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Chic in LA: JF Chen

by habituallychic

04 . 08 . 10

I remember seeing some vintage tortoise shells in House & Garden magazine many years ago that were credited to a place called JF Chen. It always stayed with me and I thought that I must visit this place someday. On my recent trip to LA, I finally got the chance. I’m not even sure how to describe JF Chen. I don’t think warehouse or even store do it justice. It’s really a giant jewel box. It’s so expansive that I joked that I thought I should leave a trail of breadcrumbs so I could find my way out again. I read that it’s treasures go all the way back to the 12th-century and up to the 1970’s. The best part is that they are all displayed together in various vignettes. Since I love mixing periods and styles, I was in heaven! Christian of Maison21 and I introduced ourselves to the proprietor, Joel Chen, below, and he took time to walk through the vast space with us and to the gallery space he has opened on the lower level. More on that later. Joel has been collecting for more than thirty years and instead of traveling the world in search of the best furniture and accessories, they now come to him in the form of emails from people looking to sell. I asked him if he knew every designer and style now and he actually replied that he does not. For such a small country, Denmark had a surprising number of furniture designers and he still finds pieces who provenance is unknown. I think it is this curiosity to learn something new that keeps many of us going in the design world.

He also likes to point out the different designers who buy from him. Where else could Kelly Wearstler and Michael Smith both find furniture for their clients? Ralph Lauren also buys many of their props for photo shoots from JF Chen and I bet Mr. Lauren himself does too. Christian thought it would be fun if we both posted our favorite finds from JF Chen to see what different items we were drawn to in the showroom. It was a bit overwhelming and also hard to take photos since you didn’t have much room to back up but I managed to shoot quite a lot that caught my eye. My favorites were anything Asian, especially the screens, and of course the artwork. At the end, you’ll see that even the entry staircase isn’t immune from decoration. After remembering the name JF Chen for years, I’m so glad that my visit was definitely worth the wait!

Photos by Heather Clawson for Habitually Chic

Comments Closed

  1. Nancy Marcus Gueret April 8, 2010 | 1:24 am

    Gorgeous photos! So much to take in in every single picture. Wow, such an amazing place. Thank you for sharing this info, I will try to remember this just as you remembered the name for so long until you finally got there!

  2. Amanda April 8, 2010 | 2:04 am

    dang it. I’m crazy jealous!

  3. Ms Smart April 8, 2010 | 2:39 am

    OMG. bing bing bing bing bing bing. dang, what a find. they could shoot a movie in there, like the item with a spell on it type of thing. excellent images. great call hc. thank you!

  4. Simple Good Beautiful April 8, 2010 | 3:17 am

    Wow! I checked their address and this amazing place has been almost literally under my nose for all these years! Does he sell only to designers?

  5. the NEO-traditionalist April 8, 2010 | 3:53 am

    Holy smokes, look at the size of their inventory! Often drool over their items on 1stDibs, so fun to see it all come together! xo katie

  6. maison21 April 8, 2010 | 4:05 am

    hey, not so bad- i only count three pictures in common!



  7. stylecurator April 8, 2010 | 4:18 am

    JF Chen never disappoints-they are an institution!

  8. Karena April 8, 2010 | 4:41 am

    Heather, wow! I am amazed by all of the beautigul images at Joel Chens. Love the abstract art over the bench!!

  9. Sally J April 8, 2010 | 12:28 pm

    That’s upscale “Junkin'” on steroids! What an amazing place! If you can’t find something there that you love, you’re not looking! Thanks for sharing. I want to go to LA now!

  10. styleodyssey April 8, 2010 | 1:14 pm

    What an incredible array of wonderfulness!

  11. Belle on Heels April 8, 2010 | 1:17 pm

    the red wall with the white sunburst mirrors is gorgeous!!

  12. lissadzn April 8, 2010 | 1:42 pm

    I would never ever leave that store! I could die there. How cute is he in his Chucks!

  13. La Feem April 8, 2010 | 2:16 pm

    So much amazing stuff! Love the neon photos and the circle mirrors….really I love it all.

  14. jones April 8, 2010 | 3:32 pm

    Joel Chen has the “best” eye, taste, breadth of knowledge in the business. Plus, he is generally well-liked. Thanks for the great photos. Mary

  15. kimberj April 8, 2010 | 4:30 pm

    Next time we’re in LA, we’re there! Thanks for the heads up. I could lose myself in a place like that for days.

  16. Iva April 8, 2010 | 5:48 pm

    gorgeous!! love the red! 😉

  17. Style Maniac April 9, 2010 | 1:56 am

    yes yes yes yes … worth the cost of a plane ticket to LA just to explore this place! fabulous picks.

  18. pve design April 9, 2010 | 11:21 am

    That red door is positively amazing. I could see HC looking swell on that door.