Commitment to long-lived street sofas and beloved LA furniture

Analise McNeill is known in a circle of friends and acquaintances as the person who writes the text about the sofa on the street that seems to be rescued. Her Burbank apartment is 90% decorated with what was found.

The once cracked mint vinyl “Jetsons” style sofa she picked up on Christmas Eve. Redecorated with 1950s emerald velvet. Mismatched love seats and footstools come back to life with vintage dead stock fabrics. Peeled and dirty mid-century modern look The chair next to the Loss Ferris Dumpster, which turned out to be the original Swedish Dax.

Since 2018, she has collected more than 20 items with the goal of never buying a new one. Sometimes she modifies and sells her work if it doesn’t suit her taste. The goal is to reuse them.

“Literally, Los Angeles television screenwriter McNeil says,” I’ve become a trash man. “

What is Los Angeles, if not a garbage city?

From the outside world, street furniture may not look like a representative of LA. It’s a hand-painted sign with Mama, not the shiny sea of ​​a car that reflects 10 sunshine. A rainbow umbrella that covers mid-city pop shops and street vendors from MacArthur Park to South Central. But do you like it or hate it-and some people really hate it-these works are part of the cultural and visual structure here.

Like or hate — and some people really hate it — street furniture is part of LA’s cultural and visual fabrics

(Madeleine Holdinsky / Los Angeles Times)

“My New York friend [vomiting noises] “Oh, that’s what,” says McNeil. “But when you’re a kid in LA, you’re insensitive to those of others.”

Some Angelenos have seen so many pieces of furniture on the streets in their lifetime and have become unaware of it. Abandoned chairs and tables blend into the Western and Normandy landscapes. Others can’t see street furniture, even if they want.

There are many motives. McNeil’s obsession with street furniture evolved as an attempt to respond to climate insecurity and adopt a zero-waste lifestyle (even if she can’t get her own work, as someone does. She posts it on Craigslist). Others are crazy about the thrill of getting unique items for free and giving them a new home.

Then there are people like Keith Plocek who see the abandoned sofa beside the busy LA street and think of it as art. It is worth documenting as much as possible.

When Plocek, a professor of USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, purchased a domain In 2010, he was fascinated by taking pictures of “what’s inside now outside”, he says.He will soon create @streetcouch Instagram When twitter Account, he posts his own photo with submissions from all over the world.

“Theoretically, every object has a story, but there’s something on the couch,” says Plocek. “We are sitting on them. We sleep on them. We are having sex with them. Some people die on them. It is very difficult to throw them on the curb. Ignorant, but on the same circuit, there is some kind of beauty. I can imagine what kind of life I was living. “

Over the years, he noticed the LA Street Couch classification he wrote for Vice in 2014. There’s an uncushioned couch, a scribble canvas, a keeper, and unfortunately a toilet.

Plocek is one of many people recording or creating art from street sofas in Los Angeles.Created by photographer Andrew Ward a few years ago Heading For his gentle portrait of the sofa in his ongoing project, LA sofa Artist passing by Lonely city Document “sad public installations” (sad faces on drifting TVs, sofas, refrigerators, etc.) on Instagram. Sara Pinho, a researcher living in Inglewood, tumbler Log the rotating furniture in the alley next to her house.

Dog standing in a chair

Analyze McNeil’s dog Norman in a bedroom chair. Both Norman and the chair were found by the side of the road.

(Madeleine Holdinsky / Los Angeles Times)

Pinho is interested in this abandoned piece of furniture as an anthropological study, especially at Inglewood, which is undergoing rapid gentrification. What does this alley say about who is staying and who is forced to leave?

“I’m very interested in furniture as a statement about how people live,” she says.

But for many, these works are focused on what they can do when given a new life, not when they are on the street. And that is clear by how quickly good things are robbed.

“The speed at which things are picked up from time to time is amazing,” says Plocek, who most often saw this lively turnaround in densely populated areas such as around the USC.


Find another street. McNeil’s obsession with street furniture evolved as an attempt to respond to climate insecurity and adopt a zero-waste lifestyle.

(Madeleine Holdinsky / Los Angeles Times)

Zack Haley remembers his lucky discovery as yesterday.

He was a college student living on 4th Avenue in Long Beach, struggling to get through and looking for something as free or discounted as possible. I saw it late one night when I came back from the beach with a friend. The floral love seats are in perfect condition, with curved wooden accents and cushions submerged deeply.

“It felt like a gift,” says Haley. “As it was for us.”

Haley and his friend walked the couch five blocks back to his house and put it on the porch. He and his roommate were sleeping on it. Then drink beer. Then smoke. Please laugh. It has become a supporting player in their lives as a young man in his twenties living on Long Beach.

“Thanks to the sofa, I spent hours on the pouch next year,” he says.

The next special discovery came on a rainy day early last year when he recorded a once-in-a-lifetime piece at the median East LA. It felt like a hallucination.Herman Miller [Eames] Chair. “(Almost the same thing $ 1,000 Currently online. )

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount of street furniture discarded has increased. According to LA Sanitation & Environment, the number of calls to receive bulky items such as sofas, mattresses and other furniture that is too large for dumplings increased by 20% from 2019 to 2020. The LA Office of Public Works theorizes that this is the result of a number of people remodeling their homes or moving in a hurry during a pandemic closure.

Haley believes that the increase in street sofas last year may be partly due to the cultural changes made possible by the pandemic. According to him, even the most experienced scavengers are exposed to bacteria, even though we know how COVID-19 is transmitted, and everything, including the zookeeper, It is piled up.

Angelenos has an opinion on the cleanliness and safety of taking a street couch home, whether pandemic or not.

Some people don’t like it and think it’s unsanitary. Others see it as the LA version of the circle of life. Some people take precautions against things like bed bugs by avoiding things made of cloth — choosing a metal or wood surface that they can wipe off. And others, if the fabric sofa is well-shaped, invest in a disinfectant spray and expect the best.

“My dirty skin particles, how better than this last person?” Haley asks. “I’m very open to looking at furniture about what it was, what it was, and what it could be — there are almost drawbacks.”

McNeil's dining room contains several items on the side of the road, such as two blue dining room chairs.

McNeil’s dining room contains several items on the side of the road, such as two blue dining room chairs.

(Madeleine Holdinsky / Los Angeles Times)

McNeil was able to seduce some of his most resistant friends into his lifestyle by looking at the quality of what he brought in. “I want to change the way people think about abandoned furniture,” she says.

Her partner, Andrew Hobson, lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, so he’s just new to the idea of ​​street furniture and has never really been grossed out. Comedy writer Hobson was more or less impressed with what we found on the street. ” “We were offering an apartment.”

Rex Dean, a musician living in Silver Lake, was the kind of person who slowed down his car as he passed through mountains as usual. As a poorly raised child, this was inevitable, he says. His first street discovery happened when he was four years old. A James Bond car toy with an ejection seat. Since then he has been gathered. When he had his own children, he passed on the tradition to them.

Cleaning will shape Dean’s values ​​over the years, even if it becomes an option. Recently, Dean believes that perfectly good furniture goes to the trash can is immoral. The number of discoveries in his apartment is 15 chairs, 1 card table, 1 desk, 4 bulletin boards, 3 coffee tables, 7 side tables, 1 bench, 3 lamps, 6 works of art, One guitar, two speakers, and two mirrors. , 5 planters and 2 plant stands.

A few weeks ago he noticed a nice looking brown leather sofa on the street and wanted someone else to snap. Dean already had everything he needed.

“A major factor in climate change is overconsumption,” says Dean. “And the truth is that you can feel very prosperous and lucky without having to buy a new one.”

Analyze McNeil's pose in the alley of the green chair.

McNeil poses for the original Swedish Dux, which was picked up next to the Los Ferriz dumplings and then refurbished.

(Madeleine Holdinsky / Los Angeles Times)

In 2018, McNeil changed his life by taking a class called Waste Warriors at the Burbank Recycling Center. That’s why she started picking up furniture from the streets as if it were her religion.

Woman has a gold frame

McNeil found big items like sofas and coffee tables, as well as small items like this frame.

(Madeleine Holdinsky / Los Angeles Times)

The program is run by Amy Hames, a recycling specialist in Burbank. She says reuse is the most desirable option when it comes to street couches. Most furniture is non-recyclable, she says, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, 9 million tonnes of it is put into landfills each year.

Los Angeles has options for residents to dispose of furniture. People can call 311 or hygiene services directly for free pick-up. But in this way, the story behind these works is lost, and James says, more waste is created.

“We need to be much more resilient in assessing what we have and creating a support program that makes disposal the least attractive option rather than the cheapest and easiest option. there is.”

People throw away sofas all over the world, but there’s something clear from start to finish about what’s happening here.

Angelenos treats street furniture hunting as an extreme sport. In some way, it’s about preserving the story of the city and its inhabitants.

McNeil considers street furniture culture to be “very LA” for the following reasons: Second, we are in a vast metropolis. Street sofas are a natural by-product of that. Second, there is the temporary nature of LA, where people constantly go in and out, get off and pick up.

Haley sees it more romantically — as an act of love between Angelenos looking for each other.

“In LA, when you find something on the street, it means you’re picked up,” he says. “Someone was put out there with the intention of getting it for free, because it’s always somewhere in the corner where you can benefit from this.”

Commitment to long-lived street sofas and beloved LA furniture

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