Arcana: Books on the Arts

For the avid art explorer no visit to Los Angeles is complete without a few hours page-turning in arguably one of the world’s finest bookstores. Arcana: Books on the Arts has been the go-to purveyors for specialist, out of print and collectible publications on twentieth-century visual art, architecture, design, photography, film and fashion since 1984.
In 2012, Arcana founder Lee Kaplan relocated from Santa Monica to Culver City’s landmark Art Deco complex at Helms Bakery - a former bread bakery from the 1930s, now transformed into LA’s interior design district.

There is no hint of the Deco on entering the 5000 sq ft space. Bright, white lines welcome visitors into this extensive emporium of over 100,000 items collected by Kaplan himself. A kaleidoscope of covers and spines colour the minimal, monochrome space from floor to ceiling on banks of custom metal shelving. Curated by theme and alphabetised, lowfi subject dividers on upcycled cardboard slot between catalogue raisonnés and monographs of international artists and designers as well as statement tomes on iconic aesthetics, architecture or actors. Elusive publications are designated cabinet space akin to artworks in miniature white cube displays.
If book shops are for bookworms, Arcana is for butterflies. The atmosphere is elegant and serene yet electric with every book unleashed from its plastic sleeve, revealing high-quality imagery produced by the world's leading publishing houses. From little and large to minimal and extravagant, Arcana’s vast range of visual page candy is unparalleled to the bookshelves of even the grandest of museum gift shops and is a testament to its strong client base from the creative worlds of entertainment, design and fashion who visit the shop for inspiration, guided by Kaplan’s comprehensive expertise on the old, the new and the beautiful.
Arcana: Books on the Arts is open Tuesday-Sunday 11am – 7pm
The Historic Helms Bakery

8675 Washington Boulevard

Culver City, Los Angeles CA 

Look out for more for future posts reporting on my visit to LA earlier this year where I explored the alternative art and design scenes across the city here on the blog, my Twitter and Instagram


10 Ideas

Ding-dong December is here and my Christmas gift guide drops for another year with ten ideas that will guarantee culture points under the tree this Holiday season. Inspired from the worlds of art and design that have caught my eye on my travels or have been featured here on the blog and on my Twitter throughout the course of the year, follow my curated countdown of discerning gifts for the naughty and nice…

1. Butt of the joke
Paris was the setting (and crime scene) for Paul McCarthy’s provocative public art work, Tree, erected in conjunction with his Chocolate Factory exhibition at La Monnaie de Paris this year. A souvenir of the work is being produced by the artist and French chocolatier Mademoiselle Chocolat during the exhibition.
2. Tribal Instinct
Discover society’s unconscious universality in photographer and flâneur extraordinaire, Hans Eijkelboom’s anti-sartorial publication People of the Twenty-First Century published by Phaidon

3. Desk sculpture
Haute-stationery from Japanese papermaker ITO Bindery for the aspiring curator – the recycled Memo Block is available at Please Do Not Enter

4. Adult Entertainment
Forgo the wood fire and turn up the heat over Robert Lazzarini’s distorted Puzzle series featuring images from 1970s porn - the limited edition of 50 jigsaw puzzles per design are produced by Brooklyn-based creative platform Grey Area

5. Child’s Play
Matt Austin Studio transforms our long-lost ephemera in the bottom of the junk drawer into a witty 8-piece collection of Chalk Ware for use or decoration - from Marc Jacobs Bookmarc

6. Stick your neck out
Be anything but square with this UNIQLO SPRZ NY X Keith Haring art bandana – available at UNIQLO stores worldwide

7. Light on your feet
ICNY defy the no-socks-for-Christmas code with these ‘Original Dot’ 3M reflective performance pair ideal for the urban athlete – available at ICNY Sport

8. Design Digit
For those who couldn’t give a festive f**k this holiday season, Maurizio Cattelan’s L.O.V.E Snow Globe is on (finger) point – available at MoMA Store

9. Model breakfast
Mark 2015’s highly anticipated return of designer John Galliano at the helm of cult fashion house Maison Martin Margiela with these alternative Fortune Eggs for a prosperous and stylish new year – by Maison Martin Margiela
10. Tea-total
Give the gift of wellness with this irresistible blend of loose leaf maté, green tea and lemongrass from the Detox collection at tea emporium Kusmi Tea

Images courtesy of Paul McCarthy, Phaidon, Please Do Not Enter, Grey Area, Marc Jacobs Bookmarc, UNIQLO, ICNY Sport, MoMA Store, Maison Martin Margiela and Kusmi Tea