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HOMES: FACES OF 2006 | ACCESSORIES

Upstaging the flowers

January 05, 2006|Craig Nakano

AS modern design stretches its reach from the home into the garden, the Los Angeles-based furnishings company NotNeutral is staking a place in the movement with its first foray in outdoor accessories: the Bloomin' Garden Stakes.

The stakes, which will premiere at the New York International Gift Fair later this month, aim to turn frumpy flower beds into hip fashion statements. Lightweight steel poles are topped with chunky representations of flora and fauna, painted in the most unnatural of hues.

"We took it to a Pop Art level," says Brent Smith, NotNeutral's vice president of branding and marketing. "We've taken birds, butterflies, leaves and flowers, and abstracted them in really bright colors. They're larger than normal for a garden because we want them to make a statement."

They're the latest design declaration from NotNeutral, an offshoot of Rios Clementi Hale Studios. NotNeutral takes its mother company's custom work in architecture, interiors, landscapes and graphics, then translates it into products for a broader market. Smith says the Bloomin' Garden Stakes stem from runway decor that RCH Studios created for Louis Verdad's L.A. Fashion Week show in October, as well as from a trend the company is seeing in its landscape projects.

"Clients are always asking them to design gardens that don't look so old-fashioned," Smith says, adding that NotNeutral intends to roll out modern pots and outdoor dinnerware in the months to come. The company is also working on environmentally safe "garden incense" that keeps bugs away and makes gardens smell as if they are blooming year-round.

The stakes are expected to land in stores in February. The suggested retail price for a set of six 14-inch stakes (ant, bird, butterfly, tulip, daisy and leaf) will be $36. A set of three 32-inch stakes (choose between animal or plant designs) are also $36. Visit NotNeutral's Los Angeles store at 6824 Melrose Ave., or find other retailers and shop online at www.notneutral.com.

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