September 2010

Retail Therapy Group Dynamics

  • Phase Design mini-boutique at Twentieth
  • Feiz in his boutique at Twentieth
  • Wired dining table
  • Griffin and Isabella planters
  • Life After Corkage ottoman and barstool

United for the first time, Reza Feiz’s wide-ranging collections make a strong case for the enduring appeal of restrained modern design by Mayer Rus

Reza Feiz doesn’t traffic in the kind of strained arabesques and outré gestures that one associates with cutting-edge contemporary furniture. In his wide array of designs, you won’t find a reclining electric chair or a crib made out of Uzis and grenades. His materials palette includes neither experimental space-age polymers nor old telephone books, and his lamps and sofas refrain from commentary on the condition of man.

Mies van der Rohe said, “It is better to be good than original,” suggesting worthy design arises not from mannered novelty but from basic virtues of clarity, construction, scale and proportion. On those counts, Feiz’s work is very good indeed.

The designer emerged on the international scene in 2003, when his firm, Phase Design, was recognized in a competition sponsored by Surface magazine. His first offering—the quintessentially modern Pose armchair—was followed in short order by a range of complementary seating options, tables, beds, lighting and planters, all united by a sensibility that prizes economy of form; unpretentious, high-quality materials; and meticulous craftsmanship.

“I know it’s a cliché to reference the Case Study program, but it’s still a major touchstone for me,” Feiz insists. “When I first moved to Los Angeles in the early ’90s, I worked as a photo assistant for my cousin Firooz Zahedi. I remember shooting at Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House No. 22 and experiencing the architecture firsthand. It was very powerful, and it cemented the modernist tenets of my own work.”

After a decade of building his collections, Feiz arrived at a point where he wanted to see everything displayed in one integrated space that reflected his particular vision. But the prospect of becoming a shopkeeper was less than enticing.

Stefan Lawrence, owner of L.A.’s contemporary design mecca Twentieth and a longtime champion of Feiz’s work, solved the dilemma by opening a dedicated Phase Design mini-boutique within his expansive Beverly Boulevard showroom.

“People are always saying that the Americans don’t compare to European designers,” he says, “but Reza does. His work is clean, sophisticated and approachable. To say he is prolific is an understatement, and I see no sign of him slowing down.”

The Phase emporium contains a tasting of Feiz’s oeuvre, from the BBC chair series that launched his career to the Cini chandelier of steel tubing that was designed just a few months ago to crown the new space. Together, it’s a strong, coherent presentation, certain to entice design aficionados with a taste for classic modernism with a twist.