JF Chen is a family business. How long have you worked with your father, and how has the business changed since you took on your role in the company?
This is my 15th year working for my father now. I pretty much started working at his small showroom on Melrose Avenue, answering the telephones and helping designers with memos, and taking polaroids for them (before I knew what a tear sheet was!). The business is so different now. I don’t see people and clients as often as I would like because the Internet has basically taken over the world. I don’t shop online too often, as it takes away from the experience of seeing things in person—being able to touch things and to see things with your own eyes is so much more rewarding to me.
What do you love about working for JF Chen?
I love the education. I am learning something every single day, and each day is different. I meet new people, see different projects. I see new pieces that may have been in the showroom for years, but were possibly moved to a different spot.
What are your favorite pieces for sale right now?
A pair of Dan Johnson “Gazelle” Model 50B chairs from 1955, in patinated bronze. The ones we have are quite rare. I love bronze and the natural ways in which the material oxidizes and patinas. These chairs are just stunning.
Are there any trends that you’ve been noticing?
I would say a trend I see happening quite a bit is being able to design your home online, and also buying the pieces online at the same time. It bothers me, but I do understand it is the way of the world right now.
You’re surrounded by beauty in the JF Chen showroom—where else do you get your inspiration?
I get a ton of inspiration from traveling. Japan is my absolute favorite destination. Everything is just so meticulously made, practical, and well-designed. The culture is fascinating, the people are respectful, and they love design—and it shows in what they do. Everywhere you go, there is something special you will notice and gather inspiration from, even the landscapes and flowers, and especially, their packaging.
What’s your favorite décor period and why?
I can’t pinpoint one specific period, but I guess if I really had to, I do love the mid-century modern pieces of the 1950s. There is a reason mid-century modern is still going strong, and I think it’s because the style and design are timeless. The furniture works with pretty much all aesthetics.
Does your personal style differ from the overall JF Chen aesthetic? How has it evolved?
My style went from disliking traditional antiques to now loving it. My father used to sell traditional and Asian furniture and accessories, and that is what I grew up seeing, going to the showroom after school every day. I always thought the business was boring then, so traditional was considered boring to me as well. Now, being surrounded by the vast amount of pieces from every single time period, and seeing the mix of everything together, I just LOVE IT ALL. And, now, I have much more appreciation for traditional works and the history and craftsmanship that come with them.
Where/what city is your favorite place to source antiques?
Los Angeles is still the best, hands down. I was born and raised here, and I have always been able to find what I want.
los angeles, ca