Nina Garduno recently opened her shop Free City—a mix between an actual store and a design commune–on Highland Avenue in Hollywood. She started the company in 2002, inspired by her "hippie childhood" and creative communities like Christiania in Copenhagen: "places where people collect to experiment with different ways to live out their life." Unconventionally designed and riotously colorful, Free City is stocked with products, furniture, and clothing made exclusively by Los Angeles-based artisans—and occasional outsider collaborators like the Mission Bicycle Company in San Francisco. Almost everything in the shop, from the silkscreened t-shirts to the handcrafted wooden furniture, is made just five blocks away, by the dozen or so employees in Free City's workshop, none of whom are trained designers. "No one went to school to learn these things," says Garduno. "Whatever it is, we figure out how to make it ourselves."
November 1, 2010