With its charming courtyards, shaded alleyways, and windowed views into beautifully decorated spaces, the La Cienega Design Quarter of Los Angeles looks more like an elegant residential neighborhood than a commercial mecca. But, despite its cozy curb appeal, the area is home to more than fifty retail and trade-only decor showrooms, including Una Malan's, one of the largest, yet most intimate.
Born and raised in England, Malan decided as a child—before ever visiting California— that she wanted to live in Los Angeles as an adult. Something about the sunlight and the glamour of the city always beckoned. After working as a talent agent and, then, as an interior designer in London, Malan finally moved to Los Angeles in 2007 and worked for The Rug Company, eventually becoming their West Coast manager. She loved everything about that job, she says, "but I wanted to do something that would incorporate not just rugs but all sorts of products and home accessories, and give me the opportunity to work with interior designers on a full range of projects."
In 2016, she opened a small, by-appointment-only showroom on Melrose Avenue that quickly became a go-to for L.A.'s most creative designers. She quickly outgrew that space, and the next year she started looking for a larger location. "My realtor showed me a few private homes that I considered turning into my showroom," Malan says, "but then we saw this space in the Design District, and I knew it would be perfect." It was certainly as close to looking like a real house as any commercial space could be.
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WRITTEN BY SUSAN KLEINMAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ACE MISIUNAS
This story appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of MILIEU.