Photograph by Misha Gravenor
The oak is quarter sawn, the design from the end of the industrial age, when artisans turned to nature for material inspiration—and refuge. Warren Hile (above) was a plein air painter when he and his horticulturalist wife, Gillian, bought a bungalow in Sierra Madre in the 1980s. They couldn’t afford an original Morris chair, a quintessential example of Arts & Crafts furniture, so he built his own. Today the Warren Hile Studio in Monrovia handcrafts striking renditions of pieces from William Morris, Gustav Stickley, and Charles Limbert, using their exact measurements and finishing them to give a patina of age. » Available atHistoric Lighting, 114 E. Lemon Ave., Monrovia, 626-303-4899.
Affixing a door with a picturesque knob from Martin Pierce—an art nouveau oak tree in bronze, say, or an amoeboid number in gleaming steel—is a gesture of discreet defiance against the mundane. Pierce, an expat Briton, sculpts his concepts for handles, towel racks, cabinet pulls, and the like in wax or wood, gravitating toward nature themes without getting precious. “We really have no interest in replicating what’s already out there,” says Anne Pierce, his wife and business partner. “Being original in what we do is ever so important.” They also have a line of furniture. » 323-939-5929.
After Frank Gehry vacated the Santa Monica studio where Disney Hall was conceived, Emily Kroll was hired by the new film studio tenant to create furniture that harmonized with the office’s plywood interiors. Her subsequent line, Ekla Home, features several of those pieces, including the spare, elegant “Adam Sofa.” The “Adam” is constructed from sustainably harvested alder and wrapped in organic mohair or hemp, but Kroll is happy to work with other upholstery (it looks great in leather) the customer provides. » Available at Lost & Found, 6320 Yucca St., Hollywood, 323-856-5872.
Rebecca Johnson and Jeff Klarin of Bughouse Art & Design get their ideas from eras as disparate as Darwin’s London and ’70s punk. For her limited-edition “Sid Table Lamp,” Johnson pierced the black metal shade of an IKEA lamp with chrome-finished spikes, an homage to the leather wristband favored by the Sex Pistols’ doomed bassist. Her husband’s “Super Oldies Side Table” resembles a tattered record collection but is actually plywood sheathed in a digital image of album covers from his own stash. » By appointment only. 5046 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock, 323-257-0380.
At the Sidecar Furniture workshop in Temple City, David Johnson shapes sustainably harvested wood into graceful midcentury updates. His low-profile mahogany and canary wood TV console harks back to Danish modern buffets of the ’50s, while his vintage-mod walnut and elm desk has the airy simplicity of a drafting table. Johnson’s boxlike “PB Vase” is a study in adaptive reuse. The rectangular body is Alaskan yellow cedar salvaged from bench seats that were once in Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium. The walnut inlay comes from urban trees killed by insects, and the water vessel within is an empty peanut butter jar. » 415-517-9898.
The lounger and ottoman from Pad Outdoor put the lie to the old saw about form following function. Composed of flowing aluminum tubing and tightly wound PVC cord, the leisure chair may be one of the most athletic pieces of furniture you’ll see poolside. Its legs look like those of a runner about to spring from the starting block; its arched back brings to mind a pole-vaulter clearing 16 feet. Not that you’ll feel the slightest bit motivated to get up once you’ve parked yourself with a margarita or two on a sunny afternoon. » Available at A+R, 1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 310-392-9128.
Stylish furniture for felines? The “Hollywood Franklin Tower” is a lithe midcentury modern reinvention of the dowdy cat tree. Designed by German-born, L.A.-based architect Peter Sehorsch, the cat climber commandeers an IKEA floor-to-ceiling shelving pole to support an upsweep of potato chip-shaped perches of fiber-board and carpet. Sehorsch can customize every aspect of the tower, and as a companion piece he offers the “Mulholland Franklin Hideaway,” a short upholstered cat tunnel that doubles as lumbar support or footrest for you. » 310-990-7006.
A coffee table hewn from the wall of a carriage house, a side table of Douglas fir rescued from a home that stood at the corner of Sunset and Curson: There’s a back story to much of what Samuel Moyer gives shape to in his workshop near skid row, but the evocative power of wood is the central theme. His “Chambers Platform Bed” is a smooth, low rectangle knit together with mortise-and-tenon as well as dovetail joinery. At the head-board, however, nature’s limitless geometry is given free rein: an irregular silhouette of the enormous cross section of a black walnut tree. » Available at Ford & Ching,718 N. Figueroa St., Chinatown, 213-620-9971.
When the proud new owner of a historic Craftsman begins looking into installing a stained glass dining room window or restoring the front door’s colorful sidelights, Judson Studios in Highland Park is a mandatory phone call. Now 112 years old, Judson produced the stained glass for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis and Hollyhock houses and worked with Greene & Greene’s building contractor. When supervising a project, fifth-generation owner David Judson can refer to a century of archives to achieve the best color and pattern. » 200 S. Avenue 66, Highland Park, 800-445-8376.
Tanya Aguiñiga delights in blurring distinctions. Her “Seating Trays,” made of bent plywood and walnut veneer, are legless chairs that resemble a midcentury serving set; they’re stored in a rack that flips over to form a table. She’ll take an Eames dining chair and smother it in orange Gotland wool felt—an act of friendly sabotage aimed at midcentury purity. Holding an M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design and raised in Tijuana, Aguiñiga also brings her radical’s gift for reinvention to bags, bracelets, and accessories. » Available at ReForm School, 3902 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 323-906-8660.