If fate had not destined me to become a film producer and lately a journalist, I probably would have become an architect. All my life I have been fascinated with the art of creating impressive buildings....which may explain why I am trying to help some friends remake the iconic architectural movie, Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead," with Gary Cooper and Eleanor Parker (who died this week), about the principled architect who blows up his majestic building rather than let it be bastardized. And along with this interest in architecture comes an allied preoccupation with interior design....what goes into buildings after they are erected. Which will explain why I acted this week when, while having lunch at Madeo, my companion told me about some amazing furniture he had seen in a showroom diagonally across from the restaurant. I walked over to Christopher Guy's showrooms at 8900 Beverly Blvd. at the corner of Swall and saw some of the most remarkable and exciting furniture I have ever seen. Can furniture be exciting...yes, if it is unique-looking and well made. And the articles I saw here are a rare combination of elegance, invention, and sophistication that touched my love for true artisanship.
Exterior of the showroom.
I was told that all of his furniture is made on the Indonesian island of Java, hand-carved from their native mahogany, allied with rich natural fabrics into a glamorous, sexy profile. At the entrance of the Showrooms was a dazzling chaise lounge...yes, a couch.....which was so stunning I was awestruck. It was long and curved and covered with a rich red velvet. I hesitantly asked Wendy Williams, the showroom manager, how much it was, she looked it up and said it sold for $13,500. The price could vary depending upon what fabric I chose. (Later I went to the website, www.christopherguy.com, and saw a short video of the making of this chaise in the factory in Java ....fascinating. Although it would look great in my living room, I passed, but I then proceeded into the showroom to see the other wonders.
And there I encountered Christopher Guy Harrison, the Englishman who created it all.....a self-effacing fellow who said he was visiting L.A. for the weekend from his home in Singapore. He offered me a coffee and we talked. "These past 20 years since I started designing and manufacturing furnishings have seen many changes in the market, and today companies have to be nimble to adapt to the new trends. We maintain a a dedicated team of twenty hghly-skilled engineers for our website and system development, both of which are essential if we want to grow." He went on to tell me that all of his furniture is designed and manufactured in-house in Java. He said that in September he had opened a 20,000 sq. ft. showroom in the historic New York Design Center. It contains three penthouse suites of furniture collections, each portraying varying lifestyles.
Christopher told me that he was born in Britain but was raised in Spain and France, and currently resides between Singapore, London, Los Angeles and New York, "My international background allows me to draw on inspiration from everything I experience around me, taking elements from different periods of history and transforming them into designs of what I hope are elegance and sophistication." He went on to tell me that he had provided furnishings to the Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas and Macau, the Phoenix Resort in Sanya, China, and the Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo. He then added that his furnishing were seen in such Hollywood blockbusters as "Casino Royale," "The Devil Wears Prada," and "Hangover."
Another interesting bed design.
I guess it's a little too late for me to study architecture..but at least I can still appreciate the genius which goes into creating beautiful objects of design like that stunning red velvet couch. I suggest that you stop by his place on Beverly and see what I mean.
To subscribe to Jay Weston's Restaurant Newsletter ($70 for twelve monthly issues) email him at email@example.com