garde – one of the nation’s most forward-thinking design providers – has opened a retail showroom near the Dallas Design District in a beautiful converted 6,000 square foot warehouse on Wycliff. Scotti Sitz, who founded Garde in Los Angeles in 2012, brought her chic stable of international designers to the new space in Dallas, complete with furniture, lighting, a table and jewelry. All set against a gloomy industrial backdrop of concrete floors and hand-plastered walls painted in a dark hue, punctuated by a 12-foot-long checkout counter clad in dark charcoal stone.
Dallas is Guard’s third location (a small outpost in Summerland near Santa Barbara opened in 2018). Dallas wasn’t on the radar initially, says Sitz, who co-owns Guard with her husband, John Davidson. “Dallas continued to come across as a big city, and it just started to make sense. There is energy, hospitality and openness to new ideas here. The design community is growing and we want to be part of it. Sitz relies on the store’s darker palette, clean styling and dynamic roster of designers from Europe and Latin America to set him apart. “We are introducing very different merchandising and design than what Dallas had before,” she says. “But we also embrace this wonderful culture in Dallas, and we’re hoping to put the two together for someone to come and say, ‘Oh my God, I want to live here’ – instead of ‘I’m looking for a sofa.’ You know?”
Most of Garde’s designers were not previously available in Dallas, including works from an avant-garde Belgians such as Vincent Van Duysen and Michael Verheyden, two famous designers whose minimalist tableware and serving items were presented to Garde since its creation. Among the rising stars is the Armenian-born interior designer Noro Khachatryan of Khachatryan Studio, who started his career in Brussels at the age of 17. He creates elegantly reduced furniture and objects that highlight the materials, such as a refined suite of geometric side tables in solid brass and marble. A limited edition solid brass chair has a low scale and proportions reminiscent of traditional Middle Eastern seating. Also look for items later this fall by Ben Storms, who designs and manufactures furniture and sculptures in his studio in Brussels. In her hands, a heavy marble table is polished so incredibly fine it seems weightless, and a swollen stainless steel wall sculpture takes the improbable shape of a soft cushion.
Garde also presents lighting by Italian Giopato & Coombes, which combines contemporary design with Venetian glass art and bronze and brass elements. And, from France, experimental designer Pauline Esparon developed her own techniques for reworking materials such as oil, wood, berries, leaves and roots into usable products, including perfumes, tables and rugs. Her exquisite fringed ottomans, poufs and sculptures are crafted using a weaving technique that showcases the raw, plush qualities of short staple flax fibers. Edward Collinson’s sophisticated kitchen island – on display at Garde – is handcrafted in his London studio. The piece includes a sink, faucet and induction unit so understated in design it’s easy to mistake it for a beautiful living room cabinet.
Sitz is also working to bring new designers from Latin American countries to Dallas, including installation artist and furniture maker Brian Thoreen. Based in Mexico City and Los Angeles, Thoreen pushes the boundaries of furniture design by using materials like rubber. Her spectacular 75-inch mixed marble, brass and steel coffee table features angles and a ladder that could easily be used as a sculpture.
A Originally from Angeleno, Scotti Sitz worked as a New York fashion executive at Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani before returning to LA, where she focused on interior design. Klein and Armani’s sleek, neutral minimalism strongly influenced his interior work, but it was the job of remaking a home in the Hollywood Hills for a French director and his wife that changed everything.
“The woman wanted me to only use furniture from European designers, but 10 years ago you couldn’t find anything like it in Los Angeles except vintage,” says Sitz. Even in New York, small European lines under the radar were almost nonexistent. “So we went to Europe and started exploring designers who were doing amazing work, and I was like, ‘Why aren’t these people
here ?’ A light bulb exploded, and Garde’s idea took shape. Sitz convinced emerging designers such as Faye Toogood in London and Vincent Van Duysen in Belgium to give him a piece to sell. “I started very small, mainly with accessories and gift items
and table tops and textiles. And then it snowballed. “
There is something a little old school and traditional about Dallas that brings me back in a beautiful way. I keep pinching myself and saying, “Why doesn’t everyone come here? “
Van Duysen introduced Sitz to a host of other Belgian designers, including Michael Verheyden, who all created furniture and accessories with gorgeous, austere luxury that reminded him of what Calvin Klein did in the 80s and Armani in the 90s. Garde’s first lighting collection was created by Apparatus Studio, long before the genius designers of Apparatus, Gabriel Hendifar and Jeremy Anderson, caused a sensation in New York and Milan with their experimental and beautifully designed lighting. Like Apparatus, many of Garde’s early designers have gone on to star, most notably Toogood and Van Duysen. Note that all of them still sell their works in Garde.
“A lot of the people we represent make functional art,” says Sitz. “I think it’s a good fit for Dallas, which has such a love for art and amazing museums.” It turns out that not only is the city a perfect fit for Garde, but it’s also great for Sitz and Davidson personally. Earlier this year, the couple invested in Los Angeles and moved into a skyscraper overlooking the Dallas Arts District. They bought a property in East Kessler Park, where they are building a house designed by the multidisciplinary company Tennen Studio based in Phoenix. “Dallas doesn’t have an ocean or a Pacific coast, but the neighborhoods here are beautiful,” Sitz says. “There’s something a little old school and traditional about Dallas that brings me back nicely. The people are nice; they like to shop and have lunch. And there’s an energy that reminds me of LA 10 years ago. I keep pinching myself and saying, “Why doesn’t everyone come here? And then I’m like ‘Oh shut up. They might be.'”
Garde will host designer Robert Stilin on Thursday, Sept. 23, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., with cocktails, a trade show conference and book signing, as part of Texas Design Week Dallas. TXDW is a paid event; for tickets and the full schedule, visit texasdesignweek.com.