Out of all the shops in Solana Beach’s Cedros Design District, my favorite one of all is SoLo. Approach the open industrial door of the 4,000 square-foot warehouse-like space it occupies, and you know you’re in for an eclectic trip to design paradise. Check the scene in the doorway, above. It includes an optician’s chart, an enameled metal street sign, a transit stop sign, an old schoolroom clock, hand-forged candlesticks, a loopy wire bowl, and an eye-catching German biergarten table and bench in luscious orange. And, I covet it all! I know I have no room for it all, and can’t afford it all, but just seeing it stirs that sense of retail desire that feels so good it’s got to be therapeutic. The design trip doesn’t stop with home furnishings, though, SoLo also carries an extensive array of artful cards and stationery, tons of stylish design and coffee table books, groovy CDs, and many other accoutrements of stylish living. Here you’ll find what you need to create an elegant tabletop, make a soothing bed or bath, or that perfect accessory for a special night out. Equally stylish, owner Carole Carden describes SoLo as a design collective. And, it’s a collective she carefully chose the dealers for. Carden’s obviously a master curator because the mix of shops inside SoLo feels well-thought out and perfectly complementary. There’s a sophisticated sensibility at play here, but it’s not stuffy. In business for 9 years, I’ve never been to SoLo without finding that mix visually satisfying and shopping fun. Care to see more? I thought so, let’s check out the mix …
Pastel whimsy, storybook fancy, colorful multi-culti quirkiness — it’s all here in abundance. There’s a sense of graphic crispness here that elevates what could seem like kids stuff. I love the lanterns and delicate drinking glasses in candy colors atop the display case.
Cross the aisle and you cross over to another look completely, as this dealer’s wares exemplify spareness and tranquility. All about rustic surface textures, natural materials and quiet Asian-look pottery, I suddenly feel like I want wide open spaces, just a few things and the accompanying more serene outlook. It doesn’t last, however …
… because stepping away, I suddenly want to be surrounded by smooth Scandi-style wood, well-turned accessories and kicky wall-mounted metal tribbles! A cool blue bottle does a great pop job amidst all the rich wood tones and updates what could be too-retro a scene.
A big part of the SoLo look is a sense of texture and wear. And whether that quality is the result of actual age, or manufactured, it really works and excites the eye. Here, clock-faces, globes, a shell encrusted lamp, and a case full of blue-themed items, gets all mixed up in a happy kind of way.
Here, there’s more wear, more texture and lots of pieces for dressing a home in a singular, personal way. Distressed furniture, a case-full of chunky, colorful jewelry, curlicued wrought iron, a life-sized human skull, and homespun pillows and table linens, all speak to the eye in a charming, yet twist-y, way.
One end of SoLo’s space seems to share a common theme, that of industrial chic á la français. Although everything is clearly not French per se, that sensibility permeates. Again, an elevating graphic-ness makes these items crisp in spite of their distressed surfaces and weathered patinas. The recurring punch of letter forms and clean colors like red, black and gray makes this vignette well-defined and clean cut. Love the pendant light fixtures with wire shades — they’re like salvaged artifacts from some faraway factory.
More graphic turns, more rustic punch, more French-y vibes mixed with industrial steeliness, there’s a total glut of eye candy here. I particularly love the large zinc-topped table in the foreground, and the horse anatomy chart on the back wall. But there’s one piece in the background that entranced me most …
… this crinoline repurposed as a pendant fixture’s shade. Although I’m not sure it would go fit in the Rancho’s design scheme, I really love the eccentricity of this piece. That scruffy old tripod lamp’s calling my name as well … I realize I’ve gone on a bit long over this one shop but it’s really much more than just another store. What I’ve shown in this post is just a portion of the amazing items available at SoLo, there’s still so much more surprise and delight I didn’t. You just have to go! In fact, Solana Beach should be a must on the every design aficionado’s list of destinations; there’s truly something for everyone. And, whether your design goals involve your indoor or outdoor spaces, you’ll come away with something, if only inspiration!