With a style owner Scotti Sitz describes as "modern natural," the new Los Angeles boutique Garde inhabits a tranquil and airy space stocked with eclectic handmade items.
Summoning her years of experience in fashion and interior design, Stitz filled the richly textured, light-filled shop with merchandise highlighted by carefully selected furnishings like hand-crocheted collars by Nathalie Costes, 2550º Candles and jewelry by Naomi Maslon arranged on tables made by Kristan Cunningham and Scott Jarrell.
We caught up with Sitz to learn more about the store from its opening to the constantly evolving collections she curates.
How would you describe Garde?
We are definitely a gift shop with home accessories. I wanted the opportunity to bring in designers and artists who weren't necessarily represented here. I can mix my reasonably priced quilts and pillows with maybe a more luxurious cashmere throw. When something has a price point here that is a little bit higher, there is a reason for it. There is a process behind it in terms of the work and the material. Not just for the sake of being a luxury good.
With so many shopping neighborhoods to choose from in Los Angeles, why did you decide to open on Beverly Boulevard?
I used to live in this neighborhood in the Beverly corridor a few years ago and I have watched it evolve. It's become a destination for high-end vintage furniture, great restaurants and accessories. We looked at this space. It was a dump. The building is from the early 1940s and it had not been touched. The first business here was a bank of operators. It was the pre-411. So if you wanted to know who sold apple pies in Los Angeles between Fairfax and La Brea, these operators would tell you where to go. When we got this space there were the old phone jacks all along this wall. Then 30 years ago an electronic repair shop opened here. There was linoleum and false ceilings. The skylight was boarded up. We gutted the space.
Why the name Garde?
We named the store Garde, keeping the idea of something new and different, and I also like the definition as it applies to "en garde, the stance in fencing to prepare for your match.
What is the philosophy behind the things you include in the store's collection?
I ask myself, "Would I put it in my house?" "Would I wear that item?" If I have to say no, then it does not belong here. Except for some basics at good price points, everything has to have a story behind it. Everyone I represent has a story to tell. They have a process to tell and a unique and wonderful product. I love a good story.
What is your latest favorite item in the shop?
My new obsession is Christien Meindertsma. She's from the Netherlands. She is represented by Thomas Eyck. What I love about her is she comes up with a concept for a product design and takes it to an end product. I fell in love with her flax project a couple of years ago. Meindertsma commissioned a farmer to plant the flax seeds. Then she designed her flax collections, the flax ropes she makes into lighting fixtures. I also sell her wool Urchin poufs. If you go on her website you'll see pictures of the sheep. They are all numbered. I love seeing the photos before and after they have been sheared.
Who are some of the designers that inspired Garde's style?
I love Vincent Van Duysen pottery. He is a huge inspiration to me in terms of his look and design. The ceramic canisters with a sand-blasted white oak lid. The first time I got them in they weren't even here for 24 hours. Something like that you have to touch. It has a softness to it that is just beautiful. It's the same with Sara Paloma's pieces. Right now I am sold out of her work, except for one vase. We had a collection in when I first opened that I would literally make everyone touch because it was so exquisite and feels like suede. I also feel that way about the hand-blown glass vessels with cast brass botanical stoppers by Lindsey Adelman.
Tell us about the apparel you have in store right now.
They are from a fashion house in India called Injiri. Everything is hand-done—the beading, the tassels, the lace, the buttons, the embroidery. There is a lot of workmanship that goes into these garments. I like the idea of carrying things that are good basics that can cross over. The scarves can be worn by men or women. The shirts are more of a year-round garment.
Who made the leather bags hanging on the wall?
They are one-of-a-kind. The designer is T Smith Knowles. She's local. Everything is hand-done, the stitching, the beadings are antique. The workmanship that goes into those bags is just exquisite. They really are unique, all hand-signed and numbered. The leather is the finest and really light-weight. She will even customize the strap for each customer.
Why do you do this?
I think what is so wonderful about this time is that there are so many amazing artists. It is the best time to do something like this. I can showcase my favorite artists and designers and many people who's work is not represented everywhere else.