Q&A with Coryander Friend & Bianca Chen of Parachute Market

Q&A with Coryander Friend & Bianca Chen of Parachute Market

Abby Stone
Sep 16, 2014
(Image credit: Abby Stone)

With the preponderance of design fairs, flea markets and furniture shows, it can be challenging to separate the wheat from the chaff. One that's been causing a lot of buzz is the newly-minted Parachute Market which takes place this year over the weekend of September 20-21 in the new JF Chen space just north of the corner of Melrose and Highland in Los Angeles.

It began as a favor last year - stylist Coryander Friend was asked by Raan Parton of downtown LA's Apolis shop to curate a pop-up shop for the holidays that culled from her vast Rolodex of craftspeople and vintage dealers. It's now grown into a twice-yearly show that launches an online component with this show this time around. A partnership with Bianca Chen, and the support of Chen's father Joel — the proprietor of Los Angeles' legendary JF Chen — has propelled the event into a must-see. Reform Gallery, Scout Regalia and Cliff Fong are just some of this year's participants. Coryander, Bianca and I sat down in the new adjunct to the JF Chen space — a gorgeous and cavernous two story former bank building — where this weekend's event will be taking place so I could learn a little bit more about Parachute Market.

So, tell me a little about Parachute Market. What is it and how did it start?

Bianca: Coryander [Friend] conceived Parachute Market about a year ago. It's a conceptual design event as well as a marketplace. She asked me to co-curate this fall’s market and I was honored to do so.

Coryander: We're a bi-annual design fair that features furniture, art objects, fine art and fashion with a specific theme that changes with each show. When we started, in the summer of 2013, we were trying to fill a specific niche: there's this exciting climate of what's going on in Southern California right now but new designers did not have an LA-based show in which to introduce their work. And then the vintage community sought a more current model in which to show their collections. We celebrate both new design and vintage collecting as we see a real parallel and influence between the two. Here in LA definitely, but that influence has definitely spread beyond our borders.

What should visitors — real and virtual — not miss at the show this year?

Coryander: Really anyone featured in our show! We've got designers like Jason Koharik of Collected By who'll be showing more of his collection than has ever been seen before. Also there's new-to-LA designer Mary Little who is making exquisite work in the spirit of design-bending movements like Memphis. Then there's Dejong & Co., a brother-sister team. Peter designed for BDDW and Ruth is an accomplished art director for film. She's worked with Paul Thomas Anderson for years. For the people who can't get to LA, we're launching our e-commerce site later this fall. And then maybe there's a showroom coming?

Bianca: Definitely the space alone is worth coming for! This is pretty much the first event where we are unveiling JF Chen's new location. And you'll be able to find some JF Chen items here at a very affordable price. It's a breathtaking showcase for what we feel are amazing pieces.

Besides your own market, what are some of the other markets (flea markets, design fairs, etc) around the world that design nerds should put on their bucket list?

Bianca: Well I just returned from France and if you've never been, the flea market at Port de Clignancourt is always worth a trip.

Coryander: I'm a big fan of all of the SoCal flea markets, Long Beach especially. And then, hats off to the Echo Park Craft Fair, which really pioneered the craft show in LA. And then there are all the usuals — ICFF, Milan, Dwell on Design. And then us! The thing is that there are really very few boutique fairs happening with such a curatorial eye meaning we choose our participants to fit within a conceptual theme and give them the inspiration to create installations based on a collective conversation. It's not just a hodge podge of vendors.

Which brings us to this year's theme, Everpresent. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Coryander: This theme is very close to the heart of Parachute Market. Since I have a heavy lean towards vintage, it was a perfect opportunity to collaborate with our long-time supporters at JF Chen: Joel, who's a legendary collector, is also very committed to discovering and promoting new designers. This show, which focuses on timeless design — what's happening in California design right now harkens back to the 50s and 60s, when designer-makers were booming with creativity and broke ground for all that has emerged since. We want this show to exemplify that by showing what has come before and what is happening now. We've taken to calling our designers "the future collected".

Bianca: I always look for items that have a timeless design to them. Personally, I love ceramics. The different shapes, colors, the tangibility and the usefulness of them always bring personality to a room.

You’re decorating a home — money no object — what are some of the dream pieces you would definitely include?

Coryander: A BDDW sofa and casegoods. Vitsoe shelving. Parasouk vintage Moroccan rugs. Jason Koharik lighting. Re-worked vintage and new design. JF Chen galore. Victoria Morris ceramics. Anything Thonet, Ruth Asawa sculpture. Ouli brass ladders. White marble everything and lots and lots of negative space!

Bianca: If money were no object, then definitely a Frits Henningsen high wingback chair and a Ruth Asawa hanging sculpture.

And you can find a lot of those pieces at Parachute Market! For someone who might consider $1,000 a big splurge, what would you say is that one piece they should get at Parachute Market?

Coryander: Hard question but if you could work within the $1,000 line, then Jason Koharik lighting, for sure.

Bianca: For $1,000, I would definitely find a piece from JFChen because Parachute Market will be a unique opportunity to do so. Of course, I’m a bit biased!

Parachute Market will be held September 20-21 from 11 am to 6 pm at 1000 N. Highland Avenue in Los Angeles. Tickets at $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

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