Owned and operated by the most charming couple, A+R (which we're guessing stands for Andy and Rose, said charming couple) is a perfect Valentines Day love story. We had a chance to ask them some questions and found out the dirt on their connection, the store, and old fashioned seduction. Read it all after the cut:
As we mentioned, Andy and Rose are just a great solid couple. We were excited to get to know them a little bit better and to understand the hearts behind the store. We're glad to have you in Venice!
How long has A+R been around?:
As a concept, A+R was born over too many margaritas at a sleepy hideaway in Baja, in January 2005. We'd been dating less than a month, and immediately connected on more than just pheromones. Nine months later we signed the lease on our first location in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake. The e-commerce site launched in November 2006, followed by the Venice, Calif., "flagship" exactly a year later in 2007.
Where was the idea born?: To be exact, La Fonda--where we've returned many times since, including booking the entire place for our wedding in September 2007 (Andy's idea...and it was an epic one). We were riffing on the idea of the artists & repetoire departments at record companies--a business where we would seek out artists and designers and provide them a platform. For now that platform is retail and championing them through the press and other means. But we are keen on developing collaborative products, events and other creative opportunities.
What is the best part of your daily store life? Sharing all the stories behind the products. Our careers have always been about telling stories: Rose as a journalist and news editor, and Andy as an audio and film editor. And most of those stories involved artists who were on the cusp or below the radar--whether it was Rose being the first to write about an unknown visual artist or fashion designer, or Andy working with an indie musician or documentary filmmaker. We've just transitioned that curiosity and enthusiasm to A+R.
When do you know you've found something you want to carry? It's a pretty immediate sense. At least for one of us! We actually agree on most finds right away, ruling on items that charm and inspire, yet also function and enhance our lives. But when and If we don't, it may take some explaining the merits, time to mull over--and, if that doesn't work...old fashion seduction!
What is the all time best-selling item in the store? We were among the very first to carry Adam Frank's Lumens and Studio Qubus's range, and we continue to sell them like mad. Yet there are several contenders vying for the top spot. L.A. ceramacist Chris Stiles' Salt and Pepper Bones, FormUsWithLove's Cord Lamp and anything by German woodworker Sarah Finn. The resin belt buckles Silver Lake artist Brooks Salzwedel count fans on their third and fourth ones. So we recently pestered him into creating a line of pendants we are selling exclusively at this time. We have waiting lists now for the baby hand soaps originally created by Marie Gardeski for Foliage, as well as the foam Baby Foot Print by German sculptor Marlies von Soden.
What are you most proud of?: Being able to work together and still enjoying each other as much as that first weekend away in Baja.
What is your favorite color?: Can we cite three? Rose has been a sucker for anything red since she was a toddler and her mother opted for that color over pink. Andy loves IKB. That would be International Klein Blue, introduced to the world by French provocateur (are there any other kind of Frenchmen?) Yves Klein. And, of course, we get a kick from Pantone PMS 361--a.k.a A+R green.
What is your favorite material? Right now, we love rubber. We've scored bookends, candleholders and even salad bowls in rubber for A+R. We also are crazy for cork, borisilicate glass and porcelain. We pride ourselves in being one of the first design stores online to organize products according to materials. We are flattered by those who've followed our lead.
What is your favorite vacation destination? Southern Spain. Even though Rose was born in Madrid, where she still has relatives, and Andy fell in love with Barcelona when he briefly lived there in 2004, it's Sevilla and the surrounding country we're crazy for. We spent a delicious, riotous time at our friend's farm in Huelva over New Year's. Those folks know how to party in mad style.
Where would you build a dream house and what style would it be? We would have our pal Barbara Bestor design the home on the land's edge of Big Sur, with glass expanses, communal areas, and plenty of room for friends and family to crash and to dress with all of the artwork, pottery and other crafts we've collected together.
And finally, is there anything about the store that people might be surprised to know about/or is there anything else you'd like to throw in? A store like ours wouldn't exist the way it does--offering undiscovered finds from far-flung places or unknown designers--without the internet. We love to travel, but we also wade through a multitude of global blogs. It just keeps us feeling connected to this great and growing community of talent and allows us to help spread their stories.
Thanks Andy and Rose!