Rose Apodaca and Andy Griffith of A+R are on a mission to fill the world with their favorite designs from around the globe, from the Japanese Lucano stepladder to JumpFromPaper's Cheese! Satchel. Their mission began with combing the world both literally and virtually, scouring design sites and boutiques for unusual products to feature in the A+R store and website. Now, seven years since Apodaca and Griffith opened their first tiny shop in Silver Lake, California, A+R has grown in inventory, community and, at long last, space.
In 2007, Apodaca and Griffith closed the doors to their original location in order to open a roomier, 1,200-square-foot space on Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach. The pair stumbled upon their dream space in the burgeoning district of La Brea and took the next step toward expanding into a larger design gallery that would accommodate a growing collection, as well as parties and events for their artist and designer friends and customers.
With enough room to stretch out, they continue to share their enthusiasm for contemporary design with their creative fans that flock to their nest. We visited the newest addition to the A+R empire just as new inventory was arriving to stock their bigger, better digs, and talked to Apodaca and Griffith to discuss their latest milestone.
Why did you choose La Brea for the new store location?
We actually were not looking for a second store site when the year began. But after we were invited to check out this space, we realized it was too good not to go for it. The street is undergoing a revival, not unlike Abbot Kinney was when we moved there in 2007, and we saw the potential. It's right next to a parking garage, and that it's covered in a mural by our pal Shepard Fairey also seemed fortuitous. Our business in furniture, lighting and other larger pieces has been growing with both consumer and trade clients and this space—at 2,300 square feet and with its 20-foot ceilings—seemed like the ideal store/showroom. So, as with every other aspect of lives together—from launching A+R nine months after we began dating and every decision together since—we did it.
What was the design process for setting up the larger, gallery-style space?
As we have since our very first tiny shop in Silver Lake, which we closed in 2009 to open a larger space on Abbot Kinney, we consulted our friend, local architect Barbara Bestor. Together we came up with a plan that would allow us to constantly do something with this cavernous space. We installed a ceiling grid to suspend dozens of lights, or even do something crazy like hang a bunch of chairs. We built out an office and bathroom—in large part so we'd have water access for in-store parties, especially dinner parties and that sort of thing. We left the concrete floors and brick walls raw so the colorful product would be the star.
What plans do you have for the new space and how are they different from those you had for the original Silver Lake space and your current space on Abbot Kinney?
We are definitely excited about being able to showcase much of the furniture, rugs and shelving that, for the most part, has only lived on our site, with occasional appearances at the 1,200-square-foot Abbot Kinney A+R. At La Brea, we will be able to host lectures, bring together niche groups such as architects or design writers, and throw dining events.
How do you approach curating inventory for the stores?
A business like ours has been as much about the Internet as anything. Since 2005, we always research design blogs—Cool Hunting being among the first we studied! Now that we're better known, we receive submissions weekly from designers and brands worldwide. We do frequent shows annually such as Maison & Objet in Paris, ICFF in New York and the Milan Furniture Fair, though, admittedly, we prefer to veer off the beaten track to search out fledgling designers during these circuses. Ultimately, we make our choice based on a mutual interest and excitement. If it makes us both happy, we order it. About 98% of the time, it's pretty instant between us.
Interview continued after the jump.
Images by Ramona Rosales for A+R