Retail profile: Rummage, Los Angeles
Vintage meets contemporary at designer Kishani Perera's 'expertly eclectic' shop
Susan Dickenson -- Home Accents Today, 9/1/2013 2:00:00 AM
Kishani Perera is a Los Angeles-based designer whose unique blending of eras, cultures and color have found favor with a growing roster of clients, generated a steady stream of coverage in shelter and lifestyle publications, and given rise to Rummage, her two-year-old retail showroom in West Hollywood.
Last April, Abrams Books published her 224-page Vintage Remix: The Interiors of Kishani Perera, and it's been an Amazon.com Top 25 decorating book ever since. The book's foreword and introduction were written by actors Gary Oldman and Molly Sims, two of the celebrity clients and Los Angelenos who are fans of Perera's unique vintage-meets-contemporary environments.
Her commercial projects include collaborations with West Elm and Art.com, and her business has been featured in a national print and television ad campaign for American Express. More recently, Perera, an experienced merchandise fabricator, has begun to focus some of her efforts on product development and the creation of a branded home collection.
Her aesthetic and store have been described by editors and visitors as whimsical, multicultural, unexpected, edgy, hip, chic, timeless, "a jewel box" and "a worldly and eclectic boutique" filled with magical, colorful treasures like dragon-emblazoned Tibetan rugs, ancient glass vitrines, handmade zinc tables and "Alice in Wonderland" chairs.
Design enthusiasts and clientele appreciate the chic/polished-yet-warm/comfortable knack she has for pulling it all together, as described in this Los Angeles Times review: "The Los Angeles designer proves that ‘eclectic' does not have to be code for ‘messy' or ‘absolute disarray.' The homes she decorates mix high-end furnishings with eBay and Etsy finds, flea market pieces, and mass-market purchases for rooms that reflect an individual's personality with warmth and often a touch of glamour."
Born to Sri Lankan parents, Perera grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles where she says she lived in a home "filled with gold Buddha statues," enjoyed vintage finds and decorating from an early age, and took classes in UCLA's design and architecture program.
Home Accents Today caught up with Perera at the summer Las Vegas Market, where she was invited by World Market Center to sign copies of her book and share her favorite finds at a market-sponsored seminar, Style Scouting.
Is this your first visit to the Las Vegas Market? No, my first was three years ago when I spent three days canvassing the market for the "Ahead of the Curve" seminar. I was a panelist with Mary McDonald and Darryl Carter. In October, I'll be making my first visit to High Point.
How would you describe your design style? I know "eclectic" is just so overused, but that's what it is. I am passionate about mixing elements from every era and from every country.
Your style of "eclectic" seems to have gained quite a following. What makes it so different? I think what I do is accessible to most people because I demonstrate that you don't have to have millions of dollars to have a beautiful home. A home is created through the personal touches that make an environment special to the person that lives there - which is why every one of my projects is totally different. I can look at it and see the common thread, and someone with a very trained eye can be like, "Yeah, I see you in all of those (vignettes)," but in the beginning when I shared my portfolio it was, "I don't get it, what's your style?" And I'd say, "It's not about me, I'm the facilitator. I have my own style. If you want to see what my style is, come see my place, or my shop. This is about you. I want to take you on the ride with me - get you involved, be your own designer, pull that out of you." Bring that to life, basically.
Do you have any rules or tips when it comes to combining vintage with new? It's definitely all about creating a balance. I don't want it to look like a page out of a catalog - how interesting is that? That means it can look like anybody else's living room. Conversely, if it's all flea market and vintage, it can look junky or like your great-grandma's house or something. It's a fine line, but achieving that balance is what I think makes a space fresh.
When you find these unique one-of-a-kind things, is it with a client in mind? Or do you just buy what you like? Both. I'm kind of thinking about everybody, and what I like. Sometimes clients aren't entirely sure about the more unusual pieces, and I have to sell them on it, or be prepared to hang on to it for a while. That's actually how the store began. I filled three enormous storage spaces, and I'd always dreamed of opening a store, so the time was right. And it has done well.
When and where did you open Rummage? Two years ago, in West Hollywood. La Cienega has been a main design district for years and now it's sort of spreading to the Beverly Boulevard area which is where we are. As more photos of my work became published, we began getting flooded with emails - "Where did you get that piece from? How did you do this? Where can we get these?" I found, in Los Angeles, there wasn't one place where you could get that and at different price points. I really wanted a space that anyone could drop in and shop, and enjoy spending hours doing so. My design office is upstairs and we're open six days a week.
Who's your average customer? It ranges from people in their 30s to their 60s, but I'm lucky to have a good, diverse group of people.
It's fun to read all the different terms editors have used to try to describe your shop. You must really have a lot of unusual items? A lot. That's my specialty - interesting things that you can't find anywhere else.
Any favorites? One of them would be an old 1920s dance hall fixture I found. It's a very interesting mirrored piece. So many people asked where I got it that I decided to reproduce it, so that's one of the pieces in my collection. But there are so many. Right now we have these iron chairs that are such an unusual shape, from France, I think. And we just sold an interesting old Egyptian orrery.
And now you're starting to focus on more product development? Yes. I've been designing pieces my whole career so it just seemed like a natural evolution. And again, I know there's a desire for it because I get inquiries from people every time something is published. We can make it for you, but to make one piece it's just not cost-effective, so I'd love to be able to start producing pieces for manufacturers, get it out there.
Which product category do you most enjoy working with? Decorative accessories and lighting are my favorite things in the world. They really personalize a space. I also love rugs.
How have things changed since you first started in this business? When I first became interested in design, maybe 20 years ago, design was a totally different beast. Everything was silk and expensive and very fancy, and I thought, "I love design, but nobody would like what I do because I don't do that." I liked to go to flea markets and reupholster things. What I didn't realize then was that a lot of people shared that feeling - there just weren't any magazines reflecting it, it wasn't in the mainstream. Now that people are embracing imperfections in pieces, it's a very exciting time in design. Some of the vintage reproduction pieces are so true, you can't tell the difference. Your house no longer has to be all Moroccan... or mid-century. You don't know what "style" it is - it's just a beautiful house.
Address: 7374 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90036
Photo credits: Darra Baker, Sharon Taftian Emanuel, Bethany Nauert
- Jul 10, 2012
- Sep 28, 2013
- Aug 2, 2013