20/20 Vision: A Conversation with Thomas Lavin and Gary Hutton


Tune in, to celebrate one of the longest running relationships in design between—author and designer Gary Hutton and showroom pioneer Thomas Lavin—for a discussion about their work together and more. The conversation will be live on Thomas Lavin Showroom’s Instagram tomorrow at 11am PT. Here, they share a preview of what’s to come!

THOMAS: I remember when we first met at Therien & Co in probably 1998 – I was leaning against a wall drinking gin and acting the wallflower – we started chatting.  You were kind and engaged.  What are your recollections of our first chat?

GARY: Oh dear, my recollection of that chat is quite vague.  I can’t remember if it was that time or another shortly after that you told me you were going to open a showroom, and would I be interested in having representation in Los Angeles.  I do remember purchasing a Christian Liaigre chair from you in your former place of employment and now you represent them!  Well done my Dear!

You first opened on Beverly Blvd. and later moved into the PDC.  What are your thoughts regarding “Street” v. Design Center, and how has that changed over the years?  Your Laguna showroom is more “street like” than the PDC, so you have experience with both simultaneously.

THOMAS: Since we were just starting, we were too green for the PDC and found a small space with a parking lot, which really became the party lot.  As we grew, it made sense to be in the center in order to grow and capitalize on strength in numbers.  Laguna is a beautiful center with gardens, skylights and our own patio.  It is a beautiful and calming space to visit. We have been together for over 20 years – what remembrances to you have of our early days? What do you look forward to in our future?

GARY: One of my favorite memories of Beverly Blvd. was the day before the opening party.  We were all madly rushing around to get everything set up when you received a phone call from the notoriously difficult owner of a fabric line, pulling the line from you and demanding the return of all the samples immediately!  Of course my upholstery was covered in those fabrics!  That evening might have been our first Martini together.  We have had many since and I look forward to many more!

You have fostered so many of us that started out with you, did you set out to be a mentor to “creatives” or did your stewardship of us newbies or just evolve into that?  Kevin of Fuse Lighting and Jiun Ho are two that come to mind for their explosion of creative energy since you first opened.

THOMAS: When I started – it was out of passion:the friends and creatives that inhabit our realm; all things design and being of service.  I have worked towards supporting our brands and team members to their highest potential and have grown with them.

GARY: When someone comes to you seeking representation, what is the criteria you use to make the decision to take the line on or not?

THOMAS: After 20 years, we look for either something new and exciting that inspires us so that we can share the good news with our friends and customers. All of your furniture is exquisite – and the bronze is eternal.  When you introduced the Pool and the Puddle, I was blown away by the juxtaposition and union of the two.  Your work had heretofore been angular in the vein of Donald Judd – until these pieces – what inspired the evolution?

GARY: My first college degree was in sculpture and the exploration of materials that I experienced was life changing.  Fast forward many years and I bought a five pound block of clay one day and just started playing around with it.  A friend had just loaned me a book on the great American couturier Charles James.  I was captivated by the shapes of his magnificent ball gowns and that was the inspiration for these tables.  One never knows where inspiration comes from.  Never stop looking! OK, this is a very provocative question:  Dover Street, New York or LA?  

THOMAS: Dover Street New York – they have Armando 🙂

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