Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Retail Therapy: FiveTen Studio

Situated amidst Old Oakland’s stately but often vacant Victorian brick buildings -- and on the edge of the city’s bustling Chinatown district -- is a welcome surprise: A cutting-edge new retail showroom, exhibition space, and design think-tank of sorts called FiveTen Studio.

FiveTen is just the latest in a series of hip new businesses hanging out their shingles in Old Oakland. Within a few blocks, there’s Mignonne (a boutique specializing in both vintage French and modern decor), Entrez! Open House (modern furnishings and accessories), and Drift Denim (premium-label jeans) -- as well as buzzworthy new dining spots B, Tamarindo, and Levende East.

Turns out, FiveTen cofounder Alfonso Dominguez is behind several of these stylish new establishments – he started Tamarindo with his mother, Gloria, and Drift with his fiancée, Johnelle Mancha, who in turn co-owns Mignonne with her own mother, Kim.

Dominguez, it seems, is high on his hometown. “Oakland is like the unappreciated middle child" of the Bay Area, he says. “But there’s such potential and opportunity here -- it has the best weather, a great central location, and so many creative people.”

Highlighting the work of Oakland’s creative community is one of the reasons the young architect and designer, along with business partner and fellow architect Sean Matthews, founded this newest venture. “We wanted to showcase functional, limited-edition objects and furniture – much of it created by local designers, artists, and craftspeople,” Dominguez says. In addition, “FiveTen is exploring the concept of art gallery as retail store, and store as gallery” – not to mention housing Dominguez and Matthews’ design and architectural practice.

During a recent visit, the light-filled space featured a spare arrangement of innovative furnishings and art pieces from a broad array of local and national design talent. Among the offerings:

Lacquered turned wood and glass tables, $10,500 and $7,300, and oak stool, $2,300 from Robert Austin Gonzalez

Origami-esque flat-pack polycarbonate room divider, $4,000, from Oakland’s Studio Under Manufacture

Nolan Nui white leather chaise, $4,300

Molo Design Softseating, $1,900 and $540 (made from honeycombed kraft paper, these ingenious, accordion-like pieces can be configured any number of ways and are surprisingly sturdy and versatile)

Alfonso Dominguez redwood and steel coffee table, $2,000

MkS Design leather and steel lounge chair, $2,300

Walnut and resin light fixture, $2,500, from San Francisco's Linden Design, and Harry Allen gold piggy bank, $220

Balsa wood whale wall hanging, $400, by Salvor Fauna

Hand-blown glass lamp, $4,200 by Oakland's Daniel Reilly (similar Reilly fixtures hang in the cafe at San Francisco's new de Young Museum)

David Weeks' metallic glazed teacups, $95 each.

Prices, clearly, are not for the faint of heart, and FiveTen isn’t the sort of store you can pop in to on your lunch hour to grab a quick gift. Dominguez, in fact, has no great love for “tchotchkes” and they’re notably absent from the showroom.

But it is the place to see high-end, envelope-pushing design and perhaps find something truly unique and thought provoking for your home. (The owners plan to treat the space as a sort of “revolving showcase” for homegrown furniture and art, so future collections should have items available at a wider range of price points.)

FiveTen Studio is located at 831 Broadway (at the corner of Ninth Street) in downtown Oakland, and is open from 12 to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and by appointment Sundays through Wednesdays; the phone number is 510-451-9900.

1 comment:

katiedid said...

Loving the glass table with the turned legs! What a great shop.:)


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