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THE SCOUT

His latest target: L.A.

February 22, 2007|Craig Nakano; David A. Keeps; Judy Seckler

SEEN around town: Thomas O'Brien, New York interior designer and home furnishings tastemaker for the masses. Though he's perhaps best known as Target's "vintage modern" man, O'Brien was in Los Angeles for the first time in more than a year to help open a Haptor Barrett showroom carrying his latest collections for the Hickory Chair Co. When the designer wasn't shaking hands, posing for cameras or stealing away to L.A.'s vintage clothing boutiques in search of inspiration, he was fielding questions about the dreaded "T" word -- trends, as in what trends are on the horizon. One theme among his clients: a growing willingness to break the rules. More people are defying the constraints of a particular decorating style or architectural era, he said, mixing antiques with modern pieces, the offbeat with the traditional. The result is an amalgam of looks that defines personal style. "It's related to fashion, expressing yourself and being an individual," O'Brien said. "What people want is individuality -- something that everyone else doesn't have." Haptor Barrett, in the L.A. Mart downtown, is open only to the trade, but O'Brien's designs can be viewed at www.hickorychair.com (click on "furniture," then "collections," then "Thomas O'Brien" and "TOB").

-- Craig Nakano

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HAPPENING

A Spanish Revival shift

The 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego ignited a romance for Spanish Revival homes in L.A., and with the new architecture came new furniture that matched: built with dark woods, accented heavily in iron. But in the decades that followed, Angelenos moved farther from the city's core, into homes that were brighter and more open. The inherent mood of the space was different, and soon the furnishings were too. Furniture got brighter. Vases became more colorful. The imagery on tile, such as these 1930s pieces from Taylor Tilery, grew more playful. An exhibition opening Wednesday at the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica will showcase this less serious side of Spanish Revival and Mexican decorative arts. "People look at Monterey furniture, and they only see the dark. We felt a need to address that, to show that sometimes the mood was lighter," museum director Tobi Smith says. Through Oct. 28 at 2612 Main St.; (310) 392-8537.

-- Craig Nakano

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SAVE

Rugs, fabrics for a lot less

Sueno, the Silver Lake home furnishings studio, is offering storewide reductions up to 70% off through March 4 to make room for new merchandise. Floor coverings, marked down 20%, include antique Turkish tulus woven with long strands of color-saturated goat hair (shown here, starting around $800), as well as Oaxacan flat woven rugs in geometric patterns by designer Mary Haggerty and hand-knotted Afghan wool pieces. Midcentury armchairs reupholstered in contemporary fabrics are half off, and vases, boxes and bowls in ceramic, lacquer, leather and painted mango wood are 70% off. 2811 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; (213) 483-7300; www.suenostudio.com.

-- David A. Keeps

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OPENINGS

Tiny design bookstore finds its place

In an era of disappearing independent bookstores, petite Potterton Books may come as quite a surprise. Open to the public on the ground floor of the Pacific Design Center, the 260-square-foot space carries a thoughtful assortment of interior design, architecture, decorative arts and landscaping books, including rare and out-of-print titles. Whether looking for the latest on legendary Hollywood decorator Billy Haines or a limited edition of "Jeremiah: A Romantic Vision," a compilation of paintings by famed interiors illustrator Jeremiah Goodman, shoppers praise the selection. 8687 Melrose Ave., in the Green Building just off the parking structure; (310) 289-1247.

-- Judy Seckler

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