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Entries in history (16)


redefined: the credenza

photo by: roberto_venturiniSimilar to credence, or belief in Italian, in the Middle Ages credenza was the act of tasting or testing foods and wines so they could be served to a master—with assurance from a credible servant that they were safe to eat.

Later the term referred to the room for this tasting—probably between the kitchen and the dining room—and still later, to the furniture the food was placed on.

Originally waist-high for convenience, with storage cabinets to keep serving utensils and table linens, and often topped with a sheet of marble or a linen runner. Later, fine china and small treasures were protected behind glass doors of taller styles—going up as rooms were made smaller and less communal.

Since furniture has been commercially marketed, they’ve been included in dining room sets so all the pieces match—table, chairs and storage. Now synonymous with a buffet—where all food plates sit cafeteria-style on top of a sideboard, or credenza—this casual style of self-serving a large party versus formal table service for each guest, suits relaxed gatherings in modern, open-plan homes.

So just as formality has relaxed—an engraved invitation can be a simple evite or tweet—credenzas can be used for dining, media or office storage, and mixed with various woods or lacquer finishes.


redefined: telephone poles

photo by: Orin ZebestAs America opened up to the wild west, and later to suburban sprawl, telephones replaced the telegraph and telephone poles laced a vast new interstate highway system and kept us hard-wired for communication.

Today, satellites orbit the earth providing wireless technology—transmitting voice, data, video—and which leaves iconic telephone poles soon to be a thing of the past.

Not only does the telephone coat rack remind us of breezy family road trips with the car windows wide open, roadside picnics and scenic routes, it brings natural wood and concrete elements indoors as a whimsical storage solution.


redefined: the abacus

photo by: tsc_traveler The abacus is typically Asian but references from ancient Rome, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Persia, India, Russia, Korea—even Native Americans—exist.

Trade between the two regions may explain the similarity of the Roman and Chinese versions— or it may be pure coincidence that both derived from counting the five fingers on one’s hand— but trade with India and the Middle East in the 1st century A.D. changed everything when the concept of a zero and a decimal point spread.

Replaced by modern calculators performing complex equations, the abacus not only remains a graphic icon—it continues to be manufactured and used to teach numerical systems and basic math.


redefined: the vanity

photo by: LindaHUsed for hundreds of years, dressing tables as a piece of furniture declined in popularity as rooms for toilets and bathing moved inside the house and included cabinets for perfumes and make-up and wardrobes or closets for small accessories; and vanities—which included a large ceramic pitcher and bowl for washing up—became today’s faucet and sink.

Although dressing tables or vanities remained popular in modern homes—until as recently as the 50s and 60s—as time has become a most precious resource, and women spend more time out of the house, more often than not we’re multi-tasking and rushing to get ready. But good storage for our little luxuries will always be necessary, hence, the modern vanity.


our neighborhoods: weho

Before CB2, the previous tenant of 8000 w. Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood was a popular Virgin Megastore—but its most famous was the legendary Schwab’s Pharmacy a few doors down at 8024.

photo courtesy of the_toe_stubberIn the movie “Sunset Boulevard”, William Holden’s character refers to Schwab’s as “headquarters—a combination office, coffee klatch, and waiting room” for Hollywood. 

For over fifty years, from 1932 until 1983, Hollywood’s most famous stopped by once or twice, during low and high times: Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Shelley Winters, Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan, Sylvester Stallone, Goldie Hawn, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton…

Schwab’s was the hangout for anyone in the business. Legends—and rumors about them—got started here. Lana Turner was discovered at the counter. F. Scott Fitzgerald had a heart attack buying a pack of cigarettes. Songwriter Harold Arlin wrote “Over the Rainbow” by the light of the neon sign. Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd played pinball in the back room.

photo courtesy of onefish2Farther west on the boulevard, at the southwest corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights, was the The Garden of Allah.

In 1928, silent screen star Alla Nazimova developed the land surrounding her mansion into the legendary private bungalows.

Silver screen stars who visited regularly included Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, W.C. Fields, Humphrey Bogart, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Marx Brothers, and Orson Welles.

It’s rumored that Tallulah Bankhead swam naked in the swimming pool and Marilyn Monroe was discovered sipping a Coke beside the same pool. Alas, as Joni Mitchell sang, they “paved paradise, put up a parking lot” when it was demolished in 1959 and replaced with a strip mall.

Who knows, maybe someday you’ll hear someone say they saw _____ at Crunch Gym, Trader Joe’s or CB2!

Thanks to todd, store designer west hollywood, for this contribution—and for the concept of the series.