There's nothing like receiving great house ware gifts. And LA has some of the greatest house ware stores on earth, crammed full of stuff for anyone on your list, from a strict modernist to a francophile. So rejoice, and enjoy decking someone else's halls.
Ige: This airy store is home to a sort of twisted Victorian aesthetic as reinterpreted by designer and owner Helene. Her window displays are always compelling yet offbeat. Her carefully curated selection of John Derian goods (ranging from classically pretty to fairly risque) somehow mesh seamlessly with smart ass paper goods, delicate jewelry, and her own luxurious silk screened velvet pillows. Added to this is the incredible hand-picked selection of vintage china animals and objects, ranging from dogs to dinosaurs (I give a different one to a friend every holiday and birthday; she has quite a motley crew by now). Whether you need a more formal gift or a funny stocking stuffer, this store is a standout.
7382 Beverly Blvd.
G. Gibson: I've written about this store before. Owner Gary Gibson has so many fascinating things in his loft-like space that it's hard to keep track of them all. The taste can best be described as idiosyncratically cool. You never know what you're going to find, from a collection of antique mallets to original artwork. Although some of the goods aren't vintage and are mass produced, it all looks uniquely wonderful and slightly edgy. Gary's goods might not be great for pure modernist spaces, but for anyplace else this is the perfect store. Go in and get lost. Plus, he's so nice and happy to chat it up, which is refreshing in Los Angeles.
7352 Beverly Blvd.
OK: Into classic modern? Then you'll fall in love with OK. Devoted to classic, though not cold, modernism, the goods at OK range from Ittala glasses to limited edition books to some of the most gorgeous non-frilly jewelry around. And OK particularly shines during the holidays, because they source and pre-wrap gift items for sale that are actually excellent picks (this saves lots of time, trust me). For the big spender, there's an equally big selection of venerable Comme les Garcons wallets and accessories (a fab gift for someone you like a whole lot). Plus, owner Larry (who walks the modernist talk and lives in a real Neutra), is always willing to explain and extrapolate about his wares.
8303 W. Third St.
Heath Ceramics: Technically, Heath Ceramics was born in Northern California. But, their huge storefront on Beverly Blvd. also hosts plenty of works from local ceramicists, so I think it counts as a locally owned store. Besides, the dishes, serving pieces and vases are just so casually cool in such a quintessentially LA way. They fit beautifully in any Craftsman home, but I have a whole set of dishes that look great in my Spanish abode. The store also sells a good range of seconds, so if you're on a tight gift budget you can save a lot and the giftee will never be the wiser. Do check out the vases; they look great even without flowers.
7525 Beverly Blvd.
Plastica: Have a problem with plastic? Get over yourself! You might as well use it, since plastic molecules never break down and are never going away. Besides, Plastica offers green products and wonderful home accessories for everyone. Floppy storage baskets, felt coasters, tons of kids' toys (check out the multi-colored wood cubes, for instance) make great gifts and stuffers. Plus, there's something so exuberant about the bright, acid colors everywhere.
8405 W. Third St.
Lost & Found: I warned you that Lost & Found would make a repeat appearance. This row of stores along Yucca in Hollywood has lovely, upscale things for the home that doesn't want to look too upscale, if you get my drift. To that end, there's a rather impressive assortment of Missoni throws and blankets, mixed with organic looking wooden cutting boards, useless yet precious items like old-fashioned keys, plus vintage stuff. It's all put together with owner Jamie's distinctive insouciance; nothing here is left to chance, yet nothing looks like it's trying too hard. This is a great gift stop for that difficult person on your list who has exacting taste.
6314 Yucca St.
A+R: There used to be two A+R outposts. Recently, the Silverlake branch closed, so now you're relegated to either online or heading out to Venice's Abbey Kinney (luckily, that's no hardship). If you're on the hunt for innovative, new modern items for the home, you probably can't do better than A+R. Ranging from the useless to the well-designed and useful (most notably their selection of kitchen items), the products here are the ones that get featured in every magazine's gift guide. A+R's owners Andy and Rose have a definite knack for forecasting the next home stuff trend, making a gift from here sure to please anyone who demands the latest and greatest before it hits the madding crowd.
1121-1 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
TableArt: Oh, god, the good taste featured here. Seriously, TableArt's unparalleled flatware, china and accessories make Barney's housewares department look like Walmart after a markdown sale. Everything here is perfect. If you're at all enraptured by table settings, this store will make you drool and desire. Fortunately, not everything here costs a nightmarish fortune; some items are quite reasonable and will make you look like one fabulous gifter. Plus, they gift wrap their wares in an assortment of colored fabric and ribbon, which is just beyond elegant. This place makes you want to throw a dinner party, just so you could justify dressing your table in all TableArt's glories.
7977 Melrose Ave.
Fitsu: Looking for modern tableware? Fitsu is the right place. There's nothing frilly or silly here, nothing earthy or hippy or dippy. Fitsu deals in the plain modern table done right. When you're buying for a minimalist, this is the store to hit. There's tons of Alessi, plenty of humorous ashtrays and home accessories. I'll admit that there's some overlap with the goods from A+R, but Fitsu seems a bit more in line with corporate gifts; this a great place to buy something for your boss, business partner, or important client (in fact, they do a brisk business in corporate gift baskets that are a far cry from a crummy basket of mini-muffins).
7970 Melrose Ave.
Maison Midi: This is Parisian cool central. This lovely store (connected to American Rag and boasting its own very nice little cafe) features china, linens and accessories in line with a casual cafe vibe. There are exotic African and Moroccan touches along with classic French chairs and cookware. Be sure to check out the napkins and glassware, too; the prices are pretty reasonable and it makes for an impressive gift. After you're done, plant yourself down for a civilized lunch and coffee.
150 S. La Brea