Home Again

All in the Family

By David Perloff
Photo by Brevin Blach

In the bustling home kitchen of a celebrity chef, his photographer wife and their adorable children (three-year-old Taylor and 18-month-old twins Miles and Sailor), who does the dishes?

“Whoever has a free arm,” says Brian Malarkey, holding one son as he helps the other squeeze lemons from the family’s backyard tree. “If you have Miles, you definitely don’t do dishes, ‘cause he does not let you put him down. Watch.”

Malarkey bends over to put Miles down. In the instant his feet touch the floor, the toddler scrunches his face, turns red and begins to cry. “Neat trick, right?” Malarkey smiles, scooping Miles back into his arms.

A Bravo Top Chef finalist, Malarkey led the kitchen at Downtown’s Oceanaire before teaming up with partner James Brennan to open the wildly successful Searsucker in the Gaslamp. Within a year, on Opening Day at the races, the duo opened Burlap in Del Mar. They launched Gingham in La Mesa a few weeks ago; in April, they’re slated to unveil Gabardine in La Jolla.

But how about home-cooked meals?

“Breakfast is a big deal in this house-it’s early and it’s fast,” says Malarkey. “Dinner is very rare around here, ‘cause dinner is at the restaurants, but we always do a big breakfast.”

Doting over their darling daughter and sons (sporting gingham shirts, of course), the couple seems proud of their new kitchen, which they designed together.

“The whole remodel kinda revolved around making sure that we could fit a dishwasher in here,” Chantelle says with a laugh, simultaneously distributing glasses of lemonade and making sure Hunter doesn’t spill his.

1. “Before the babies were born, my wife and I went to Italy. We packed all these clay, hand-painted dishes in our luggage, and somehow they survived. What’s silly is we got home and realized you could buy them here a lot easier than traveling all over Italy with them. We should’ve smuggled some prosciutto or truffles.” [laughs]

2. “This Breville espresso machine was given to me by my staff at Searsucker to celebrate my birthday. I thought I had plenty of energy, but I guess they tell me that I need a little bit more spark in my day.”

3. “We have a great little dwarf lemon tree out back-they look like lemons, but they taste like a tangerine-lime-lemon hybrid. Hunter and I like to make our own lemonade; he likes to add a little extra sugar to sweeten it up nice.”

4. “This is a Shun knife; I get those from Great News! in Pacific Beach. It’s a really thin, kind of a softer metal. You’d think a soft metal would be bad, but it’s actually really good-that way you can keep it sharp with a stone. Absolutely amazing. This knife is almost a representation of Burlap: it’s
kind of an Asian knife made by white boys.” [laughs]

5. “This is a Boos bamboo cutting board I’ve had with me for longer than I’ve had my wife-a very, very long time. My father has a nice cutting board at his house, my mom has a great cutting board, and that’s always kind of been the center of our kitchens. I look forward to passing this on to my children someday.”

6. “I got my wife a brand new juicer for Valentine’s Day. Her brother loves Bloody Marys, so we’re determined to make the greatest Bloody Mary mix ever. She loves her carrot, ginger, apple and beet juice, so we’re going to be making that one... and then, of course, keep having Hunter squeeze the lemons.”

7. “What’s really fun with these big large bottles of wine is that they’ve been given to me for different events. This one was signed by the entire staff at the restaurant Oceanaire, in Houston, after I was on Top Chef. The Fritz was given to me by a Fritz family after a wine dinner where I represented their wine. The Groth was given to me by my old mentor and dear friend Michael Mitchell.”

8. “Here is another one of the flowerpots we smuggled from Italy. My wife loves ivy and just can’t keep it alive, so every two weeks we get a new ivy plant in the kitchen.”

9. “Dacor was kind enough to give us some of their equipment to try out. We’ve had a great time using it-the refrigeration, microwave, oven and the dishwasher hidden back here.”

10. “Blue cups, straight from Searsucker to our house. These are actually going to be the same glassware used at Gingham and at Gabardine. The only restaurant that we have that doesn’t have the blue cups is Burlap.”

Hot Seats: Don’t just do something, sit there

Using mud, wood and wool, San Diego artist Jennifer Anderson breaks furniture-making tradition, constructing pieces with unique forms and textures that require beholders to examine more closely.

“I try to make people pay attention to the objects they’re using,” Anderson says.

With her work now being displayed internationally, it’s safe to say people are indeed paying attention.

When she isn’t playing with mud or daydreaming about making a chair out of porcupine quills, Anderson teaches art and furniture design classes at local colleges and partakes in craftsman societies.

It’s all part of her quest to make people reconsider where they’re putting down their glasses, what they’re lighting their rooms with and, of course, what they’re sitting on.

From her College Area studio, Anderson describes a few of her favorite pieces.

-Patricia B. Dwyer

1. Drove (two of five)
Walnut, polyethylene, industrial felt
“They remind me of a herd of sheep or something like that. When you see them all together, they sort of have an interesting personality about them.”

2. Eames Study #1
Mud and steel
“Someone has written that the mud chairs are like something you would discover at an archeological dig.”

3. Pattern Study #1
Beech and milk paint
“I was looking at pleating from fabrics-a Zach Posen runway in 2009. I took the pleats and started drawing those out. It also looks a lot like mushroom gills.”

Finnish Line

After World War II, Finland was forced to pay reparations to the Soviet Union. Rather than let fiscal hardship cripple their culture in addition to their economy, Finnish craftsman derived inspiration from the struggle, creating what would become the country’s modern aesthetic.

On display at the Mingei through April 22, a traveling exhibition organized by Designmuseo (the design museum in Helsinki, Finland) characterizes this economical use of materials and the close attention paid to the innate qualities of each material used.

The intersection of form and function excites the Mingei’s Christine Knoke, local curator for Northern Stars: Twentieth Century Finnish Design. “I’m not supposed to sit in things,” she says, “although I’ve been tempted.”

-Patricia B. Dwyer

Mikko Paakanen, 2002
Plywood, epoxy, metal, upholstery
“It’s meant to look as if you’re looking at the frozen crust of snow on this untouched, beautiful snow bank.”
-Christine Knoke

Pastill Chair
Eero Aarnio, 1968
“It’s kind of a fun, playful chair, and you really couldn’t make a form like that in anything but fiberglass or plastic.” -CK

Chair for Children
Artek, 1970s
“This is just an awesome chair. There’s an importance of function, but it’s also beautifully designed.” -CK

Sitting Pretty

Unseating tradition at the Mingei International Museum

With so many veterans going to school (including art school) on the G.I. Bill, American craftsmanship boomed after World War II, as artists began to embrace modernism and wonder what lay beyond it.

Through April 15, an exhibit at the Mingei museum in Balboa Park celebrates the works of local craftsmen who experimented with new materials-furniture, doors, jewelry-from the 1940s through the 1970s, flirting with the border between utilitarianism and art.

“The 1960s were when these people, who had been working within the craft boundaries, broke down those doors and started making things that were no longer functional,” says the exhibit’s curator, Dave Hampton.

Pull up a chair as Hampton describes other highlights of San Diego’s Crafts Revolution: From Post-War Modern to California Design.

-Patricia B. Dwyer

Prototype Chair
Douglas Deeds,1968
Fiberglass, reinforced polyester
“Pared down linear architecture, modern art trends-rejecting the traditions that had come before.” -Dave Hampton

Douglas Deeds, 1962
Brazed (soldered) steel beer cans
“It’s great if you have a great shape and great material and an interesting design,but it’s even better if you can sit on it.”

Mirror Chairs
Jack Rogers Hopkins, 1971
Birch, Honduras mahogany, Brazilian rosewood
“You wind up with pieces that are really pieces of art and not craft, functional things that people will use in their house,but are really art statements.” -DH

The Wrongest Yard

Local landscaper shows the woes of traditional lawns

By Catharine L. Kaufman
Photo by James Norton

The word “organic” makes storebought tomatoes expensive, but Ari Tenenbuam sees only savings.

Touting the more efficient use of one’s exterior surroundings, he launched Revolution Landscape, a La Jollabased company that installs organic mini-farms (in residential, public and commercial settings) that foster healthier eating while reducing excessive water use.

Tenenbaum practices sustainability, watering plants with drip irrigation systems, constructing trellises with recycled materials and using organic soil derived from compost.

While his firm focuses on providing unmatched customer service (harvesting clients’ crops on request and leaving the bounties on their doorsteps), Tenenbaum also dedicates time to educating the public, even those not in the market for his edible installations.

“I’m at the La Jolla Farmers Market every week,” he says. “I talk to people for hours about their gardens and I really think they walk away learning something.”

1. “These were bamboo scraps that were harvested. I’m not even sure where we end up with a lot of random stuff.”

2. “These metal lashings are actually from pallets we get rock deliveries on, super random, and we made these trellises that we had beans growing on last summer.”

3. “These are wine barrel planters, literally old wine barrels that can no longer be used for wine, and now we have blueberries growing in them.”

4. “There’s like six different types of lettuce here. I’m not even sure which is which. You can get these seed packs so you can get a nice array of different stuff.”

5. “Those are bunching onions, basically green onions, and that’s broccoli. Having two things in the same bed helps with susceptibility to pests.”

6. “These are nasturtiums, and we have a handful of other edible flowers. You can use them as a garnish-they do have a bite, but they are awesome to throw into a salad.”

7. “The soil was here. We just brought in organic compost and improved the existing soil.”

8. “This is my hat, and it’s awesome. I wear it everyday, and that’s why it looks so awesome.”

9. “Pruners and a trowel, these are all you need.”

10. “Radishes are actually really good cooked, once they get to the point that they are kind of bitter. You can eat the green, too.”


Homeowner tames unruly vines into wild animals

By Patricia B. Dwyer
Photo by Jeff “Turbo” Corrigan

Edna Harper made her husband a bet: that she could tame their hillside honeysuckle vines into topiaries without using internal supports. If she succeeded, Alexander would have to maintain the vegetal safari at their Mission Hills home.

“Dumb bet, real dumb,” says Alexander, grinning.

Edna derived inspiration for weaving and cutting the vines from her vacations, sculpting figures to commemorate trips to Egypt, Thailand and other exotic locales. But with 26 reviews on Yelp, her garden has become a travel destination itself.

“I went to a party and someone goes, ‘You’re the topiary lady!’” says Edna.

“They don’t know my name, but they know I’m the topiary lady.”

These days, Pedro, the gardener, maintains the property four or five days a week. More than 15 years since losing the bet, Alexander finally admits to needing a little help.

“That’s sixty-some-odd stairs, and we aren’t spring chickens anymore, let me tell you,” he says. “We don’t go down there unless we have to.”

See the home at 3549 Union St. (between Upas St. and Vine St.), Mission Hills.

1. “We put the little boy on top of the big elephants because he’ll be waving at people as they go by.”-Edna Harper

2. “The pyramids...I did go to Egypt, so I wanted to remember that. That was a nice trip.” -EH

3. “All the elephants are from Thailand. There’s one that even looks like Dumbo, because it’s short and it has real big ears and it’s so cute.” -EH

4. “Sometimes we leave a little flower, if we trim them so much they don’t bloom, and the hummingbirds love them.” -EH

Department of the interiors

Photo by Jeff “Turbo” Corrigan

Amelie Racicot can see the future.

“If you want to know what’s coming into style for interior design,” she says, “look to the fashion industry. Interior trends follow those of fashion by about six months.”

As the in-house visuals and merchandising director (aka “head honcho interior designer”) for Downtown’s BoConcept, Racicot (picture, bottom right) styles and accessorizes living rooms, bedrooms and other domestic spaces to make her store’s passers-by stop in-and to make stoppers-in fall in love with furniture and buy it.

So, what’s in store? “We’ve got some metallic and textured pieces coming in,” Racicot says.

“But for spring, it’s really about bright, fluorescent palettes. To keep things looking modern but not overwhelming, start with neutral colors-grays, whites, blacks-and from there, add in pops of lime greens and bright oranges.”

Sit back and relax as Racicot describes what went into designing this room with a hue.

1. “One of my favorite pieces in this design is the Imola low-back chair. It’s very exclusive, with a design based on a tennis ball. The stitching makes it appealing, and it’s upholstered in a very high-end leather, which makes it very inviting and comfortable.”

2. “The wall unit is multifunctional. When accessorizing it, we selected a variety of materials to keep it interesting. We chose glass pieces as well as wood sculptures to warm it up. The touches of white are threaded throughout the entire unit to keep your eyes moving, which creates a sense of harmony.”

3. “This sofa is going to give you a very high-end, progressive look, but it can be a very low price-point depending on the material. This is a great fabric, because it’s a neutral color, but the texture and the sheen kick it up and make it interesting.”

4. “If you don’t have room for a side table, this little side tray is a must-have. You can set your wine or your coffee there, and if you’re entertaining, guests will always have a spot for their drink.”

5. “The coffee table is going to look the best if you keep it at seat height of the sofa or a little bit lower. We’ve got a lot of detail in this room, so something low-profile, simple and clean is a great fit for this space.”

6. “Sometimes people feel modern design is kind of cold, so we want to warm it up by accessorizing with vases on the table and elements of nature.”

7. “A lamp is a great way to add some height in a room. Modern is always pretty low profile, you want it to be balanced on a vertical level, too.”

8. “The rug pulls in every color in the room, which anchors all the pieces. When you have a neutral palette, a great way to jazz it up is to add pattern.”

9. “This room is based on a progressive design. Image is everything to the people that live here. They enjoy urban living and want the latest and greatest in life.” -Amelie Racicot