Why not a column on museum stores? They're full of well-designed, excitingly modern, cool objects—even some d'art.
First stop: the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla (700 Prospect St.,), where the first d'art I come across are these amazing sunglass frames— Rayban-ish, but crafted with warm wood veneers. The little placard says “Local,” and I freak out, grab my camera and am shut down by the cute, arty gals behind the counter. No photos! So, I jot down the name of the local company: Tumbleweeds.
Once home, I search Tumbleweeds and up comes its very adorable Etsy store (etsy.com/ shop/tumbleweedsoddities) and then a link to a blog (curiositiesandthelike.blogspot.com). I head over to the blog and there, on the front page, is a picture of a quaint little storefront—and it looks awfully familiar. It's in my neighborhood. I freak out for the second time in one day and send them a small love letter / inquiry, and lo and behold, it's all true—on Saturday, Sept. 10, they'll open their little Tumbleweeds Odd Shop at 3215 Adams Ave. in Normal Heights. Here's how Beca Skeels, co-owner, describes it:
“It's a great blend of handmade goodness and gypsy treasure—a lot of odds and ends, wearables, our wooden veneered sunglasses and eyewear and much more.”
Plus, custom lamps and lighting by Normal Heights local Greg Brown and home décor from Chelsea Hanson. The store opens at 11 a.m., and the party starts at 6 p.m. (and—psst!—Skeels, a pastry chef by trade, will be making the snacks for the shindig, so put “tasty treats” on the list of reasons to check it out).
This is encouraging and exciting because we need more small stores. With the recent demise of Bedouin Vintage Collective and Material, I was feeling pretty down for our local shopping community. But this buoys the heart. (And for more new store openings, such as the Villainous Lair comic-book store, also on Adams Avenue, check out the Urban Scout Handbook blog at sdcitybeat.com/urbanscout.)
But back to the MCASD shop in La Jolla. It's really like several stores in one—there's the book section, full of Phaidons and other oversize, impeccably designed, glorious art books. There's the art section, filled with unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of pottery and posters from shows gone by. There's kitsch section, filled with bear-rug coasters and graffiti-spray-can cocktail shakers and flavor-saver mustache chip clips. There's the jewelry section with my most-coveted Yellow Owl Workshop gold cloisonné pendants. There's the alcohol-themed section with babushka carafes and a sake-bomb set by Alexander Purcell and Imm Living wine stoppers with weird plastic animal heads. Plus, there's kid's section (Friends With You toys!) and a foodie section (the El Bulli book!). And don't forget the DVD section featuring Michel Gondry's work, plus art docs like Beautiful Losers and The Cool School.
Closer to (my) home is the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Similar in concept to the store at MCASD, SDMA's store has a crazy-huge selection of art books, from the classics to the more modern pop-surrealism of Banksy, Mark Ryden and Elizabeth McGrath. It also carries the book from the Museum of modern Art's Tim Burton exhibit, plus loads of other weird stuff like a paper watch, David Weeks Studio wooden animals and Piperoid paper pipe robots. The kids section is even better than MCASD's, thanks to the odd Dutch-designed Kidsonroof Totem projects, the U.S.-made Topozoo custom creature playsets, the charming Petite Collage wall decals and the bounty of awesome kids books, mostly art themed but some just plain rad.
And before I sign off, I would remiss if I didn't mention the other Balboa Park Museum's stores: The Museum of Man with it's Day of the Dead and Eqyptian themed doo-dads; the Historical Society's very San Diego-themed store; the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center's amazing selection of curiosity kits; and the Museum of Photographic Arts' collection of Holga cameras and accessories.