Field Trip: The OC Mart Mix

  An intriguing feature in Sunset Magazine's February issue inspired me to take a field trip to The OC Mart Mix in Costa Mesa, California and find out what cool things existed in my own backyard. 
Unfortunately, the gardening shop which I had read about in the magazine and had been housed in an Airstream trailer outside the Mart (love this idea!) had already pulled up stakes and moved on.
Still, there was much to discover and plenty of inspiration to be found!  The industrial warehouse styling and collaborative approach makes me wonder if anti-malls like this are the way of the future. Retail incubators where the next big trends will be discovered. It's an atmosphere that seems to celebrate, thrive and actually depend on creativity. 
 My favorite open spaces at the Mix included the Portola Coffee Lab and the communal seating and dining areas. The exposed beams, pipes, natural wood and wonderful lighting make it feel like you're hanging out in a cool friend's artsy loft. 
Check out the variety of lighting dangling from a dropped ceiling at the coffee bar, it becomes a design element that is both decorative and functional.
The over sized paperclip used as a hanger caught my eye, and Jeff Clinard, the manager of Portola told me the tote bags  (and pillows and cushions) are made locally using the recycled burlap sacks from the shop's coffee beans. Cute and covetable!

The artisanal, Cheese Shop, made my heart stop for a number of reasons: Check out the creative way they display the day's menu, the big basket of fresh baguettes wrapped in brown paper, and the farm-fresh seating just outside the door!

 Across the hall, We Olive & Wine Bar, offers complimentary tastings of more than 20 local, artisanal olive oils. I'm thinking fresh cheese, bread, olive oil and wine...
I should have snapped a better photo, but don't miss the wine bottle chandelier hanging in the background! Just the thing for a stylish oenophiles' gourmet kitchen or great room.

Since I'm starting to run a little long, I'll be sharing a few of my favorite retail finds from the Mix in posts to come. Stay tuned...