Design Destination: What’s Old Is New At Placewares


Where: Placewares, 39114 Ocean Drive, Gualala, CA
Placewares, the home store, market and gallery in Gualala– on the northen edge of The Sea Ranch– has new owners and plans for expansion (both online and bricks-and-mortar) and a subtle re-tooling their offerings. A direct descendant of the Mid-Century retail legend Design Research, Placewares brings much the same vibrant color and exuberant simplicity to home goods. Above, coming soon, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec’s Ruutu vase for famed glass maker Iittala, and a felt carryall that will go anywhere (photo by Nina S).

Long a source for Modernist cookware, linens and tabletop, Placewares also carries a selection of well-curated cookbooks and local edibles.

A Little Backstory: Ben Thompson’s Design Research was, throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, a beacon of contemporary design. Founded in Cambridge, MA in 1953, D/R capitalized on a burgeoning interest in well-made, modern domestic goods and a thriving post war economy, eventually expanding across the country. Early on, D/R had introduced Marimekko textiles to the US market, along other high design Scandinavian companies like Ittala and Artek, but became a victim of over-expansion and a shifting vision, and the compnay went out of business in the late ‘70s. In 1977 two of the company’s managers, Lu and Maynard Lyndon, struck out on the their own with Placewares, eventually expanding it to 11 stores, mostly in New England.

Twenty-five years later, the Lyndons closed their stores and retired to The Sea Ranch– and like so many retirees, quickly got bored. With a deeply design–conscious community in situ at The Sea Ranch, the Lyndons opened a new Placewares in 2005, and it would quickly became a kind of country store and gathering place for both design-minded residents and tourists.

This past January, two longtime Sea Ranch residents (and longtime Placewares customers) Shev Rush and Kevin Lane purchased the company. Currently re-tooling Placewares online sales and taking the first steps towards opening new retail locations, Rush and Lane are no strangers to big projects, having meticulously restored several MCM homes in Palm Springs and Los Angeles; their current project is an historic Ladd + Kelsey house in Pasadena.

Highly Recommended: The Placewares Instagram account. Below, a classic Placewares table with Marimekko fabrics.