Most weekends I tell myself that I am going to be productive and take advantage of every spare moment I have in the day to work on my side projects, but truthfully very often that creative streak and motivation doesn’t feel the same way. To get a little inspiration a friend and I ventured to Downtown LA to visit the Unique LA market to see small business owners who were full of that creative spirit I was looking for. The event could be described as the mecca of hipster-crafting, with many a succulent, ceramic, and cold-pressed coffee to entertain the shoppers. I was in heaven and each vendor stall introduced me to a local designer or artist that I would have otherwise never met. The Unique LA market is part of of the State of Unique network that also hosts shows in San Francisco, New York, and online. It’s a place to support local artists and bring their made-in-America work to the masses.
The downtown journey began at the Ace Hotel to pick up a coffee then head over to the market center. Immediately you could get a sense of what was to come based on the plywood signs and thin metal plant holders that welcomed each guest at the door. Walking up and down the stalls I carefully selected a few things I wanted to buy for my closet and home, while my friend picked out essential oil candles and a delicate gold bracelet. I happened upon the designer of Hayworth and Heart, who has a delightfully feminine approach to cotton, leather, and rope wall-hangings, all in manageable small sizes. I chose a gold accented version with fluffy white cotton for the office. My ceramic love was a bit overstimulated, but I found one of my favorite representations of the craft with the artists of KLAI. Their white glazed pieces are accented with the most beautifully shocking illustrations of girls, with exaggerated eyes, small gold teeth, and bed-head hair. A set of these cups would be quite the centerpiece at a dinner party. Robert Siegel was another talented ceramicist who mixes painterly strokes of color to rim his bowls along with metallic gold bands for a high end impact. Whimsical fruit tea towels were abundant at Tina Produce and her packaging in actual fruit cartons won, in my eyes, for one of the best re-purposed gift-wrapping ideas. My friend picked up a delicately scented candle from Violet and Lark. Her amber glass filled choices are made with essential oils so the perfume isn’t overbearing. The rose version was one of my favorite because it actually smelled like the flower rather than a processed version of the bloom. The usual faces were there like Hedley and Bennett, the prolific barista apron outfitters whose finely detailed wares include a lining that prevents curling at the bottom of the aprons to fabrics sourced from Japan, Italy, and Turkey.
The afternoon was what I needed to get that inspiration and creativity going. Not only did I learn about the talented underground of Los Angeles, but I saw how the small business owners and talented artists and designers are building a market for artisan goods, one that’s already competing with the name brands and department stores of the world.