Our #ShowOnTheRoadMG series took us to sunny L.A. to visit Joe Lucas at Harbinger in the La Cienega Design District. Joe Lucas is the founder of Lucas Studio, a high-end residential design firm and owner of the multiline showroom, Harbinger.
Known for a classic east coast traditional style meets West Coast cool, Traditional Home magazine named Lucas Studio, Inc. one of the “Top 20 Young Design Firms to Watch” in 2009. House Beautiful magazine recognized the firm as one of their American Design Trailblazers in 2011. The firm has completed residential projects in Los Angeles, Montana, Florida, Chicago, Memphis, Philadelphia and several houses in Rumson, Little Silver and Bay Head, NJ. Current work includes ground-up construction projects located in New Jersey, Seattle and throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Moore & Giles has been a part of the Harbinger family since 2015 and we couldn’t feel more at home.
We caught up with Joe during Legends, a 3-day celebration of design that brings together thousands of tastemakers from the worlds of interiors, decor, art, fashion, and architecture, to discuss: design, Los Angeles and all things leather.
What got you started in the design industry?
I started in design as a side job years ago when I was still pursuing my acting career. Soon it took over and I eventually landed a coveted spot working for Michael Smith. In 2005 a colleague and I broke off and started Lucas Studio Inc together. After 10 years I became sole owner of the design firm.
Harbinger is a very special showroom – unique and expertly curated – tell us more about it.
Harbinger is my showroom to the design trade. I opened it in 2008 almost on a dare from my friend and fellow designer Peter Dunham. He had just opened a small shop called Hollywood at Home above our small office and said something to the effect of “if I’ve got a shop then you need a shop.” And as I was always a sucker for peer pressure the rest is history. The first iteration of the shop was only about 400sf in size and was a collection of vintage finds. About a year later I added another 300sf and started representing a few small collections of fabric and wallpaper. In 2011, we moved from our charming little courtyard garden setting to our current space in the heart of the La Cienega Design Quarter in a 6000sf space. I added about 40 more lines of wallpaper and fabric as well as lighting, furniture, custom rugs, accessories and of course, Moore & Giles Leather.
Can you describe the design culture in LA – what are people looking for, how does it differ from other parts of the country – is there a distinct LA style?
We are blessed in California with great weather and more space than other design hubs like New York. So clients tend to look for items that can adapt to a more indoor/outdoor style of living. We also have a more eclectic design sense I think. We can mix styles together and utilize anything from 18th-century antiques to midcentury pieces.
How did you first learn about M&G?
I had met Brooks Morrison at the West Edge design show when the company’s #MGAirstream and a pair of cool leather armchairs caught my eye. Then it was apparent that I had to be a part of the world of Brooks and Moore & Giles. So we planned to have M&G host a party to end all parties using the air stream during our big LCDQ Legends event in May at Harbinger. Well, it was such a success we are looking at our fifth annual party next year and Harbinger started representing the M&G collection a few years ago.
What is it about leather that you love – where do you like to use it in projects?
Leather adds something to a room that is so important. Whether it’s that perfect color or the texture that you can’t get from a traditional textile. The durability is always important too. It can immediately add age and a key layer to a room. I love having at least one leather chair in each space. We use it a lot on bar stools and kitchen banquettes. Or finding a really unique hide and color for dining chairs. I’ve done leather paneled doors and even worked to design leather-covered furniture.
Do you have a favorite M&G leather?
I am a sucker for Mont Blanc for sure. There is something about the hand of it and, of course, the colors. I covered a reproduction Danish sofa that is part of my line in Mont Blanc for my house and it’s my favorite piece. I also am obsessed with the new Whistler collection of antiqued suede. And I loved putting one of my other fabric vendors Rule of Three who marbleizes fabrics together with M&G and now she is using your leathers to marbleize hides for a bespoke collection. They are spectacular.
The new collections are fantastic. The colors are killer and have a great range and the hand is really beautiful. And the fact that they are sustainable is just an added benefit for so many clients. Especially in California where a lot of the clientele really cares about sustainability. Plus they work rest for commercial applications where the architect might be going for LEED certification.
The hottest spot in town for the best margaritas, tacos and street corn is one of Joe Lucas’ favorites, Salazar. LA Weekly states, “Every now and then, a restaurant can rise above the sum of its parts and be perfectly suited for its exact moment in time. Right now, in Los Angeles, Salazar is that restaurant.”
Paramount Coffee Project
Located just a stone’s throw from Harbinger, this Sydney-based coffee shop serves up some of the best coffee in the city and arguably the best breakfast. The shop says, “On a day-to-day basis PCP is a cafe which focuses on unique, delicious food and exceptional customer service. As a result, there is a real emphasis on the quality of the coffee and paying tribute to all the hard work it takes to get the coffee in the cup.”
Cafe. Bakery. Bistro. Bar. All of these words perfectly describe everything that is Republique. Opening its doors in 2013, this restaurant by Walter and Margarita Manzke has become one of the most celebrated dining establishments in all of Los Angeles.