Now that downtown L.A. has arrived, where to next? A pair of cult brands are making a case for Chinatown as the city’s new style frontier. After a recent joint pop-up downtown proved successful, Iko Iko—the concept store run by Kristin Dickson and Shin Okuda— and Building Block—Kimberly and Nancy Wu’s buzzy line of minimalist bags— are together establishing a permanent retail space along the neighborhood’s industrial northern edge. (The location, about halfway between downtown and the leafy creative-class enclave of Mount Washington, isn t quite the cultural desert it may seem: the vast Shareen vintage warehouse, a stylists haunt, is downstairs, and the annual FYFmusic festival has traditionally taken place at Los Angeles State Historic Park just down the road.)
The expansive third-floor loft, which opens tomorrow, will carry art and design objects, jewelry, printed matter and the Building Block collection as well as Dickson’s clothing line, Rowena Sartin, and Okuda’s handmade furniture project, Waka Waka. It will also host Building Block and Rowena Sartin’s design operations, in addition to rotating art shows, lectures and readings. The space has, as Dickson puts it, “nice energy” From 1973 to 1991, it was run as the Woman’s Building, a feminist art space and community center founded by the artist Judy Chicago, the art historian Arlene Raven and the graphic designer Sheila Levrant de Bretteville. Now, it offers an ideal showcase for the sort of anything-goes collaborative spirit that characterizes the East Sides emerging art and design scene. Our goal centers around experience,” says Dickson. “The hope is that a visitor can engage with the space and the ideas that excite us.” Iko Iko and Building Block opening Saturday, April 26, 5-8 pm at 1727 N. Spring St., Los Angeles.