-1912.

-- Lisa Boone


Necklace? No, it's a neckglass

Wine charms, those annoying miniature necklaces that germ-phobic Chardonnay swillers put around the stems of their goblets, are so 2003. And they are so in the recycle bin once you've tried the vintage Neckglass by Holmegaard of Copenhagen. Dedicated to fine glass and crystal design since 1825, the Danish company founded by Countess Henriette Danneskiold-Samsoe has long been a source for such utilitarian products as pitchers and glasses as well as decorative vases and candy dishes. One design, however, stands head and shoulders above the rest. The Neckglass, created around 1970 by Christer Holmgren, is a small personal carafe that conveniently dangles from your neck by a thin leather strap that can be adjusted to rest comfortably at your sternum.

The ingenious Swedish-born Holmgren honored the age-old tradition of Scandinavian design that blends modernism, pragmatism and hullabaloo-ism by crafting the Neckglass with a heavily weighted bottom that counterbalances the unit, preventing unwanted spills and freeing one hand while animatedly talking or hitting the smorgasbord. Some may find it clever; others ridiculous, but for those who cannot derive some pleasure from the Neckglass' novelty and usefulness at a party, here's a suggestion: Stay home.

The Neckglass, which comes in its original howlingly hip packaging, is available in two sizes ($65 and $125) at OK Gallery in Los Angeles ([323] 653-3501). The store stocks other vintage barware, including the 1960s Swedish stainless-steel cocktail bell shown at bottom ($65), which doubles as a measuring jigger.

-- Tim Sanchez

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