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Doors open on secrets of interior design at What’s Up Girard

By Christine Clark

It’s home to top-notch restaurants, breathtaking ocean views, fine art galleries and a burgeoning design district. It also has some of the most exquisite interior design boutiques in Southern California, and they will be on display in the third annual What’s Up Girard event, taking place Saturday, Sept. 30.

In the two-block stretch of Girard between Pearl and Kline streets, there are eight design studios, and the community has become known as the La Jolla design district.

During previous What’s Up Girard events, the design district hosted an open house where residents were invited to check out the different styles of decor each boutique had to offer. This year, the venues are each hosting a seminar featuring an expert from the interior decorating field.

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“It is a day of celebration of design,” said Chad Patton of Material Things, one of the participating stores. “This is not about a sales pitch.”

The design seminars take place from 1 to 5 p.m., and starting at 6 p.m., each boutique will host an after-hours soiree with food, drinks and entertainment.

“The parties are really fun,” Patton said. “You get to meet a lot of interesting people. There is an emphasis on design, but the most important thing is to have fun. We want to keep it light.”

The showroom soirees are also open to everyone and will be catered by restaurants such as Jack’s, Stingaree and Rama.

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The event is certainly a celebration of quality design, but it is also a blend of art and commerce. Part of the motivation behind What’s Up Girard was to attract new clientele to the area, Patton said.

“There are a lot of new buildings downtown,” Patton said. “We want to reach out to the people moving to downtown, East County and Rancho Santa Fe.”

Patton said the design district in La Jolla is the best place to go in San Diego for high-end interior decorating.

“The event is to showcase the design district,” said Christia Gordon of What’s Up Girard. “They are putting themselves out there as a leader in the design world.”

Following the seminars, each showroom will hold a charitable auction for ArtsBusXpress, an organization that gives underprivileged students the opportunity to attend cultural events in San Diego. The items being auctioned are a series of chairs that each boutique had a hand in designing.

The event is also showcasing the diversity of Girard Avenue’s interior decorating scene. Vendors offer an array of furniture and home accessories, but the common thread among the stores is that they offer some of the best American and European lines, Patton said.

The stores include Seaside Homes, Roche-Bobois and Waterworks.

The seminars will also cover a variety of topics. Phyllis Van Doren, senior editor at San Diego Home-Garden Lifestyles, will be speaking at Divan Studio about the changes in the San Diego design scene. Van Doren will discuss the shift from traditional to contemporary decor in San Diego.

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Seaside Homes will be sponsoring a guest lecture by Gregory Heller of Baker Furniture about the genius of good design. Baker is one of the most distinguished names in design, according to Seaside Homes designer Sheryll Jackman.

“There are a lot of details about Baker that set them apart from most manufacturers,” Jackman said.

Last year’s What’s Up Girard attracted 900 visitors, and more are expected to turn out for this year’s celebration.

“We get a variety of people of all ages attending,” Patton said. “People should come out because it will be a lot of fun.”