Interiors — Riviera October 2010
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Home Front Shops
AnnaMaria Stephens

Down Lo

O. C. design blogger Jonathan Lo maps out his SoCal hit list of top design fi nds

“It doesn’t matter where you live—it’s how you live,” says Jonathan Lo, founder and creative director of J3 Productions, a boutique multidisciplinary design agency. Easy for him to say. T e O.C. native, who shares his stylish Irvine pad with a “Jackahuahua” named Pepé, spends countless hours scouring the coastline and web for the coolest home and lifestyle designs.

He chronicles his fi nds on His addictive blog, Happy Mundane, which he launched in 2006. (T e tagline: “T ere’s beauty in your dishsoap.”) Lo, boyish at 38, describes his posts as “mundane design musings.” Hardly! He covers everything from clever ad campaigns to potato chips, textiles to tote bags.

Last November, Lo art-directed J3’s At Your Leisure, a limited-edition print ’zine fi lled with vignettes of texture and color, which he refers to as “candy to make your eyes happy.” Lo plans on following up with more issues of the publication.

Mundane? More, please.

Lo’s Favorite Spots: Orange County

Emmo Home at South Coast Plaza

The specs: “Owner Andrew Kim originally started this shop because he couldn’t fi nd a local retailer that carried a modern, minimal shoe rack he saw on a design blog,” explains Lo. “Now Emmo Home is a go-to source for contemporary design, with a huge selection of kitchen gadgets and tabletop items. Great for a wedding or housewarming gift.” The score: “Desk accessories by Anything Design. T ey come in a bright turquoise, which color gurus Pantone dubbed the color for 2010. ”

Seed People’s Market

The specs: Lo likes this ecoconscious boutique in Costa Mesa’s T e Camp. “T eir motto is ‘Products with a purpose’ and everything they carry is handmade, recycled, or made from sustainable materials. T ey also off er great classes and in-store events.” The score: “Woolly Pocket Wally planters allow you to create a ‘living wall’ or vertical garden without heavy construction. T ey’re ideal for those without much outdoor space.” Tip: Fill the Wally with succulents, which are low-maintenance and look smart with any style of home design.

Orange County Museum of Art

The specs: “OCMA is one of the best-kept designresource secrets in Orange County,” says Lo. “Aside from being a great museum for contemporary art, it also houses a fantastic little gift shop. It may be small in size but it is jam-packed with all the latest design pieces.” The score: “I love the Copenhagen carafes by Roost that are made of handblown clear glass and come with a round, natural-wood stopper. OCMA also carries incredible glass vases by local OC glass master Caleb Siemon.”


The specs: “When decorating a space, I think it’s really important to mix in a piece or two that has some history to it. It adds a great visual layer and gives a room some soul. Trove in Laguna Beach is a perfect place to start. Every piece they carry has a story to it. Owners Heather and Bobby Lee scour the globe for an amazing array of industrial, rustic and ethnic antiques and artifacts.” The score: “T ey recently relocated their store to a much larger space so now there’s even more to drool over.”

Lo’s Favorite Spots: San Diego


The specs: According to Lo, Solo is a must-see in Solana Beach’s Cedros Design District. “Te 4,000-squarefoot space houses a bunch of merchant spaces that offer a unique variety of home décor and gifts.” The score: “Te gorgeous wall-mounted starbursts that can be found in Solo’s midcentury-modern furniture area. And if you’re more the industrial/vintage type, all of the repurposed and curious pieces selected by merchant Jennifer Price will be right up your alley.”


The specs: Lo makes a point of stopping by this Little Italy design mecca every time he’s in San Diego. “Teir vast showroom carries a lot of hard-to-find modern pieces and accessories, and includes a patio courtyard that features contemporary outdoor furniture.” The score: “I’m obsessed with the ASA Selection line of ceramic pots and serving ware. Mixture is one of the few places in SoCal that carries this German line and I can’t seem to leave the store without picking up a new piece.”


The specs: Another staple on Cedros is Chicweed. “Since an integral part of the SoCal lifestyle is being outside, our outdoor spaces need just as much attention as our indoor ones. Chicweed is a great place to find all the accents you’ll need. Tey also offer design consultation.” The score: Lo suggests digging through Chicweed’s “rainbow” of outdoor rugs, succulents, terrariums and container gardens. “I recently picked up one of their barnacle clusters which has a small air plant attached to it. It’s super easy to maintain and adds a nice little hit of nautical chic.”