Fall Finds in Los Angeles

The Inside Scoop on All the Must-See Vendors at the 2016 Unique LA Fall Market in Downtown L.A.

By Tess Bethune

As a designer, I’m always looking for elements that make a space feel truly special and personal. I want just the right touch of color, texture, or emotion that comes with the perfect pillow, rug, vase, or print. I’m always on the hunt for those finishing details and wishing that I could gather them in one place.

Enter Unique LA, a fun and inspiring shopping event devoted to bringing locally made products and design to the masses. This made-in-America pop-up market is the largest of its kind in the United States, with nearly 20,000 visitors per showcase. Sonja Rasula, an L.A.–based design entrepreneur and creative director, started Unique LA in 2008 with the goal of encouraging a small creative-business movement and boosting the local economy. The market, held three times a year in Los Angeles, has become the hub of independently made décor, home goods, clothing, and more.

The Unique LA Fall Market is Sept. 10–11, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the California Market Center, in downtown Los Angeles. Tickets are available at the door as well as in advance here.

Unique LA is my No. 1 go-to for those special and exclusive pieces that help me finish a room’s design. I have found everything from yummy candles and hand creams to one-of-a-kind cutting boards and uncommon and surprising textile wall hangings. At one Unique market, I even found the perfect custom living-room side table. (I also usually sneak in a couple of Christmas and birthday gifts while I’m there.)

One thing that makes Unique’s markets so different is being able to see the quality and craftsmanship in the products up close. Plus, it’s nice to be able to interact with the designers and creators on the spot. Unique also offers opportunities for sourcing custom orders. If a vendor has a product you love, but you’re looking for a different pattern, color, material, or shape to complete your latest design project, many of them are happy to oblige.

This year’s fall market, running Sept. 10–11, will feature 125 independent designers and artisans. There’s something for everyone here: home décor and furniture, gourmet food, art, clothing and accessories, jewelry, and more. I’m also a big fan of Unique LA’s creative activities, plus the live music, free drinks, and snacks. These extras make the Unique LA Fall Market more of an experience than a simple stop on your sourcing trip.

Here are a few vendors you should definitely check out at this season’s market.

Mad Woodworks
Image courtesy of MADwoodWorks.

MADwoodWorks: Always warm and inviting, natural-wood slabs bring an earthy vibe to any environment. Wood looks complement just about any color scheme. The old-growth tropical hardwoods from MADwoodWorks are all rescued from the beaches of Hawaii and dried here in California to create one-of-a-kind whiskey slabs, cheese boards, and furniture items. Each piece is thoughtfully selected for its use and purpose and is crafted to last a lifetime.

Local + Lejos
Image courtesy of Local + Lejos.

Local + Lejos: With modern color palettes and a traditional technique, Local + Lejos’ gorgeous baskets, pillows, and linens bring a bohemian touch to any room in the house. And its tribal baskets—Local + Lejos works with mostly women artisans in Cambodia, Guatemala, India, and Rwanda—which have become a design staple, are special because they benefit the communities that make them. Beautiful and useful, colorful and textural, each Local + Lejos item you purchase supports local craftsmen, allowing them to care for their families with food, an animal, or water for up to a month.

Fair Seas Supply Co.
Images courtesy of Fair Seas Supply Co.

Fair Seas Supply Co.: Fair Seas Supply Co. makes the coolest round blankets! These Turkish-cotton creations are perfect for a picnic or a day at the beach, but they also make for great snuggling on the couch or watching a sunset on the front porch. Inspired by the sea, with California and New England collections, the sand-washed tones of these striped blankets add a touch of coastal tradition to any space.

Avesha Michael
Images courtesy of Avesha Michael.

Avesha Michael: Avesha Michael is premiering new products at this year’s fall market. While minimalists will appreciate her creamy ceramics and clean lines, those looking for more-organic accessories will appreciate Michael’s earth-tone wares. And if it’s subtle glam you want, check out her tableware with perfectly balanced golden accents. Noted for eco-friendly designs, Michael’s ceramic home-décor company has been featured on many artists-to-watch lists. I’m looking forward to seeing what she has been up to.

Can’t make the fall market this month? Unique is already putting together its holiday marketing program, so mark your calendar for Dec. 3 and 4.