For most of the art and design operatives making today’s JFK-to-LAX exodus, the basic questions of where to set up shop in Los Angeles are primarily practical ones. What can I afford? Where are my friends? But anyone familiar with David Alhadeff, the aesthetically fixated brain behind the visionary design and art gallery The Future Perfect, could have predicted this would not be his approach. Two years ago, after 22 years in New York, Alhadeff decided to open an LA branch of The Future Perfect and move himself there in the bargain. However, inspired by a couple of glaring differences between the two cities, he decided to take a different tack than most people.
The first contrast was about commerce. LA doesn’t lend itself to getting a lot done in a day. It’s too spread out and car culture doesn’t enable popping in anywhere. “This is a city where getting toothpaste is a destination,” he says dryly. “To be part of the destination shopping experience of LA I wanted to create an impactful beautiful experience, so I decided to focus less on making it easily accessible and more on making it incredible.”
So he thought: Why open another boutique or showroom? Why not just create a fantasy in a house? And call it Casa Perfect? That’s where the second difference came in. Home-design-wise, LA is all over the map. There’s Art Deco, Midcentury Modern, Hollywood Regency, Spanish Revival, Arts and Crafts, Postmodern, Tudor, Chateauesque (and novel hybrids of the above). When it came time for him to decide, he couldn’t. So he didn’t.
For the inaugural Casa Perfect (and his first home), Alhadeff set up shop in a pristine 1957 house by architect David Hyun in the West Hollywood Hills, a low-key spot that took a little effort to find. But once Casa Perfect opened its doors in the winter of 2017, the payoff was fantastic. The most complete and seductive embodiment of The Future Perfect vision, the new space integrated all its greatest hits in furniture, all its eclectic and unexpected inventory of art and design, into a single striking domestic interior. For the first time, it truly all came together. Casa Perfect wasn’t The Future Perfect’s newest gallery, it was its home.
The venture was such a success that within a year Alhadeff moved to another house—a bigger, 1960s Hollywood Regency spread in Beverly Hills that once belonged to Elvis Presley, complete with a pool, views out to the Pacific and a 16-foot-tall front door. And, of course, an even better manifestation of Casa Perfect.
But even with the bigger space, it doesn’t feel like a showroom. The domestic setting makes all the furniture, design and art from The Future Perfect’s roster of designers and artists feel less like looking at art than living with it. “People already know the experience of being in a big store. They have certain expectations—the architecture, the materials, how you’ll be greeted, how all the other social customs are observed,” says Kristin Victoria Barron, an LA-based artist whose turned burl and bronze vessels look entirely different in the deluxe domesticity of Casa Perfect than in pristine The Future Perfect galleries in New York or San Francisco. “Changing the setting like this allows you to have a more authentic creative encounter. It really tees up the experience to allow you to look at things with new eyes.”
Originally commissioned for LALA’s 2018 Summer issue.