Obsolete: A Cabinet of Well-curated Curiosities



Ain’t nuthin’ “obsolete” about the hip, hot new home design gallery Obsolete which opened last night on Portrero Hill with a Commotion of cocktail party.

It was as if the swallows had returned, en masse, to Capistrano as super swell shoppers and design-istas descended upon this soiree hosted by Vanessa Getty and Obsolete owner Ray Azoulay.

Among the swans snacking upon Wolfgang Puck-designed delicacies? Jamie Tisch; designers and dealers such as Douglas Durkin, Blaine Halvorson, Windsor Smith, Will Wick, Laurie Ghielmetti, and Lewis Sykes; SF Fall Antiques Show chairwoman Michele Goss; and Austin Hills.

Azoulay’s main domain is Venice Beach where he first opened his oh-so-cool cabinet of curiosities. But he’s already well-known and greatly admired in The City as a regular (and our personal favorite) exhibitor at the SF Fall Antiques Show.

Now his shingle also hangs here, where he shares space with longtime and loved local dealers Therien & Co. Azoulay’s SF atelier showcases his exotic and eclectic Obsolete objets mixed with a line of contemporary, original designs from the collection of Blackman Cruz.

Even if one is not familiar with Obsolete’s signature stylings such as 17th-century Santos figures, taxidermied Victoriana animals or Industrial Age furnishings, this den of delights inspires a déjà vu, dream-like vision akin to a bite of Proust’s madeleine.

“The feel is very different from my Venice store. But I really like the model here where we have the ability for all different kinds of pieces to coexist together,” said Azoulay. “I love playing with pieces that have hundreds of years between them. It’s like being a little kid on a playground!”

Obsolete owner Ray Azoulay with his co-hosts Vanessa and Billy Getty

Dressed in a dashing kilt-like concoction, Azoulay (a former design director at Liz Claiborne), is a man of great personal style as well. He prefers to think of himself as “a curator” and likens his galleries to “curatorial laboratories.”

Kristin Smith, an L.A. designer, flew up for the party with pals, Mark Cornelsen and actor T.R. Knight.

“Ray is a genius. He can artistically display a pencil and make you think, ‘Oh, my God -- I must buy that pencil’,” enthused Smith, laughing. “But truly, Ray has a great gift.”

Check out photos below.

Actor T.R. Knight, designer Kristin Smith and Mark Cornelsen

Maryann and Jack Opperman

Hedge Gallery co-owner Roth Martin and Stanlee Gatti

Beth Townsend and Mark Wagoner

Designer Vaughan Woodson, Mark Armour and Eoin Harrington

Dr. Seth Matarasso

Susan Dunleavy, Suzanne Levit and Angelique Griepp

Shannon Bavaro and Shannon Hill

Jamie Bowles and Dinah Brooks

Jenna and Bryan Hunt

Hilary Armstrong and designer Gabrielle Sarlo

Shannon Bavaro, Damion Matthews and Joel Goodrich

Related Articles