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Two New Design Showrooms Heat Up L.A.

An American classic and an Italian powerhouse show off the goods.

Visionnaire table Photo: Courtesy Max Zambelli

We never need an excuse to shop for furniture or lighting or accessories . . . or anything home-related, for that matter. With the arrival of two new showrooms this spring, the already dynamic L.A. design scene has gotten even better. The first major presence is Knoll. A paragon of modern design for home and office, the furniture company has partnered with virtually every major creative of the 20th and 21st centuries to produce a range of highly coveted, museum-quality pieces. Cinema agrees, with auteurs giving screen time to such classics as Mies van der Rohe’s irrepressibly cool Barcelona chairs in films as varied as Tron and Casino Royale. The brand’s latest endeavor, the Knoll Home Design Shop in Los Angeles, takes it to the street, heading into the immersive and seductive world of retail.

While Knoll products have for years been a reliable click away or available in select spots like Design Within Reach, typically only architects and contract insiders have had access to the full showroom experience. The newly opened, 4,000-square-foot shop delivers design’s current attitude—the luxurious carte blanche to mix things up—to all. The space highlights the brand’s prized designs as is and with updates, like rose-gold metallic finishes and new marbles, and pairs them with contemporary works from the likes of David Adjaye, Frank Gehry, and David Rockwell. Textiles and accessories are also on offer, and the showroom is home to U.S. exclusives like Italian Piero Lissoni’s Avio sofas and Grasshopper tables and the Bastiano lounge collection by Tobia Scarpa.

Designed by Los Angeles–based Johnston Marklee in collaboration with Knoll design director Benjamin Pardo and Barbara Reimelt of NinetyNineGroup, the space is dressed in so-right-now brass fittings, herringbone laid-oak flooring, sleek arches, and undulating FilzFelt paneled canopies. The look was also meant to bring to life the then-and-now legacy of Knoll, with the company’s leader from 1951 to 1972 holding special influence. “We were inspired by images of Yves Vidal’s Tangier York Castle,” says Anton Schneider, senior designer at Johnston Marklee, “and imagined how the classic pieces of Knoll furniture could work in a beautiful and unexpected way within the context of the castle.”

Bart Low Unit ($32,400)  Photo: Courtesy Max Zambelli

Not too far away, Italian design and lifestyle brand Visionnaire will reveal its first company-owned retail flagship outside of Italy. Familiar to design insiders, the nearly 60-year-old brand emphasizes handcrafted, complete interior design proposals. Its West Coast outpost will be a layered, material-centric aesthetic universe that includes a wide range of furniture, lighting, and outdoor collections along with kitchens, wellness rooms, custom yacht capabilities, and even bespoke molding. Expect statement-making pieces like Mauro Lipparini’s Equinox Mobile Bar ($41,234), with its Deco-like coat of jade onyx, and the Bart Low Unit ($32,400), whose major Memphis vibes owe to artisan-carved Sahara Noir marble, Nero Marquina marble feet, and wavy glass doors.

The timing proved ideal for the company to make a major move Stateside. “The Visionnaire style and complete concept has gotten an incredible response from Los Angeles designers and developers, who are approaching us not only for single items but even to create entire interior concepts for some enormous projects,” says Giuseppe Baldassarre, brand manager in the Americas for Visionnaire. Those projects—including homes that have been listed for as much as $45 million—have prompted the Bologna-based brand to put down roots in California.

Poised as a showroom and workshop for the style-obsessed and their interior designers, the Visionnaire space marks a shift for the brand. As it sheds a certain under-the-radar status, the company is entering a white-hot neighborhood on the West Coast at an ideal moment—proving that even in design, timing is everything.

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