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Canyons & Valley Edition

SUMMER LIVING AT ITS BEST • Furniture • Home tours • Accessories

( Outdoors, that is)



Fabio Viviani brings star power to Café Firenze

The latest must-have gadgets

May/June 2009

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southern california May/June 2009


15 Trade Secrets

Pioneering outdoor furniture designer Richard Schultz reinvents himself with each new collection.

17 Shop Treatment

An eco-friendly collection of tables and benches makes its debut at Sean Knibb’s trendy new showroom, 1524.

20 Outdoor Living

Celebrate the arrival of summer with a collection of must-have accessories for outdoor entertaining and living.


26 The Great Outdoors

Debbie and Neil Schwartz fulfill their love of entertaining with a welcoming oasis in their Beverly Hills backyard.

33 A Perfect Match

Renowned architect Jeffrey Kalban combines form and function in his own Studio City home.


42 Chef’s Table

Italian-born chef Fabio Viviani offers a taste of Florence at Café Firenze.

52 High-Tech Home

Cutting-edge inventions are useful yet unique.

56 Cause for Applause

Valley business leaders honor their best and brightest members.

Color and texture create a warm and welcoming backyard paradise at the Beverly Hills home of Debbie and Neil Schwartz. “What I’m always trying to get at is the seamlessness of inside to outside so that you’re really using the outdoors as part of your living space,” says designer Sandy Koepke, who helped define the couple’s style. Photo by David Crane. On the cover: Designer Dougan Clarke creates a razor-thin canopy that’s the perfect outdoor accessory for Southern California’s year-round sunshine. Details and buying information on page 20. Photo courtesy Design Within Reach.

 spaces may/june 2009

58 Finishing Touch

Artist Lidia Shaddow draws inspiration from everyday life in Southern California.

Eastern Art Décor We’ve traveled to Thailand, India, Africa, Indonesia, and China to bring you one of a kind pieces.

editor’s letter

Putting the life in lifestyle


s a kid growing up in Denver, I loved the arrival of

Memorial Day and its promise of a relaxed and light- hearted summer. We’d hose off the picnic table, cov-

er it with a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth and eat dinner on the patio every night until Labor Day. I’d while away the days, reading on a chaise lounge parked in the backyard until the inevitable afternoon thunderstorm chased me back inside.

Imagine my delight at moving to the San Fernando

Valley, where summer — and its carefree mindset — seemingly never ends. It’s in that spirit that Spaces offers its annual “Outdoor Living” issue, featuring stylish products and fresh ideas for enjoying Southern California’s best asset. We showcase outdoor furniture, check out the debut collection of LA’s own Sean Knibb and get inside the creative mind of pioneer designer Richard Schultz. We also visit with two Southern California families, who describe how they integrated their indoor and outdoor living environments. We hope their creativity inspires you to explore your own.

Have a good story idea to share? Comments about the magazine? Write to me at


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andra Barrera enjoys pursuing functional, stylish and sustainable spaces, so she was in her element during a backyard visit with Debbie and Neil Schwartz of Beverly Hills. Sandra has had the privilege of visiting many beautiful homes as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Daily News, where she’s covered design, fashion and entertainment since 2000.


atalie Haughton’s quest for hot new restaurants takes her to Café Firenze in surburban Moorpark, where chef Fabio Viviani is making his mark. A longtime food editor and restaurant critic at the Los Angeles Daily News, Natalie has judged numerous national cooking contests and is the author of six cookbooks on topics ranging from slow cookers to desserts.

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Volume 2 • Issue 3


Steven Gellman editor

Barbara Jones editorial director

Oscar Garza

national editor

Denise Gee

designer LeeAnn Nelson

photo director Dean Musgrove

contributing writers

Sandra Barrera Holly Berecz Jerry Berrios Natalie Haughton

contributing photographers Michael Owen Baker

David Crane

marketing director Bill Van Laningham research director Liz Hamm

creative services manager Paul Schraeder

advertising account executive Meaghan Miller office manager Mary Anne Rozinsky

Los Angeles Newspaper Group president & ceo

Edward R. Moss executive vice president & cfo

James Siegrist  Publisher, Torrance Daily Breeze & Long Beach Press Telegram

Mark Ficarra

contact us editorial:  (818) 713-3297 advertising: (818) 713-3294 Copyright 2009 Southern California Spaces magazine by the Los Angeles Newspaper Group. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Southern California Spaces magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos or artwork even if accompanied by a stamped self-addressed envelope. Comments? Southern California Spaces welcomes story ideas and comments from our readers. Write to: Spaces, 21860 Burbank Blvd., Ste. 120, Woodland Hills, CA 91367

12 spaces may/june 2009

may/june 2009 spaces 13

14 spaces may/june 2009


so cool

Outdoor furniture designer Richard Schultz


Sustainable design takes on a chic new twist Coolest goods for the hottest backyards

The father-and-son team of Richard and Peter Schultz.

Force of nature ProliďŹ c designer draws inspiration from the great outdoors By Sandra Barrera


ichard Schultz has been in the vanguard of outdoor furniture-makers for decades, with innovative and en-

during designs often inspired by nature. Best known for his award-winning 1966 Collection of chaise lounges, chairs and ta-

Chairs from the iconic 1966 Collection, above right, retain a simple silhouette while the new Wing collection is more stylized.

bles for Florence Knoll’s interior design and manufacturing house, Schultz pioneered the way people live outdoors.

may/june 2009 spaces 15


so cool “Many people look at [the colors of the Wing collection] and go, ‘Wow! Those are bright colors to use outside.’ Well, those

At 82, he continues to produce new prod-

ucts, as well as his iconic 1966 Collection, under the guise of Richard Schultz Design Inc. ( Schultz founded the Pennsylvania-based company in 1992 with Peter Schultz, the eldest of his four children. We spoke by phone recently with the 50-year-old architect during his two-hour commute from the company’s factory to his

colors came from

apartment in New York.

nature. Those aren’t

At what point did you decide to start a company with your father?

colors we invented. For instance, the green came from an apple off a tree by the house.”

I’ve always enjoyed looking at furniture with my father. I remember he’d do sketches and then as quickly as he could, he’d turn a sketch

parents would sit in the yard in the evening and have cocktails, and we always had furniture in the garden.

What was it like growing up around great design?

into a quarter-scale model made out of what-

It was a wonderful, creative environment. My

ever materials were available and then pho-

father had a shop next to the house. I’d al-

tograph it against a background. If you didn’t

ways go in there, too. We always had projects

have any reference, you couldn’t tell that it

going. But in addition to that, there were all

was a scale model.

my parents’ furniture-designer friends who

came around, like Harry Bertoia, who lived

At one point, we were discussing his

models of Topiary furniture. I thought we should work on a full-size mockup, which we did, and then we showed it to a number of furniture companies that made outdoor furniture. They had no idea what to make of this strange piece of furniture full of holes. It looked like a sieve.

So, I said to my father, “This is it.”

around the corner.

Didn’t your father get his start with Harry Bertoia at Knoll? Harry was working in L.A. with (designers Charles and Ray) Eames when Florence Knoll convinced him to move east and work with her on developing some new products. So, my father’s first job at Knoll was to work with

Was the focus on outdoor furniture from the get go?

Harry. For my father, who was right out of

Yes, and I think it’s very appropriate we work

cause the process was so innovative. They had

on outdoor furniture because I grew up in a

no pre-conception of what the new line might

house out in the country, far from everything.

look like. Harry just took his welding torch

school, that was an impressive thing to do be-

The closest neighbor lived within a mile or so

and some wire and started bending it, and he

of the house, and there were a lot of nice

wound up making these pieces that are really

lawns and layers of trees in between. My

quite beautiful and now considered classic. At the time it was quite revolutionary.

Your father is also known for being innovative. My father has always been able to find an innovative aspect to all of his work. That heralds our design philosophy, which is not to repeat what somebody else has done and tweak it a

16 Spaces may/june 2009

SHOP TREATMENT little bit, but to try to do something that in its effort is innovative and new.

My father in his ’66 Collection designed a

chair, which was really one of the first on the market with fabric stretched tightly across it as a sling. In addition, he exploited a technique using casting and extrusion—respectively, solid and hollow aluminum sections— attached together. So, if you look at all the ’66 furniture, all the horizontals—which look very wide, like the edge of the table and the edge of the chaise—those are all extrusions.

The castings are the legs, so it looks like

he’s drawn something with an italic pen.

Years later, what allowed us to make the

Topiary product was the advent of a computer-controlled punch press. The newest chair, which we call Wing, is done using a water jet to cut the metal.

Wing is such a bright, colorful collection. It’s interesting because many people look at those colors and go, “Wow! Those are bright colors to use outside.” Well, those colors came from nature. Those aren’t colors we invented. For instance, the green came from an apple off a tree by the house.

Are you at work on anything new? Based on the armless dining chair, we’re doing an armless bar-height chair and also an armless counter-height chair. We found that a lot of people want to sit at tables that are higher than normal because perhaps they can see over the railing, or it’s easier to get in and out of chairs.

One of the problems is that my father

keeps making more and more designs. We

Design with a (re)purpose Old becomes new in furniture showroom By Jerry Berrios

Wrapped in chic, cushioned slipcovers,

flames dancing atop gravel in the middle of

time to work through all the processes and

ideas. We’ll run out of money or time first.

from everyday life.

ground gas lines feed hidden nubs, sending

a little more behind because it takes a lot of

It’s true that for us we’ll never run out of

ventional design as he transforms or-

dinary outdoor spaces into magical retreats

1524 1524 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice 310/450-5552;

tomans for outdoor seating areas. Under-

comes up with ideas. So, everyday we get

At least you’re not short on ideas.

an unconventional approach to con-

rough bales of hay become comfortable ot-

can’t make the furniture as quickly as he

figure out how to make the furniture.


andscape designer Sean Knibb takes

Above: A Sean Knibb table sets off a spectacular lamp designed by Peter Carlson of CL Sterling & Son.

an inviting garden. And concrete pavers and hearty plants transform a small urban courtyard into a lush hideaway.

“Designing gardens allows me to be ex-

tremely creative and work with something

may/june 2009 spaces 17


so cool that’s always changing,” Knibb says. “A garden has to have a synchronicity and rhythm. What it takes to achieve that is difficult to define, but it’s always my goal. I’m always looking for new elements, and turning old into new to find my rhythm.”

That same philosophy infuses Knibb’s

debut line of indoor-outdoor furniture, an eco-friendly collection of tables and benches made of wood salvaged from construction tear-downs around Los Angeles. Each piece Landscape designer Sean Knibb has opened 1524, a showroom named for his street address on trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

A converted bungalow showcases eco-friendly outdoor furniture and lighting fixtures.

is unique—hardwood planks set in metal frames in colors straight out of a child’s first

Set in a painted metal frame, a 4’x4’ foot coffee table of recycled hardwood retails for $780.

box of crayons. “The wood is so old and so

fixtures designed by Peter Carlson, founder

hard,” Knibb says. “It is so perfect for outside.

of CL Sterling & Son.

It is not going to move, twist or bend.”

The collection of sustainable designs

Crystal collection of chandeliers, sconces

was unveiled at 1524, the showroom Knibb

and lamps is made from recycled materials

opened recently in a converted bunga-

—remnants of lead crystal found at the bot-

low next to his eponymous design studio.

tom of glass factory kilns in Portugal. “It’s the

Named for its street address on Venice’s

same aesthetic with an interesting material,”

trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the aus-

says Carlson, whose creations range from

tere showroom also carries elegant lighting

$700 to $8,000.

Like Knibb’s furniture, Carlson’s Rock

While Knibb is expanding his creative

horizons, he hasn’t abandoned his love of landscaping design. The grandson of florist Marian Cohen, Knibb grew up working in her floral studio in Montego Bay, Jamaica. He opened Knibb Design in 1993, and through his lush and elegant landscapes built a clientele that includes celebrities Cameron Diaz, Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez.

Dwight Stuart Jr., of Beverly Hills is

among those who now relish the outdoor sanctuary created by Knibb’s imagination. “I like tucked-away areas of a garden that reveal themselves,” Stuart says. “We call them sweet spots.”

Some of the elements of these lavish de-

signs are on display in a modular garden that Knibb created outside of the 1524 showroom. Based on various templates and sold by the square foot, the elements allow Knibb to transform an ordinary yard into an urban oasis in about six weeks. Photo by Scott Varley

18 Spaces may/june 2009

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Outside ‘in’ Kick back with our picks for the coolest goods in outdoor living, from lighting to flooring

20 Spaces may/june 2009

z Razor-sharp design Shield yourself with this sharp-dressed Razor Shade Platform (100”H x 130”W), designed by Dougan Clarke and manufactured by Tuuci. Clarke, an expert in sail rigging, drew from more than a decade in the marine industry to create this always tilted, razor-thin canopy. In silver or white, the umbrella is made of UV-stabilized, vinyl-coated, polyester fabric with a “sharkskin” reflective coating; in green or orange it’s made of acrylic Sunbrella canvas. Other components are stainless steel and marine-anodized aluminum alloy. Available in green, orange, silver or white; $1,350 for the umbrella, $500 for the specially made stand. From Design Within Reach; or 800/944-2233. Photo courtesy Design Within Reach.

Grow up x

z Sail worthy Keep your cool with this nautical-style 54-inch Sanibel ceiling fan from the Hunter Fan Co. It’s rated for damp environments like covered porches and features washable off-white sailcloth. It also promises a quiet motor and wobble-free performance. In bronze or white finishes; about $200; or 888/830-1326.

This cedar Living Wall (22”W x 59”H x 6”D) is beautiful in so many ways. It can be combined with others to create a partition around an outdoor living area or hung on a wall to bring natural beauty to a small space, outdoors or in (thanks to water being collected within a removable tray at the bottom). Two planting panels allow for both sides to come alive. Just add soil, small plants, water and sunlight; $399; or 800/940-1170.

y Warm feelings For the look of a built-in fireplace without the built-in price, consider one you can have without a lot of masonry fuss. This wood-burning Stone Grey Large Fireplace, in a sandy texture that ages well over time, is made from a patented concrete blend that’s lighter and stronger than concrete. It features a spark arrester (to prevent hazardous sparks from leaving the hood), as well as a firebox and grate. The three-piece interlocking unit (42”W x 72”H x 28”D), is touted as easy to assemble; $2,199; or 800/940-1170.

w Flower power The bold colors and modern floral prints are fun, but the true power of these Flower Plates is rooted in their construction—of lightweight, practically indestructible melamine. Another plus: They’re 11 inches wide, the ideal size for presenting whatever you’re serving, with all the sides. In a variety of patterns; $6.95; or 800/967-6696.

may/june 2009 spaces 21


so cool Green light x How fitting that this light fixture looks like it actually belongs outdoors. This six-light Twig Chandelier (38”W x 36”H), developed by Adirondack Mountain artisans for Meyda, can be used within covered patios (it’s rated for damp locations) but can be customized for wet locations. A flush-mount version is also available. About $3,300; meyda. com or 800/222-4009.

w Hot topic If you haven’t noticed, red is the hot new color for appliances, indoors and out. Here’s a great-looking, great-cooking grill from Char-Broil that uses evenly distributed infrared heat. Because of that, it uses one-third less gas, and won’t catch fire from dripping food juices. (There’s no open flame, which also helps keep food moist.) The grill, with rotisserie and 13,000 BTU side burner, offers a wide temperature range for everything from slow-cooking to intense searing. With storage underneath; $599; or 866/239-6777.

Two-timer x Target calls this the Orbit Lounger, perhaps for its circular Atomic Age styling. This allin-one set features two chaise lounges, a retractable umbrella, comfy reclining cushions, two toss pillows and a tabletop made of tempered glass—a nice spot to place a refreshing sipper while you chat with a fellow lounger; $400; or 800/440-0680.

22 spaces may/june 2009

19855 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills 818.348.6000

Outward Bound By Sandra Barrera Photos by David Crane


ebbie and Neil Schwartz are known for Shabbat dinner at their Beverly Hills home, where on comfortable

evenings the Jewish observance begins on the backyard patio under the lofty, vine-cov-

ered pergola.

“We’ll hang out here and have what we

call our Shabbas margaritas and then we’ll go in and have dinner,” says Neil, a residential real estate executive who notes that the regular Friday night gatherings have drawn a diverse bunch over the years, including playInterior and garden designer Sandy Koepke created a backyard oasis for Debbie and Neil Schwartz, opposite, using salvaged and recycled materials like the nautical ladder at right, which serves double duty as yard art and a poolside towel rack.

ers from the Los Angeles Sparks, the WNBA organization where Debbie’s daughter once interned. “It’s an open invitation,” Debbie offers. “You should come by.”

The ever-gracious hosts are happy to show

off their backyard, thanks to the efforts of interior and garden designer Sandy Koepke. Through a years-long collaboration, she’s helped the Schwartzes create an outdoor living area that suits their love of entertaining and complements the late-1920s Spanishstyle architecture of their two-story home.

“What I’m always trying to get at is the

Vintage design inspires year-round entertaining 26 spaces may/june 2009

may/june 2009 spaces 27

“…really what I’m buying is everybody else’s junk,” says Debbie.

28 spaces may/june 2009

seamlessness of inside to outside so that

of the outdoor entertaining area. The rustic

you’re really using the outdoors as part of

brick patio is furnished with deep, comfort-

your living space,” Koepke says. “‘Let’s make

able seating and lushly overhung with flow-

this part of our life. Let’s come out here with

ering vines, baskets of succulents, and group-

our food and read the paper,’ and they do

ings of well-weathered pulleys and other

that. They truly hang out here.”

flea-market finds.

Through a large window in the Mexican

folk-tiled kitchen, you get the first glimpse

This light-hearted approach is the signa-

ture of Koepke, the principal of Los Angeles-

based Sandy Koepke Interior Design, whose work has been featured in national shelter magazines, design books and on HGTV.

“Sandy was into old rusty things, and

really what I’m buying is everybody else’s junk,” says Debbie, who took Koepke’s cue and began scouring second-hand stores, antique shops and flea markets for collectibles.

Above: Decorative ironwork complements the backyard’s rustic theme while plantadorned steps ease the transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. Left: A weathered-wooden bench serves as a clever shelf for Debbie’s growing collection of succulents. Right: Succulents provide a low-maintenance option for outdoor areas.

may/june 2009 spaces 29

“We did really well in Long Beach…and when

Schwartzes’ yard since the couple moved

we used to travel for basketball we’d go to

into the upscale neighborhood just off

cities like San Antonio and Colorado Springs

Wilshire Boulevard 11 years ago. They were

and buy a ton of stuff.

still dating (each had been married before),

“Oh, and I bought on eBay,” she says. “I

so the first big celebration in the backyard

was an eBay addict.”

was their wedding.

These relics of the past give character to

the Schwartzes’ outdoors space, which is evi-

Debbie was still practicing law when

they first decided to build up the yard, her

dent from the moment you walk out the back

days booked with client conferences. When

door and onto the container-lined steps. Deb-

the designer would call asking for a decision

bie and Neil point out their treasures amid all

about the design, Debbie’s response was

the color and texture of the yard, including

typically, “What would you do if it was your

a giant wrought-iron chandelier that they

house?” Not surprisingly, neither she nor

brought back from San Antonio.

Neil was satisfied with the result, which

At the back of the property, wrought-iron

resulted in sparse landscaping and a white

hanging lamps are clustered in a corner of the

painted pergola.

poolside where colorful Guatemalan weave

upholstered chaise lounges are accented by

the barbecue, we had the warming oven, we

“We used it, we had the patio, we had

Catalina tile-topped side tables, vintage pot-

had it pretty much as you see it and then we

tery and antique milk canisters. On the other

had the overhang,” Neil says. “It was like you

side of the pool, next to the base of the flower-

would find in a nice fine home. But it didn’t

Right: A cluster of lanterns from Berbere Imports in Culver City provides a warm and flattering light for nighttime gatherings.

ing vine that covers the pergola, a rusty boat

connect with the house very well.”

ladder plunged into the dirt doubles as yard

art and a towel hanger for swimming guests.

ther. They eventually began working with

Below: Recycled materials frame a view of the Beverly Hills backyard.

It didn’t connect with the Schwartzes ei-

The theme continues into the guesthouse,

Koepke, who helped them explore the rela-

a converted detached garage. A decorative iron

tionship between their home and their yard

gate is mounted above the door like a canopy

and to fulfill their vision of a true outdoor liv-

while a tiled tabletop mural of a flamenco

ing place.

dancer is reincarnated as a wall hanging.

anywhere else.”

30 spaces may/june 2009

This is the second redesign of the

Now, Neil says, “I can’t imagine living

Salvaging the past In her hunt for re-purposed items, here are some of designer Sandy Koepke’s favorite haunts: Long Beach Outdoor Antique & Collectible Market what: More than 800 exhibitors sell antiques and

collectibles, including tins, Depression glass and Mission-style furniture. when: 6:30 a.m.–3 p.m. the third Sunday of every month where: Veterans Stadium, 5000 Lew Davis St., Long Beach admission: $5; children under 12 free contact: 323/655-5703;

Rose Bowl Flea Market what: More than 2,500 vendors offer new and used

housewares, antique furnishings and more. when: 9 a.m.–3 p.m., the second Sunday of every month where: Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena admission: $8; children under 12 free. contact: 323/560-7469;

Pasadena Architectural Salvage what: The inventory includes stained-glass windows,

columns and fireplace mantels. when: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday,

noon–5 p.m. Sunday where: 30 S. San Gabriel Blvd., Pasadena contact: 626/535-9655;

Olde Good Things what: Catering to “architecturologists,” the store sells when: where: contact:

decorative iron, doors, terra cotta and more. 9 a.m.–6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. weekends 1800 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. 213/746-8600;

may/june 2009 spaces 31

form The Pavilion is a gathering place for the Kalbans, who relish the light and airy feeling of the octagonal addition.

32 spaces may/june 2009

Architect Jeffrey Kalban designs for the good life—indoors & out


e’s built sophisticated campuses for Los Angeles’ most prestigious private schools, designed a building

at the famed Getty Center and recently won an American Institute of Architect’s award for a spectacular beachfront home in Mali-

bu. We couldn’t help but wonder, therefore, about architect Jeffrey Kalban’s own home in the San Fernando Valley: Does the creativity that brought the Southland some of its most noteworthy landmarks infuse his own house? A recent visit with the affable Kalban revealed that his imagination apparently never takes a rest. The 1,350-square-foot bungalow that he and wife Maria bought a quarter-century ago has nearly doubled in size, transformed by the addition of contemporary rooms and complementary outdoor areas. Colorful modern artwork by the self-taught painter and sculptor graces every room, and even the leather furniture in the cozy living room is Kalban’s own design. He’s quick to point out, however, that he

function was just one member of the creative team

By Barbara Jones

• Photos by John McCoy

may/june 2009 spaces 33

responsible for the evolution of the home.

architects I.M. Pei and William Pereira. “You

a “team accomplishment,” there are some

“They’re my toughest clients,” jokes Kal-

keeping listening for the exceptional thing,”

constants in all of the creations—bright col-

ban, nodding at Maria and their 21-year-old

he says. “You design from the inside out. You

ors, uncluttered details and the ethereal feel-

daughter, Jennifer, both of whom have art-

listen to what the client wants and to all of

ing of freedom.

work displayed throughout the house.

their concerns. Once you solve the problems,

then you can start on the design.”

ily room and you’re reminded of the soaring

Whether it’s a residential, academic or

arches adorning the classroom buildings he

ria, a retired retail buyer and entrepreneur

institutional project, his designs are—above

designed for the Harvard-Westlake School.

who creates whimsical fabric sculptures and

all—functional, with sophisticated lines sup-

Admire Kalban’s wall sculptures and com-

weaves brightly hued runners and throws.

porting a versatile use of space. “Every room

pare them to the bright hues of the regional

Kalban says his ability to listen—whether

has its own personality and character,” Kal-

homeless center he built in Hollywood. Run

to his family or to his clients at Jeffrey M. Kal-

ban says, “and it changes from day to day.”

your hands along the gently curved walls and

ban & Associates—is an approach he learned

While Kalban notes that the successful proj-

recall the same silhouette at the Pan Pacific

early in his career, working with pre-eminent

ects produced by his 10-member firm are

Park community center. Then bask in the

“I can relate a feeling to him that I want to

create and he’s able to translate it,” says Ma-

34 spaces may/june 2009

Look skyward in Kalban’s octagonal fam-

“You design from the inside out. You listen to what the client wants and to all of their concerns. Once you solve the problems, then you can start on the design.�

Above: A colorful wall sculpture by Jeffrey Kalban graces the walls of the living room. Top right: An oversized window gives the illusion that the outdoor swimming pool flows under the house. The woven table runner was created by Maria Kalban. Right: Comfortable furniture designed by Jeffrey Kalban provides a cozy seating area in the living room.

may/june 2009 spaces 35

light steaming into the house from oversized windows throughout, and realize it’s the same airy feeling you get during a visit to the Getty Center’s South Building (which complements the eight other Getty structures, which were designed by renowned architect Richard Meier).

“Spaces need functions to give them life

and vitality,” he says, “and each space’s function has to be its own.”

The same holds true in designing outdoor

spaces, says Kalban, who explains below how he created a seamless expansion of the family’s living space. The Fireside Room provides the perfect ambiance for family gatherings.

Clever landscaping gives The Palm Court both privacy and access to friendly neighbors.


n 1984, Maria and I decided it was time to move out of our apartment

fect for family or neighborhood

and begin creating a home of our own. I had just opened my own ar-

gatherings. It’s also adjacent

chitecture firm, so we were not in the market for anything extravagant.

to the backyard, where Maria’s

We just wanted a place that matched where we were in our lives, but

green thumb has created a lush

could grow along with us.

retreat. Visitors can sit around

Both of us were raised back East, so were looking for something

the pool and enjoy the sun or

that would allow us to take advantage of Southern California’s beauti-

seek shelter in the shady area

ful weather. We settled on a small house built in 1939. It wasn’t exactly

we’ve dubbed The Cove. The

what we wanted–it was interior-focused and felt closed up–but it had

other side of the house, facing

interesting bay windows and a large lot. It offered opportunities, and

our art studio, is The Retreat, a

we set out to make it our own.

linear garden that provides the

Our first project opened up the living room by replacing two

perfect setting for seeking in-

ordinary windows with doors that led to a large side yard. We

spiration. Although the garden

later added a bedroom wing when Jennifer was born, and more

is small and out of the way, we

recently built an octagonal “pavilion” that serves as a sort of family

would have missed a wonderful

room. Each addition was designed to add light and life to a closed-

opportunity had we allowed this

36 spaces may/june 2009

The Retreat creates a linear garden in a secluded side yard.

off space. With each addition, we created a

area to simply languish.

complementary exterior space, each of which has

The octagonal addition we call The Pavilion is an indoor space de-

its own special nickname.

signed to create a feeling of being out of doors. It has huge windows on

The Palm Court, for example, leading to the

four sides that create beautiful light and we can open them to let in the

front door, is my special place for enjoying a martini.

breeze. On Halloween, we even sit in The Pavilion and hand out candy

Shielded by layered planting and two triangular

to trick-or-treaters through the open window! Maria and Jenny were

palms, its seclusion also makes for a wonderful

my “clients” on The Pavilion. We all talked about what we wanted, and

place to dine. However, it can also function as

designed the project from the inside out. There was a lot of trial and

a traditional front porch, giving us access to our

error, and we probably went through a dozen designs. We didn’t know

neighbors and providing a rare opportunity to use

exactly what we wanted—but we knew when it was right.

the front yard.

Just off the foyer is a glass door that takes visi-

been opened up to the outdoors, and the landscape has been

tors out to The Fireside Room, our side yard where

designed to draw visitors to all parts of the yard. The inside and

a contemporary outdoor fireplace takes the chill

outside have become one. Our home and our lives celebrate the

out of the evening air. The seating area is per-

beauty of Southern California.

It has taken 25 years, but a house that was introspective has

may/june 2009 spaces 37

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chef’s table

Charming chef brings taste of Florence to Moorpark By Natalie Haughton


Fabio Viviani’s charisma won him accolades on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef,” and now diners can watch him at work in the open kitchen at Café Firenze.

42 spaces may/june 2009

ven if you’ve never been there be-

spoken in heavily accented English garnered

fore, there’s something very familiar

accolades from viewers, who voted him the

about Café Firenze. It could be that

“fan favorite.” His rapport with his audience

the warm atmosphere of the suburban Moor-

is one established during years as a restaura-

park restaurant reminds you of a Tuscan villa

teur—a career launched in the kitchen of his

you once visited. Or that the aroma emanat-

childhood home in Florence, Italy.

ing from the kitchen is like something your

nonna used to make.

just 6 when he joined his grandmother in

“I was a bad boy,” says Viviani, who was

Or it could be Fabio Viviani himself, the

the kitchen. “To keep me quiet and from de-

executive chef who competed in Season 5 of

stroying the whole house, she used to have

Bravo TV’s “Top Chef.” Although he didn’t

me help her cook.”

win the grand prize, his charming repartee

The budding chef got his first restaurant

Photos: Michael Owen Baker

Bravo for Fabio

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chef’s table Many of the creations at Café Firenze are made from recipes handed down by chef Fabio Viviani’s family. Beef with roasted mushrooms (bottom) is a house specialty.

Bartender Damiano Carrara mixes up one of Café Firenze’s signature drinks. At right, a balsamic martini is embellished with a watermelon slice shaped like the symbol of Florence.

Serves 1 3 small strawberries 4 lime wedges ¾ ounce simple syrup (purchased or homemade) 12 to 15 dashes balsamic vinegar (aged preferred) 1½ ounces vanilla-flavored rum Ice cubes Garnish: Whole strawberry, lime wedge In a cocktail shaker, combine strawberries, lime wedges and simple syrup. Using a muddler or back of a spoon, crush ingredients until strawberries are pureéd. Add balsamic vinegar, rum and ice cubes. Shake well. To serve, strain beverage into a chilled martini glass (adding some of strawberry puree). Garnish with a whole strawberry and/or fresh lime wedge. —Shared by Jacopo Falleni, mixologist, general manager and co-owner

44 spaces may/june 2009

job at age 12 and enrolled in culinary school

who found himself frustrated with the op-

a year later. In his 20s, a tour of Europe gar-

eration he’d created. “I was bored out of my

nered him experience cooking in restaurants

head,” he recalls. “I wasn’t looking anymore,

in France, Spain and Germany. By the time he

just managing people.”

returned to Tuscany, he had the knowledge,

Searching for broader opportunities and

skill and drive to open a series of restaurants

an outlet for his ambition, Viviani sold most

and dance clubs, along with a farmhouse

of his properties and moved to Southern


California. Arriving in December 2005, he

went to work in the kitchen of Café Fiore in

But that still wasn’t enough for Viviani,

Photos: Bartender, Michael Owen Baker; martini and appetizer, David Crane


chef’s table SPOTLIGHT ON...


Ventura, which was being managed by his best friend, Jacopo Falleni. “Everyone thought I was crazy,” Viviani says. “I’d never been to the United States be-

AGE: 30

fore and didn’t speak one word of English.”

HOMETOWN: Florence, Italy.

But he quickly picked up the language, as

FAVORITE FOODS: F Rib-eye steak; fresh egg noodle pasta; a glass of cold whole milk in the morning, and a glass of nice red wine from the Chianti region at night. “Every day I drink three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. I haven’t missed a day since I was 3 years old. My cholesterol is 137.” FAVORITE DISHES AT HIS RESTAURANT: Roasted mushroom risotto, butternut squash ravioli, dry-aged prime beef steaks. “I feed customers the way I like to eat.”

well as the American way of life. He met and married his wife, Jessica. And he and Falleni bought and renovated the 9,000-square-foot building in Moorpark that opened as Café Firenze in the fall of 2007. Specializing in Tuscan dishes with Florentine flair, many of the creations are made from traditional recipes handed down by Viviani’s family. He insists on baking his

FAVORITE FFOODS AT HOME: Very-thin-crust pizza, Nutella imported from Italy, homemade chocolate gelato. FAVORITE KITCHEN GADGET: Tongs. “They are an extension of my own arm.”

FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Il Pallaio, a trattoria in Florence. FAVORITE COOKBOOK: “Jamie’s Italy,” by Jamie Oliver. HOBBIES: Gardening; fishing; riding his Ducati motorbike. IDEAL VACAT VACATION: Drinking a glass of ice-cold wine on a beach in Sardinia with wife Jessica. THE WORST WORST PART OF BEING A CHEF: “If you really cook through the day and nighttime, you smell like fry oil. But the best part is that if the restaurant is successful, you hire a chef and he smells like fry oil.”

46 spaces may/june 2009

The dry-aged rib-eye steak is one of chef Fabio Viviani’s favorite dishes.

own bread, making some of the pastas and cheeses, dry-aging meat and preparing his own desserts. His signature dishes include butternut squash ravioli and a rib-eye steak served with asparagus and a porcini mushroom sauce. “If you have a good ingredient, keep it simple,” he says. “Don’t complicate things with a lot of ingredients that don’t go with the dish. Having a fancy dish with fancy ingredients and fancy presentation doesn’t mean it is good. Taste and quality of ingredients are most important.” The restaurant serves an average of 200 to 250 lunches daily, and as many as 700 dinners on a weekend night. Many of the customers come from the San Fernando Valley and Ventura, but also as far away as

Photos: Viviani, Michael Owen Baker; steak, David Crane

PET PEEVE: PEEVE: When a restaurant customer complains on a Saturday night that the entree is not served within 20 minutes of ordering. “Quality needs time.”

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chef’s table Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. A younger crowd packs the bar on Friday and Saturday nights, drawn by such eclectic concoctions as bell pepper, basil-lemon drop and—the most popular—balsamic martinis. And Viviani also teaches culinary classes twice a month at the restaurant.

Viviani hopes to replicate the success of

Café Firenze when he opens a second location in Ventura, along with an Italian steak house, by the end of the year. His first cookbook, “The Café Firenze Cookbook,” written with Falleni, is scheduled to be released in May, and he’s already at work on a second.

Viviani’s success on “Top Chef” brought

him a slew of product endorsements, including San Pelligrino mineral water and Santa Margherita Wines, along with offers for his own television show. So if Viviani’s face isn’t familiar to you yet, just wait. You’ll likely be seeing him very soon. Photos: Pasta, David Crane; Café Firenze, Michael Owen Baker

PASTA WITH CHERRY TOMATOES AND PANCETTA Serves 3 to 4 1 pound (16 ounces) fettuccine or other pasta, fresh or cooked ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling 4 cloves garlic, minced or very thinly sliced 1 cup finely diced pancetta Pinch chili flakes 3 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved (heirloom variety preferred) Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste 1 cup chopped fresh basil 1 cup freshly grated Pamigiano-Reggiano cheese Using a large sauté pan or skillet, heat olive oil until hot (but not smoking). Add garlic, pancetta and chili flakes, and sauté over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until garlic is translucent and pancetta is crisp. Stir in tomatoes and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook 4 to 5 minutes until toma-

restaurant Café Firenze Italian

Restaurant and Martini Bar 563 W. Los Angeles Ave. Moorpark 805/532-0048

toes start to soften. Stir in ¾ cup basil and cook 20 seconds. Remove from heat. Add cooked pasta to tomato mixture and combine well. To serve, top with light drizzle of olive oil, additional pepper, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and remaining basil. —Shared by Fabio Viviani, executive chef and co-owner

48 spaces may/june 2009

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52 spaces may/june 2009

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An Historic Location for Meetings, Parties and Events (mid-week specials)

cause for applause

No ‘Illusions’ as Valley chamber fetes business leaders


he Big Apple — or at least Hollywood’s version of it— provided a festive backdrop as the Greater San

Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce held its 97th annual Inaugural Ball at CBS

Studios’ New York Street backlot.

A red carpet welcomed the 250 guests to

the famed set, tucked amid the sound stages where some of the industry’s most popular and best-loved television shows have been filmed. In addition to dinner, dancing and entertainment, the March 27 event featured a silent auction to benefit the organization’s advocacy programs.

The Valley’s largest chamber continued

its tradition of honoring business and community leaders during the gala, which this Party-goers, from left, Lee Kanon Alpert and his wife Arlene visit with David Fleming and Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield.

year carried the theme “Illusions.”

The Chairman’s Award of Distinction was

presented to Mike Thomas, owner of Thomas Graphics in North Hollywood, in recognition of his ingenuity, teamwork and contributions to the chamber.

Four additional honors were introduced

this year, including the Heroes Among Us Award, established to recognize outstanding community service and exceptional San Fernando Valley business leaders Bert and Jane Boechmann were among the 250 guests at the gala hosted by the region’s largest chamber of commerce.

character. Master of Ceremonies Chris Schauble greets guests dining at CBS Studios’ famed New York backlot.

The first-ever recipient was Ross Bradder,

president of Los Angeles Community Builders Inc., a faith-based nonprofit agency that provides outreach to at-risk children and also provides emergency shelter and housing assistance. The community-based organization has a partnership with The Church On The Way, where Bradder is pastor.

NetOps Corp., based in Sherman Oaks,

was recognized for excellence in technology; vice award. Flip’s Tire Center, whose owner, Enjoying the evening’s festivities were, from left, Jeff Hernandez, Moira Moe, Chris Schauble and Mauricio Aranda.

56 spaces may/june 2009

Linda and John Silver celebrate the success of the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Phillip “Flip” Smith, passed away last year, was honored as Family Business of the Year. —Barbara Jones

Photos: John McCoy

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