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The 2011 'California Look'

October 01, 2011
  • Sixty years after the Los Angeles Times Home Magazine defined modern living in a cover photo, we polled you: What defines today's look? Your picks are pictured in this photo.
Sixty years after the Los Angeles Times Home Magazine defined modern living… (Katie Falkenberg / For The…)

On the cover

In October 1951, the Los Angeles Times Home Magazine cover featured some forward-thinking designs of the day along with a headline that declared: "What Makes the California Look."

Sixty years later, the Home section is adding a question mark: "What Makes the California Look?"

We took key elements of the 1951 vignette — indoor armchair, patio chair, planter, fire feature and so on. With those categories as our guide, we identified California designers and manufacturers who embodied modern living in some way, be it through technological innovation, craftsmanship, sustainable materials, inspired form or smart function. We added a category, pet beds, to acknowledge the larger role that pets play in our lives (and our pocketbooks), and then we asked readers to vote online.

The items pictured in the main photo above represent reader favorites in our poll. All of the nominees — 32 designs in all — have been compiled in a photo gallery.


Key to illustration

1. The Farmhouse wire chair, part of the Bend Seating line by Gaurav Nanda, Los Angeles.

2. Trapa planter by Andrew Stoneman and Laura Haskell of the Haskell Collection, Costa Mesa. Recycled aluminum pot on steel stand.

3. Corra table lamp by Linda Allen, Los Angeles. Indoor-outdoor cordless LED lamp is powered by rechargeable batteries.

4. Woodgrain Design Square Seats by Robert Kuo, West Hollywood. Smooth table has a wood-grain portion that is actually hand-hammered copper.

5. Dish fire bowl by EcoSmart, Los Angeles. Portable indoor-outdoor fire bowl is fueled with bioethanol, needs no venting and produces no soot.

6. Letterpress rug by Commune, Los Angeles. and

7. Pebble dog bed by Eva I. Sobesky of EIS Studio, Venice. Stacked and laminated plywood with upholstered cushion; Sitting on top: Lars, a toy by Janie XY (, from L'Elephant Blanc in West Hollywood.

8. Flame Stitch pillow by Annabel Inganni of Wolfum, Los Angeles.

9. Maria chair by David Johnson of Sidecar Furniture, Highland Park. "Urban forested" walnut frame constructed with mortise and tenon joinery, hand-woven cane seat. Local craftsmanship that defies our manufactured-in-China world.

10. Mendocino outdoor fabric by Chris Barrett, Los Angeles. Easy to clean, resistant to fading.

11. Mod Series shelving by Bernard Brucha of Mash Studios, Venice. (See related article.)

12. Cloth and ceramic bird sculpture by Tanya Aguiñiga of Los Angeles, From Reform Gallery, Los Angeles,

13. The Blob screen by 100xbetter of Los Angeles. Panels made of Extira, a wood composite treated for outdoor use and cut with a computer-numeric-controlled router, or CNC machine.

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