Chinatown gallery owner Robert Apodaca is loath to throw anything away
Photograph by WILLIAMS + HIRAKAWA
He’s a keeper: “I don’t like to throw things away,” says Robert Apodaca, a 33-year-old Fountain Valley native. His Fifth Floor gallery, which opened in 2008, specializes in furniture and accessories made from reclaimed wood. Even its hardwood floor is repurposed; Apodaca moved it from his apartment on the second story of the same building in Chinatown. Crossroads: The intersection of design and art is the focus of Fifth Floor, which is named after the location of the architecture department at Otis College of Art and Design, Apodaca’s alma mater. Fine art exhibitions fill the mezzanine. On the ground floor an airy store sells everything from felt and leather handbags to vases fashioned from test tubes in driftwood. Small world: The inspiration for this hybrid project? “Disneyland,” says Apodaca, who spent summers as a teen working in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. “It’s an immersive environment that tells a story. That’s what I’m trying to do here.” In June the gallery will show pencil drawings and a wall installation by Tibbie Dunbar, who is the director of the A+D Architecture and Design Museum. » Go to fifthfloorgallery.com.