Girard Avenue has seen a lot of changes in the last couple of years. With the introduction of several high-end furniture and interior design stores, local retailers have started to push La Jolla - and Girard, in particular - as San Diego's mecca for contemporary interior design.
This development will reach a milestone Saturday, Sept. 18, when several of Girard Avenue's most prestigious design stores will launch What's Up Girard as a showcase of La Jolla's growing design collective.
The day includes a walking tour of Girard Avenue and several invitation-only receptions at the stores. At the end of the evening, a raffle will be held at Gallery Eight to benefit Habitat for Humanity, an international organization that builds affordable homes for families in need.
The event has been a year in the making. Chad Patton runs Material Things, an importer and distributor of innovative Japanese textiles based within Divan Studio, a contemporary furniture showroom. Patton was instrumental in getting the event started.
Patton cited the introduction of Ligne Roset and My Own Space as major contributors to this changing scene, and also explained that other furniture stores such as Roche Bobois and Divan have re-developed their showrooms.
"Basically, within the last year," said Patton, "Girard has really become the place for contemporary home furnishings in San Diego."
Patton rounded up the other store owners to discuss an event that would best showcase what they had to offer. The group settled on a walking tour combined with a raffle that would benefit a worthy cause. The store and gallery owners have organized a marketing campaign they hope will bring designers and fine furniture aficionados from all over the surrounding area.
"People are really looking forward to it," said Patton. "It should be fun. It's meant primarily to be a time where people can get together, see what's here. There will be entertainment, there will be wine tasting at night. ... People will be able to come in and see what San Diego has to offer in the way of contemporary furnishings."
While the private functions will be invitation-only, the walking tour is open to all and should be a good opportunity for La Jollans to check out new and forthcoming trends in contemporary furniture. Each of the stores plans to showcase their most fashionable items and will be using the event as a chance to unveil some new designs.
"Hopefully, if we have a newer product in," said Jack Burrows, manager of Ligne Roset, "we will be debuting a few new pieces to our collection."
Other stores are planning wine tastings and entertainment, including live music. After the private events, all will gather at Gallery Eight for the raffle. Each of the stores involved with What's Up Girard has donated a designer chair to the raffle. Habitat for Humanity was identified as a particularly apt charity to benefit from the event.
"It's one thing to give someone a home, so to speak," said Jack Burrows of Ligne Roset, "but, it's another to give them a house, to have it complete when they move in."
The raffle tickets have been on sale for some time for a suggested donation of $5 per ticket. The group has no idea how much they will raise.
"We should come up with an amount of money that's not embarrassing, though," said Patton.
In addition to raising money for charity and increasing awareness of Girard as a destination for furniture hunters, the organizers hope to bring more people into La Jolla. However, they are pragmatic about their hopes for the first year.
"You know, if it does very little, that's fine," said Burrows, "because we've benefited a great organization. But, I think it's also going to raise awareness of this block and the stores that are on this block now, and it's hopefully going to attract people from all over San Diego for the event, to really come in and explore how Girard is shaping up."