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Visiting Scholar

Steven Learner, founder of the Collective Design fair, finds inspiration in the studios of California’s leading artists.

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Steven Learner’s Collective Design fair meshes the East and West coasts together.

“I feel like I ate my veggies in NYC, so I can just have dessert in L.A.,” says Manhattan-based architect Steven Learner, who founded New York’s Collective Design fair in 2012. He spent a week in L.A. this February visiting artists and designers (including Tanya Aguiñiga, Dougall Paulson and Kelly Wearstler) to gain deeper insight into some of the talent whose work will be featured at this year’s show. “The light, the space and climate of Southern California allow for a culture of freedom that is still reflected in the work today,” says Learner of the differences between East Coast and West Coast design. Along with studio visits, Learner rounded out his stay with trips to the Ovitz Family Collection, Gallery All, Blum & Poe and The Broad museum. “Unlike other fairs, Collective Design’s point of view comes from within the design community. Our selection of material and galleries is beautifully curated and includes material from the start of the 20th century to today,” he adds. “Every year the fair has its own sense of discovery; it’s always new.” Here are a few of Learner’s favorite pieces by some of California’s most exciting designers. May 13-17, Skylight Clarkson Square, 550 Washington St., New York, 212.741.8583