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York Boulevard, Highland Park: A hub of hip, really

Matters of Space Katerina and PJKaterina Gabbro, left, and PJ Roden opened Matters of Space on York Boulevard in March 2011. They live in the area and waited about a year for the right space to open up for their interior design consultation business.

The retail operation at the front of their space was conceived as a way of encouraging their target clientele — first-time home buyers seeking affordable design consultation — to access the office in back. “We just love the energy here,” Roden said of York’s evolution.

Matters of Space pottery group

All of artist Lily King’s bud vases and pots at Matters of Space are just $15 to $40.

Matters of Space tables
Matters of Space also sells the furniture designs of owners Gabbro and Roden. These little side tables are walnut boxes with lift-off lids, so magazines, coasters and remote controls can be stowed out of sight; the bases are powder-coated steel. The tables are made in Los Angeles and sell for $250 apiece.

Meridian Jay Dunton
A few doors down, furniture craftsman Jay Dunton opened Meridian Mercado Deseño in November. After closing his Beverly Boulevard decor store Shelter, the Highland Park resident continued to design and fabricate his own furniture. He built the steel-and-glass room divider specifically for his store but has been fielding requests to replicate it ever since he opened.

Meridian Mercado Deseno 2
Dunton blackens steel to emphasize the rolled metal’s original mill marks, so the surface has a grain, almost like wood. He then waxes and buffs the tables by hand.

Meridian sculpture
Dunton augments his store with vintage finds and well as art, including sculpture that he welds using remnant pieces of steel from his furniture fabrication.

Meridian furnitureMeridian Mercado Deseño opened in a York Boulevard space that had been a shop selling the creative combination of medical supplies, Avon cosmetics and Sanrio trinkets.

Platform-York-Sarah-BradyContinuing down York, we met up with Sarah Brady, shown here holding a sweater by Kat Hunter. Brady, formerly a trend forecaster, and husband Alex Cole, an art director and production designer for commercials, opened Platform last April in what had been a marijuana dispensary. The couple, who live in the neighborhood, stock their store with housewares and decorative accessories, many by local artists, plus jewelry and clothes.

Platform York vases
Part of the mix at Platform: vases ($100 to $120) by local ceramist Roger Lee.

Platform York bowls
Platform also has a few of Lee’s serving bowls, hefty pieces on sale for $120 apiece.

Platform York Rachel Craven linens
Platform stocks the work of Los Angeles textile designer Rachel Craven, who hand-blocks Italian linen and finishes the pieces with metallic threads.

Platform York Ermie scarves
Also at Platform: Ermie scarves were designed by local artist Jennifer Perry Dodge and sewn in Highland Park. Each is 100% silk that has been digitally printed.

Possession Dan SandvickDan Sandvick parlayed his success selling vintage clothes across town at the Melrose Trading Post into his own York Boulevard store, Possession Vintage. Among his offerings: vintage sunglasses refitted with new lenses.

Possession VintageSandvick opened Possession Vintage about a year and a half ago.

Wombleton Records binsWombleton Records opened in September 2010 and was crowned by L.A. Weekly as the city’s best indie record store. The tiny shop is full of surprises, from the esoteric original-pressing LPs selling for $130 apiece to the Victorian decor. Custom record bins with turned wood legs sit under vintage-inspired wallpaper.

Wombleton Records doorThe frilly “W” stenciled onto the front door welcomes customers into the time warp that is Wombleton.

HPK Highland Park KitchenOne of the newest additions to York Boulevard: HPK, short for Highland Park Kitchen. A round of neighborhood applause for the new window linking the interiors to the street scene.

HPK Highland Park Kitchen 2
The brick-walled main dining room is complemented with a patio space in back. This photo was taken while a DJ set up for the opening party last week.
Ba restaurant York 2
Cross the street and you’ll find a different vibe at Ba, a country French restaurant preparing to open. Owners Julia Latané and James Graham let us peek inside at what Latané describes as baroque-meets-1980s-punk-rock interiors. Formerly a house framer and now head preparator at the Autry National Center, Latané not only conceived the design but nailed molding, wired chandeliers and did most of the other decorating work herself.
Ba restaurant York
The cotton-candy pink walls and jet-black framework help the restaurant feel “artist made and handcrafted,” Latané said, adding that her inspiration for the design was the Sofia Coppola film “Marie Antoinette.” Graham, the chef of Ba, said the restaurant doesn’t have a target opening date other than “soon, I hope.”

Glass Studio York

At the Glass Studio, Cathi Milligan not only sells handmade beads of her own design but teaches classes. DIYers can enroll in classes on torch work (for making baubles and beads) and kiln work (for “slumping” and folding projects such as tiles and plates).

Cafe de Leche Highland ParkThe evolution of York Boulevard started with the York, the bar and restaurant that opened in summer 2007, and Cafe de Leche, the coffeehouse pictured here, which opened in fall 2008.

Cafe-de-Leche-muralThe mural in Cafe de Leche was designed by David Freeland of Freeland Buck, the firm behind the look of Maximiliano down the street.
Cafe-de-Leche-signThe chartreuse letters for the cafe: a sign of modern life in an old L.A. neighborhood.

As mentioned near the top of the post, this is merely a sampling of sights along York. We’ll keep tabs on future openings, and we’ll be exploring other evolving neighborhoods throughout Southern California in the months to come. Suggestions welcome.


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– Craig Nakano

Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

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