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In San Diego, a Little Italy Gets Bigger
By JEFF SCHLEGEL
June 10, 2010
LITTLE ITALY NORTH in San Diego has long been the unsung, gritty industrial cousin to the main part of Little Italy’s restaurant row, essentially cut off from its southern half by two busy streets and a decidedly different mindset. But as many of the area’s machine shops and warehouses have closed, a nascent design district, featuring art galleries and home décor stores, has taken root in their former digs.
Evidently, though, the word still needs to get out. “There are people in Little Italy who don’t know this section is even part of Little Italy,” said Perry Meyer, owner of Perry L. Meyer Fine Art gallery (2400 Kettner Boulevard, Suite 104; 619-358-9512; plmeyerfineart.com), which specializes in limited-edition prints and works on paper, ranging from pieces by Miró and Chagall to vintage Italian posters.
One of the scene’s early arrivals was Mixture (2210 Kettner Boulevard; 619-239-4788; mixturehome.com), which opened in 2003. Its eclectic array of high-end modern European furniture, home accessories and local artwork include a red gloss, lacquered aluminum Colors table from Italy ($4,300). Couch potatoes with dollars to spend could go for the ultramodern, flowing curves of a German lava sofa for $11,000.
Retro Boomerang for Modern (2475 Kettner Boulevard; 619-239-2040; boomerangformodern.com) offers midcentury modern. Early 1960s items recently included a pair of black leather and stainless steel Barcelona chairs ($3,900).
Anything that can be recovered from old houses is jammed into Architectural Salvage (2401 Kettner Boulevard; 619-696-1313; architecturalsalvagesd.com). Take, for example, the glass door knobs in a variety of styles ($15 to $22.50). And there are tough-to-classify items, like wooden doors from a Hungarian wine cave ($1,250).
Then there are the owners of On Kettner (2400 Kettner Boulevard, Suite 110; 619-236-1601; onkettner.com), a home furnishings store that opened last summer, who pride themselves on not specializing in any particular style. It’s a place where 1930s-era hand-painted Asian coffee tables ($58 for the small; $125 for the large) share space with a wrought-iron French candelabra ($140).
The focus at Casa Artelexia (2419 Kettner Boulevard; 619-544-1011; artelexia.com), which opened in February, is on handmade items from Mexican artisans. Featured works include wooden milagro crosses adorned with charms ($20), hand-painted glass dishes ($18 to $21) and large Oaxacan wood carvings in animal shapes ($3,000).
Over at 4 Coalesce Gallery (2360 India Street; 619-564-2671; bedfordbuilt.com), handcrafted wood furniture, made by the owner Joe Bedford in his adjacent workshop, takes the spotlight. His handiwork includes an arty, rough-hewn three-layer buckeye slab table and a polished cocobolo slab table with dark wood and blond highlights (each for $850). Out in front is a row of four first-class airline seats. Take a seat and watch the planes fly overhead — maybe a couple of hundred feet above, at most — on their approach to nearby San Diego International Airport. The noise may be a bit much, but after all that shopping, you’ll welcome the respite.[/quote]