For the past few years my friend Bradley Clifford has been raving about Los Angeles-based interior designer Tobi Tobin and her flagship store on Sunset Blvd. Last month while in LA for a book signing and Legends of La Cienega we made a visit to the very cool and carefully curated shop. The vintage couture jewelry, furniture, fine linens, rare books, custom candles and hand-made chocolates (produced locally) reflect perfectly Tobi’s passion for design and luxury. The store was everything Brad said it to be and more. The candles and chocolates alone were to die for. An authentic Parisian confectionery display cabinet housed the yummy dark beauties; truffle fudge topped with French grey sea salt was my favorite.
The Michigan born designer, whose work has graced the cover of Architectural Digest, is all about neutrals with black accents (witness her Hollywood Hills farmhouse featured in the May 2013 issue of House Beautiful). As she told the Los Angeles Times, “The one thing I’m not about is color. If it isn’t black, white or the color of wood, metal or stone I’m not interested. I never work with primary colors.” There is a side of me that very much appreciates and understands that way of thinking. In part, Tobi’s design philosophy stems from her belief that living in a “loud environment” can drown out the creative soul. Perhaps it’s among the many reasons she has earned a loyal celebrity clientele including Keanu Reeves, Reese Witherspoon, Kevin Costner, Dane Cook, Renee Zellweger and Chelsea Handler.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m all over the page. Casual chic / black tie / resort / really depends on the city I am in at the time. Basically I could be ready at the drop of a hat to go to the Red Cross Ball in Palm Beach, a Barn dance in Bucks County or quick trip to Tulum Mexico. Most of the time it’s jeans and tees.
What is your most prized possession?
For sure that would be Theo my Swiss Mountain Dog. But is he a possession? Anyway. For sure he is my most prized.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Earthly Happiness is being loved, loving others, respecting all the gifts we have been given from Mother Nature and living everyday to the fullest. I also love the ocean so I would have to say, any ocean I can swim in would be high on the list of “Earthly” things for me as well.
What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
What inspires your creativity and designs?
When I begin to design a new collection of furniture, clothing, fragrance, candles, lighting or even chocolate, I look to fashion, architecture, food, travel, nature and films. I grab textures, silhouettes and inspiration from everything I see and everywhere I travel. For me that is my favorite part. I love to research design. I spend hours reading and researching. I push myself to tell new stores with each collection. I am kind of a nerd. But a chic nerd.
Who are your style icons?
Grace Kelly, Jackie O, Babe Paley, CZ Guest, Slim Keith, Diana Vreeland, Grace Coddington, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Oscar de Renta.
Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Great design is teamwork. It is always collaboration….the designer, architect, builder, developer, tradesmen and the client. We all work together to create the story we want to tell. We all need each other and depend on one another for the final out come. I see my successes and my career as collaboration.
Bad collaboration. Bad design. Good collaboration. Good design!
What books are currently on your bedside table?
David Sedaris “Let’s explore Diabetes with Owls”, Joan Crawford ”The portrait of Joan Crawford, and “Stillness Speaks” by Eckhart Tolle.
What is your favorite luxury in life?
My friends, family, health and my dog.
Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
For me it was a person but the ‘Dream’. I have always dreamed big dreams for my life and I have spent all my days trying to achieve those dreams. All of the choice’s I have made along the way have been stepping stones to reach the next destination. There is not one job, one place, or one person who will fill all of your desires; it is the many you will meet and love along the way. There are so many places you will travel and so many jobs you will take to get you to the next place; they all matter. They are all a part of the greater plan for your life.
PROFILE BY RONDA CARMAN