Is Hammer and Spear the Hippest New Store in L.A.?
Do you ever sit at home wondering where you can find a set of Shepard Fairey-designed playing cards for your next poker tournament? Or maybe what store carries those 24-karat gold Karl Springer chairs you ache to add to your dining table?
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Well, it seems the folks at Hammer and Spear somehow heard your crazed mumbling. Power couple Scott Jarrell and Kristan Cunningham -- you might recognize the latter from HGTV's Design on a Dime -- bring their flair for design to a new store downtown that offers all sorts of unique objects.
The store's interior looks like something out of the pages of Dwell magazine; expect to spend a good amount of time just roaming the many sections and finding little treasures in every square inch.
Hammer and Spear opened to the public March 15 and the surrounding neighborhood gave it a warm reception. "We're still racing around and remerchandising since selling quite a bit of product in the first few days, but it's a great problem to have, and we're grateful for it," says Cunningham.
Each section of the store serves as inspiration for sprucing up your living area with unique objects like lighting fixtures, antique Playboy magazines and one sweet record player that perfectly projected Twin Shadow's crooning voice. One particularly odd product is Duke Cannon Supply Co.'s Big Ass Brick of Soap for men, described as an alternative to "feminine shower gels and accessories."
The store name comes from Jarrells's nickname for Cunningham, Hammer, and the meaning of his last name, which is "brave with spear." Jarrell even has the outline of a hammer tattooed on his forearm as a token of affection. Together they bill themselves as 'builders and hunters of lovely goods,' a phrase that decorates their business cards. Cunningham believes that if you're going to bring something into your home, it should be "the most lovely version" of the object that you can find.
The two act as curators, seeking out creative makers from not only the nearby arts district, like local artist Delphine and her line Humble Ceramics, but other places around the world. Cunningham recalls that before the store plans got serious, they asked artisans from their hometown of West Virginia about possibly selling their products.
Cunningham pinpoints the LIFE notebooks as some of her favorite objects, as she knows the Japanese makers regularly change the glue they use so that each page sounds the same when ripped out of its book. The couple hopes to carry objects like these that are not easy to find in L.A.
"Since SciArc is our neighbor, we want the students to look at us as a resource to supplement the amazing selection of goods that they have at their bookstore, immediately next door," says Cunningham. "So we offer writing instruments that they'll buy once and keep, and stationary goods like agendas and graph paper notebooks that are beautifully made. These mechanical pencils by Delfonics have been really popular, especially with older architects coming in --they're customers who know exactly what they want in their drafting arsenal."
The store carries luxurious items that require some willingness to spend but ultimately the store doesn't want to exclude visitors who might not feel comfortable with multiple zeroes.
"We hope that every customer leaves the store with something that they love and that fits into their budget," says Cunningham. "If someone sees this $5,000 couch and thinks 'I can't spend that kind of money today,' we hope they find and can't live without a beautiful handmade wooden spoon that cost $9, and are just as thrilled with their experience in our shop."
Hammer and Spear is at 255 South Santa Fe #101, dwntwn. (213) 928-0997.
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