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Twentieth’s Second Act

With a new location and a host of fresh designs on offer, Twentieth gallery is poised for the future.

The designer, at left, with Twentieth founder Stefan Lawrence

“I was a fashion photographer in New York City before moving to Los Angeles and switching careers,” says Stefan Lawrence, owner of renowned design shop Twentieth. As he marks his 15th year in the business—the just rewards of a keen eye—Lawrence is relocating the store to the corner of Beverly and Gardner, opposite historic Pan Pacific Park.

“The ability to own my own location and put my stamp on it architecturally” is what lured Lawrence to the new site. But don’t expect a brick building similar to the many that populate the neighborhood. Lawrence and Neil Denari of Neil M. Denari Architects have created a bronzed 3-D exterior skin that sets the store apart by leaps and bounds.

Within the 6,000-square-foot bow-truss structure, which features 23-foot ceilings and seven skylights, Lawrence has corralled some of the finest designer pieces in the world—a mix of emerging and established brands. When Twentieth first opened, the focus was on vintage pieces, but that has shifted to contemporary work. “There are so many ways to discover new talent,” says Lawrence, who counts shows like the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in Manhattan and Milan’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile as major resources, when the talent doesn’t find him. “I watch people as they work and when the time feels right, we join forces,” he says. “If they start out with a sense of quality, it is only refined as time goes by.”

A recent addition to Twentieth’s roster is Sami Hayek, a talented furniture designer who happens to be the younger brother of actress Salma Hayek. “I feel like I’ve know Stefan for 100 years,” jokes Hayek, who first met the gallery owner at an event in 2002. “He stood out not only because he is, like, 3 meters tall, but because he was asking things like, ‘Are you using a high-frequency press, and if so, how long is the female part pressed against the male part before the UV glue sets off?’” Not your usual party chitchat. “Later I learned he was the owner of Twentieth, which was, and still is, my favorite space for design.”

“Stefan understands what it takes to put a piece of furniture together,” continues Hayek, who has created everything from furniture lines for Target to a private Bentley jet. No matter the client, the philosophy of Hayek’s work remains the same. “I focus on using objects or space to tell a story, to narrate a piece of culture,” he explains. “I like to explore materials and the ways they can tell the tale that I want to articulate.” Hayek, who was born in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, and studied environmental design at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, works with artisans in small Mexican communities, as well as high-tech companies here in California, to craft his pieces. He’s also at work on several concept restaurants and a residential project with Studio Pali Fekete Architects, which recently completed the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

“I’m very excited about 2014,” adds Hayek. “And the new Twentieth will be an architectural asset for the city. It emanates beauty to pedestrians, bikers and drivers alike.” Just wait until they step inside. 7470 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 323.904.1200

Twentieth Faves
At Twentieth, designs by leading figures like Tom Dixon, Marcel Wanders and Zaha Hadid mingle with exciting newcomers. Here, five of our favorite finds:

1. Opposites Attract
Videre Licet describes its new furniture line as “conceptual glamour,” a tongue-in-cheek description of a design agenda that plays with the paradox of mixing references to the excesses of glamour with the more austere elements of minimalism.
2. Bright Young Thing
Brooklyn-based Bec Brittain has studied industrial design, architecture and philosophy, all of which play into her geometric light fixtures. Many of the designs are constructed with LED tubes, making them modular. The shape is entirely up to you.
3. California Cool
Reza Feiz, the self-taught founder of Phase Design, takes inspiration from his L.A. surroundings and melds a midcentury aesthetic with a contemporary West Coast edge. Be it an outdoor chaise or a coffee table, the designs are balanced and dynamic.
4. Finders Keepers
One part vintage components and two parts clever design, lighting firm Apparatus (spearheaded by Gabriel Hendifar and Jeremy Anderson) delivers eclectic, hand-assembled pieces that incorporate metals, painted glass and even found objects.
5. Material Matters
Los Angeles-based Scala Luxury creates exceptionally handcrafted, one-of-a-kind tables, nightstands and desks featuring brass, gold leaf, shagreen and parchment. Just make sure what you put on them is worthy.