The first thing I notice at is the giant white space-age ball chair with its crimson red upholstery. It's sitting behind the modern furniture store's giant glass window beside a modern Hollywood Regency-style bedroom set, beckoning pedestrians to come inside.
When I walk into the store's grand opening party on Saturday, the next thing I see is a young blonde woman picking up empty plastic cups from a glass-and-chrome Bauhaus-style coffee table, and for a moment, I'm not quite sure how to react.
"Is she...not wearing a shirt?", I half-ask my husband. He seems to be having the same confused reaction at the woman wearing a "top" of black and red body paint.
The scene at NoHo I.D.'s party is not one we expected – there's a deejay spinning dance music outside, and there's free Hawaiian and cream liqueur mixed drinks in the back of the store. My husband makes a beeline for the complimentary alcohol, where the male bartender is also topless-yet-not, and I check out the works of North Hollywood-based artist Jesse Raudales on display. His paintings of President Barack Obama, Jimi Hendrix and other famous figures are part of the event's silent auction benefiting Hands 4 Hope, a North Hollywood-based non-profit organization that provides free after-school programs to the community.
I make my way through the party and walk through a dining- and living-room setup, where a dozen or so partygoers are sitting and eating food while watching the Lakers basketball game. The situation is not by any means unusual, but yet walking through the living room display, I can't help but feel as if I've just interrupted a strange movie scene in which the characters are much aware of their viewers.
Ray Newton, NoHo I.D.'s owner, is standing a few feet away. As a mid-century modern enthusiast, I tell him how much I appreciate the arc lamps, tufted leather sectionals and retro chairs on display at the store.
"I dream in color," the Detroit native tells me as he stands in his new store amidst the vibrant paintings on the wall and steps away from a bright teal-colored 'O'-shaped leather couch. He's always been a lover of furniture, he says.
Newton's not a newbie to the furniture and interior design business. He had owned and ran Omni Designs Furniture, which included locations in the NoHo Arts District, Burbank and Beverly Hills. Like many other businesses that had thrived before the housing market crashed in 2008, Newton said he decided to close his stores when the economy went sour.
But just a few years later, new businesses began opening and flourishing in the Arts District, he says, citing the , among others. That's when he knew it was time to make a comeback, Newton says.
Although there are several traditional furniture stores along Lankershim Boulevard, Newton says he wants to offer functional, contemporary pieces that can also be seen as "a piece of art." His store will cater to the Arts District's creative community, he tells me.
Many of his furniture can also be seen in films, T.V. shows and music videos, and he tells me a truckload of pieces were just picked up by the crew of the motorcycle club television drama Sons of Anarchy ().
He shows me the store's north wall reserved for the work of local artists. Hanging on the wall is a large and sinister painting of a cloaked woman on a red couch that brings to mind influences of H.R. Geiger and Mark Ryden, several colorful abstract paintings and a metalworks piece of a female figure with her arms stretched out. Newton tells me in the future, the store will also host art gallery events. It's his way of supporting the local art community, he says.
NoHo I.D. Modern Furnishings is located at 4870 Lankershim Boulevard in the Arts District.