If the phrase “high-end furniture showroom” leaves you feeling all Mantovani, then Ralph Pucci and his eponymous brand is the Jazz Age antidote. Walking through his new stand-alone Los Angeles showroom, Pucci is the epitome of relaxed sophistication. A progressive-jazz soundtrack fills the space, along with the eclectic collection of art, furniture and design objects that define the brand. Reflecting on why he chose L.A., Pucci says: “I feel L.A. right now is almost like New York in the ’70s. New York in the ’70s was much more experimental, much freer—it had raw energy. I think it’s really important to have raw energy, and that’s why I’m most excited about L.A.”
This is Pucci’s third stand-alone showroom in the U.S. and first on the West Coast. It’s a converted dance studio whose 15,000 square feet have been renovated in a sparing way, leaving the bones of the structure as a raw architectural background for some of the world’s most refined furniture. The showroom features furniture from around the world, from larger pieces to smaller ones.
Family-run businesses that curate and produce the work of the world’s best designers have been dominated by Italian names since the post-war period, becoming bywords for high-end furniture. Pucci’s production quantities are deliberately lower and his prices often higher than the larger Italian brands, but his status within the world of interior design ranks as high as anyone else’s. For the past two decades, his has become a unique voice among U.S. design circles.
Pucci’s thinking is big, and his new L.A. space mirrors that. “We needed a real place that represented what Pucci was about, a place where the furniture could really be seen and appreciated in the environment we create,” he says. “We can do sculpture shows here. We can do giant photography shows here.”
That rings very much true while walking through the gallery. Faces of Halston, Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry overlook the proceedings in the form of large-scale photography by Christopher Makos, whose work is showcased among the open- ing batch of artists regaling the walls. Those figures also loom large in the personal history of Pucci, whose career began in his father’s mannequin business in New York but evolved and was infused by the downtown scene of the ’70s and ’80s. What carries from that time, and remains central to Pucci’s character and business, is his openness to new ideas and desire to bring people from several disciplines together to appreciate the work and partake in the moment.
Some pieces Pucci and his team take production of; others are left in the hands of the designers and their atelier of craftspeople. One such maestro is Herve Van der Straeten, whose craftsmanship and imagination are centerpieces of Pucci’s collection. Produced by Van der Straeten in his Parisian workshops,recently granted Living Heritage Business status by France’s Ministry of Culture, the pieces range from monolithic stainless-steel consoles whose central volumes are hulled out by some vast cylinder to masterfully assembled clear acrylic boxes whose bevel-edged junctures are mated with a blood-red adhesive.
As design and art continue to overlap, Pucci’s new space speaks directly to that. Its location next to Regen Projects, one of the country’s most prestigious galleries, highlights the straddling Pucci is doing and his belief in the true art of furniture and how it endures.
“I love timeless furniture; I’m not into trendy furniture,” he says. “I’m not into anything trendy, in all honesty. My favorite music is jazz from the midcentury: Chet Baker, Miles Davis. Furniture should be around for a while.”