In the 1980s, April Greiman, Deborah Sussman, Saul Bass and the rest of the design community regularly congregated in West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center and nearby areas for all sorts of star-studded events. But the West Side has become just so last century, as the cultural geography of L.A. has experienced a seismic shift. Mind you, it hasn’t quite disappeared into the Pacific Ocean, but its art and culture has become rather lackluster. These days, the lights are much brighter downtown.
To cite just one of many recent examples that include many AIGA-sponsored events, about a week ago, luminaries such as Louise Sandhaus, Stefan Bucher and yes, April Greiman packed the newly-relocated A+D Architecture and Design Museum for a talk by AIGA Medalist Sean Adams. The affair was part of a unique design exhibition of printing prowess titled “Pushing the Press,” which I covered for Print a few days ago. Where designers once were so insular that they wouldn’t even think of driving east of Fairfax Avenue, design studios are currently blossoming and taking root, not only downtown but Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Pasadena and other points east as well.
In 2014, GQ covered downtown’s “exploding” arts district in a feature titled “America’s Next Great City:” “Right now, Downtown is like Brooklyn, but that’s going to change. This is going to be Manhattan. And all the outlying areas, the rest of Los Angeles, that’s going to be the boroughs.” This was followed by last May’s New York Times report on “Los Angeles and its Booming Creative Class:” “Long a gritty urban backwater, Downtown has become a trend factory, brimming with Beaux-Arts loft condos, galleries, groundbreaking restaurants like Baco Mercat and, inevitably, a new Ace Hotel to serve as ‘Portlandia’ south.” And now you can add the new Broad Museum to this steadily expanding list.
The A+D Museum, which actually began in downtown’s historic Bradbury Building, has moved back from mid-Wilshire to its present comfortably warm home built of Brooklyn-going-on-Manhattan-brick-and-wood. It’s just a block away from SCI-Arc and surrounded by a still-bursting gallery scene. And p.s.: it’s also a short stroll to excellent Little Tokyo restaurants as well as MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary.
All things considered, the mere notion of traveling west of Vermont Avenue these days just seems pointless.
Below photos of the A+D Museum’s “Pushing the Press” exhibit by M. Dooley.
More on Location: Not so long ago, Ellen Shapiro covered a similar topic for PRINT. After all, every discussion about the NYC design scene has to include a discussion of real estate. And like L.A., it looks like design is moving downtown.
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