The area surrounding Hollywood & Highland is a bit of a cultural void. Yes, there is a Hooters and a Forever 21 and a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, cultural landmarks that are as relevant here as they are in Orlando, Florida. The most edgy the area gets is by way of an American Apparel next door to the aforementioned Hooters or, if you’re lucky, by some drunken character stumbling around from Power House. As of late June, a cultural institution dedicated to and made by the next, newest, coolest makers set up shop a block and a half East of this Hollywood void within Artisan’s Patio, a Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument. It is a secret retail boutique you need to bookmark.
The store is Otherwild, a hybrid design studio and retail space by Marisa Suarez-Orozco and Rachel Berks. The two are graphic designers/art directors who are recent transplants from New York City. Their store is a small studio full of whimsical products from YACHT’s Shangri-LA neon sign to Roots Rose Radish’s shell encased solid perfumes. The space is woody and nothing is familiar as all of the products are made from Suarez-Orozco and Berks’ friends who live locally and as far as Brooklyn and Portland: Otherwild is a celebration of their creative social group.
More than creative, their products and makers-of-products are very diverse. There are high fashion looks that are also sold at Opening Ceremony, there are candles that look like bones, high end iPad cases that are hand dyed, tons of sharp gold jewelry, and a surprisingly extensive collection of zines, magazines, and media. If you have been paying attention to Los Angeles art, you will see a few familiar faces from the feminist and queer art communities in our city and beyond. Most notably, you’ll find A.L. Steiner and Zackary Drucker’s Before After, which was designed by Berks. (Similarly, Suarez-Orozco did the design for Rhys Ernst’s The Thing.) There are also a collection of tanks by Lez We Can, the latest issue of Girls Like Us and Community Action Center: Before And Beyond, and Justin Vivian Bond’s Dendrophile.
The store has a bit of magic to it which is from the fusion of the merchandise and what they have done with the space. Yes, it is a tiny but there is no shortage of whimsy. Artisan’s Patio’s history bubbles through the walls and floor, which may or may not be the spirits of former creatives and retailers who have passed through the compound. There is a sense of tranquility in the compound that they carry into their shop, as it is removed from the bustling boulevard and is reminiscent of an open air Moroccan or Spanish market (which is very loosely suggested through light paints and semi-cheesy tiles around the courtyard fountain).
Aside from Otherwild, the neighboring stores carry this otherworldliness to them, too. There’s a hidden specialty record store, a hat store, a “Parlor Of Masks,” a movie poster store, a dance apparel and merchandise store, and a few other equally as intriguing small shops. What Otherwild does through their positioning themselves in Hollywood is bring an outsider magic to retail in Los Angeles, directly confronting the culture surrounding them. A few weeks ago (quite literally on the day the store opened), we posted an editorial on what is wrong with Los Angeles art and design stores. Otherwild not only punches a hole through that article but repurposes the idea of art and design store, making it more of an enclave for creativity and wonder, which is unlike any of the places mentioned in that article. Because they are outsiders, because they are recent transplants, because of their location, because they have such diverse friends and–therefore–diverse merchandise, Otherwild is quite different and refreshing: it is something so new and so current that you would be extremely hard pressed to find a rival. No one else in Los Angeles is doing what Suarez-Orozco and Berks are doing in the retail/design studio hybrid. Their inventory is absolutely unrivaled.
The two are hoping to expand their reach beyond the store and engage the community through events and collaborations. They–like many retailers and creatives in Los Angeles–are searching to fill and connect a gap in our population of the art hungry and art making. Speaking with them and being in their space, you could see how they are involved in several circles of art and design persons in Los Angeles and–through their store–they are connecting them all. It’s absolutely wonderful and very, very extremely unexpected: it was a delightful surprise to have come across the store.
Otherwild is located within Artisan’s Patio at 6727 7/8 Hollywood Blvd and is open Wednesday through Sundays from 11AM to 7PM. You can also follow them on Twitter, follow them on Pinterest, and Like them on Facebook, where they do a lot of updating. We hope you stop into this retail oasis very soon as it is quite the Hollywood secret.