The Pacific Design Center: Demystifying the Big Blue Building

I've always been really curious about that big old blue building right on Melrose called the Pacific Design Center. It's enormous and a little intimidating - I've never been sure if I could even step in.

In order to debunk some myths, I found the Director of Pacific Design Services, Lynda Brenner, who was kind enough to set aside an hour with me and Sam to give us a grand tour of the place and tell us more about the PDC.

Here's a quick peak inside:

We were not allowed to take pictures inside of the showrooms so, sorry, this will mostly be in text!

A little about the PDC:
1. They have 135 showrooms that represent thousands of manufacturers on 6 floors, you can easily get lost
2. Everything is custom made, by hand
3. Lead time is typically 12-14 weeks

Lynda's observations:
1. In the last 8-10 yrs she's seen a shift from people buying traditional to contemporary furniture
2. She has 16 professional designers in her referral program. There are 25 designers on a waiting list.

1. Walk around yourself - anyone can come in and tour the showrooms. If you are not accompanied by a designer or Lynda, you won't be quoted prices however. Doesn't mean you can't take a nice afternoon getting some design ideas. This is a nice easy way to see what the top furniture designers are doing and find out what your taste it like.

2. Work with Lynda Brenner - this option is good for those that are interested in buying a few pieces and don't need the help of a designer. You schedule an appt with her so she can assess your needs. Lynda makes arrangements with certain PDC showrooms to view a number of items and you purchase through her.
*Pricing: There is a 25% admin fee they tack on above the to-the-trade prices.

3. Work with a designer - Meet with Lynda, she assesses your needs and then hooks you up with a 1 of 16 designers she thinks would be best suited for you. She determines this by your taste, project scope and budget. This option is best for people who don't know a designer, who are building a new home, planning a renovation or want to redecorate a room. Basically, you need a trained person with you bc you have a lot of work to do.
*Designers usually charge an hourly rate plus tack on 25-35% above to-the-trade prices.

As Lynda was taking us around we quickly learned a few key things:
1. What the difference bw modern, contemporary, and transitional is. Modern has very clean almost hard lines, contemporary is a little more polished, refined, even pretty. Here's what I found on one website: "One major difference between modern and contemporary is the hard lined usage as opposed to the soft and rounded lines used in contemporary design so there is no need for adorning curves. With the dominant white wall theme, neutrally toned fabrics, accessories and furnishings and emphasis on angular and definitive geometric shapes, modern style is a timeless home style that is easy to maintain."

Here's my take on modern:

and on contemporary:

Transitional is a blend of several types - usually traditional mixed with modern or contemporary. Something very traditional looking can be updated in a modern or contemporary way by the fabric or the detail (ex.
Kelly Wearstler can be considered transitional bc she definitely blends contemporary with traditional.)

2. What the difference bw damask and fleur-de-lis is:
Damask has more of a pattern on fabric:

Fleur-de-leis is more of a symbol:

Now a few modern/contemporary places to hit up: note - these websites do not accurately portray the beauty of the furniture in these stores (someone get these people web designers!)
1. David Sutherland (1st floor) - transitional, they take a lot of traditional pieces and mix them up with a different fabric to create a more contemporary look. I did get to sneak this picture in before I got completely busted by security. What I do for MMM!

2. Holly Hunt - this is a premiere showroom on the 3rd floor. They had some great furniture and lighting. Particularly loved Christian Liaigre furniture in there.
3. Thomas Lavin - on the 3rd floor, contemporary look
4. Lucien Rollin on the 5th floor, traditional in back and modern on the sides of the showroom
5. Kneedler-Fauchere on the 6th floor is the oldest showroom in the building. They showcase Michael Berman, who is all about Hollywood 40s-50s glam.
6. Donghia back on the 1st floor - great light fixtures/chandeliers, completely unique.

We finished off our tour with a nice lunch at Red Seven, a very modern looking Wolfgang Puck restaurant (which will be coming in another post).

Overall? We had a great time just exploring all of the different design styles out there. Some of the stores almost felt like you were walking through Palazzo in Vegas or a room at the W hotel.

Tips: Lynda totally gets that it can be a little weird walking around by yourself - she acknowledges that. She even said that the place can be a little cold. She encourages everyone to come on in, though, and really check things out. Third floor has the best showrooms for contemporary furnishings. You can park 90 minutes free if you get validated from the restaurant. We found metered parking on the street.

Who should go? People who want to see what the very best designers are making in furniture and lighting. We were pretty blown away by all of the beautiful pieces - couches, chandeliers, tables...there is really something for everyone here. People who want to refine their tastes. Bc you get to see so many styles it'll help you figure out what you like or don't like.

If you are interested in really buying something, give Lynda a holler! She's a very sweet, kind woman who'll help you out! Here we are together. (Again, why my right arm does this funky pose is beyond me.)

Lynda Brenner
Director of Design Services PDC
Pacific Design Center
8687 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90069
P. 310.360.6418 or 310.657.0800

Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Hope this was informative!

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Tags: center, design, pacific

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