Mary Ta came to West Hollywood with the dream of introducing Los Angeles to Italian design through her groundbreaking furniture showroom, Minotti. Since then, she has opened a second showroom, Mass Beverly, and become an indelible fixture of the community—serving as a connector, cultivator and ambassador for the city she calls “the future.”
Mary shared with us what she loves most about West Hollywood, where she finds inspiration, and much more.
What is the first word that you would use to describe West Hollywood? What first comes to mind?
Mary Ta: West Hollywood is joy. I think West Hollywood is the first person you’d want to meet at a party because she’s going to introduce you to everyone that you’re going to want to know. And you’re going to have the best time when you’re with her.
How did you wind up in West Hollywood?
MT: When choosing where to launch Minotti, we had to decide between New York or Los Angeles. We chose L.A. because L.A. is about youth and creative expression. And the city of West Hollywood is really the center of [Los Angeles], I believe. This is where it intersects—design, fashion, food, music, politics, partying.
Minotti was one of the first design stores here. How has the area grown over the years in terms of design?
MT: When I first opened the [Minotti] showroom on Beverly Boulevard, there were actually no modern furniture showrooms. There were mainly bathroom and bathroom fixture [showrooms]. So we were the first furniture store on this side of the street, and it was considered very far. In the beginning, the thought was, “okay, we’ll open this little store.” And then I thought about it and I said, “How are we actually going to have an impact in this community? We have to create an identity.” From being no one in the Design District to opening a 6,500-square-foot showroom, it really kind of made a statement—we’re here and we want to educate people on Italian quality, modern design.
[At Minotti], I welcome a love of international people to the city of West Hollywood. I recommend where they should stay, where they should eat, where they should shop, where they should cut their hair. And the first thing I say to them is, ‘West Hollywood is the future.’Mary Ta
Talk about the international evolution of West Hollywood and the Design District.
MT: Originally, the Design District started out very local. There were American designers, American products. The minority were actually European designers, and it was very high-brow, exclusive. There wasn’t a sense of the public being exposed to European high-end design. And so our decision was to open on the street or in the Pacific Design Center. We chose to be on the street because we wanted to be with the people, and we wanted the city to become more international—because that’s what West Hollywood is about. It’s full of Europeans, Asians and Africans, every race and gender. This is where it all starts. So I guess we wanted to add the element of the world here through design.
How would you describe the creative culture in West Hollywood as a curator and artist yourself?
MT: In West Hollywood, because there are no rules, we have a lot of freedom. And I think that a lot of things actually mix here. Technology is a big aspect of West Hollywood. [A lot of] apps come out here. Everyone is into design, fashion; the Pacific Design Center is here. There’re a lot of Case Study modern homes here, like the Schindler House (MAK Center for Art and Architecture). A lot of brands actually launch here because they feel that people understand.
Can you talk about the beauty that you feel in West Hollywood? Obviously we know about the city streets and the design, but what do you find beautiful about it?
MT: Well, first of all, we are in West Hollywood, so we just have sunshine all the time. And I think that itself is our most powerful nature. The city also really believes in biophilia, so there are trees everywhere. We’re not an urban jungle. We’re actually quite a good balance between a city, a community and a neighborhood. And I think that sense of neighborhood—living with trees, living with businesses, living with people—so it’s a real city in the futuristic sense, where we balance the people, we balance the businesses, we balance the fun.
What most inspires you about West Hollywood?
MT: I would say the thing that inspires me the most is the people and the constant, constant change. I’ve had a business here since 2004 and [I’ve been] walking around, meeting people since 2002. Sometimes I feel like I’ve met everybody, I’ve done everything. But it’s not true. I meet someone new every day. They’re opening a new business, a new restaurant, a new concept, they have a new opinion, and that constant change, that constant learning is so inspiring and fun. It’s just fun. I would say that’s the word.