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How to Holiday Shop Like an Award-Winning Architect

Check out Anthony Poon's go-to spots for just the right gift.

Anthony Poon and two of his restaurant projects, Chaya Downtown and Din Tai Fung. Photography by Gregg Segal

This holiday season is upon us and we’re committed to making gift-shopping fun, not frustrating. That’s why we asked architect and interior designer Anthony Poon for his ideas on the subject. A man of many talents (Anthony is a trained musician, an artist, an author and a certified Feng Shui professional), we knew he’d have lots of interesting thoughts to share. We were right. Check out his recommendations below!

The Mart Collective, Los Angeles

“At the borderline of Venice, this 16,000-square-foot warehouse is a treasure hunter’s delight. 100 individual dealers offer a gamut of vintage and contemporary collectibles, artifacts, art, oddities, and endless aisles of incredible curiosities. I recently purchased a collection of antique miniature cupcakes for my daughter--so tiny that several pieces could balance on the tip of my finger. I also picked up a rare autographed edition of the idyllic paradise, The Sea Ranch. And The Mart Collective has a parking lot.”

A festive vignette, courtesy of The Mart Collective

Arcana: Books on the Arts, Culver City

“Unfortunately, books are becoming more rare, maybe even extinct. But Arcana won’t let that happen and nothing beats the experience of browsing for hours through the most in-depth of collections on the creative process and resulting works of art—from art to photography, from fashion to architecture, from ceramics to landscape. The author receptions are also worth seeking out. Not too long ago, I bought two hard-to-find monographs on my fave, Jean-Michel Basquiat. And yes, Arcana carries my book as well.”

Image via Arcana

Dandelion Chocolate, DTLA

“Los Angeles’ entrepreneurial and cultural scene is pushed forward at ROW DTLA, a hip adaptive reuse of six existing warehouses—an urban work of art in progress. Stop in at the “bean-to-bar chocolate” store, arriving in our town from the Mission District of San Francisco. Before making your gift purchases, let your taste buds enjoy the chocolate tasting bar. Styled like a sleek art gallery-meets-cute jewelry store, Dandelion is chocolate heaven for those who can distinguish between beans from Madagascar vs. Belize.”

Mouthwatering image via Dandelion

Chinatown Shops, Los Angeles

“No one shop in particular—this vibrant historic neighborhood is the mash-up of touristy novelties such as silk paper fans, ivory carvings, Kung Fu slippers, Lucky Money plants, as well as quality jade and gold pendants at reasonable prices. Where else in our city can one enjoy the Asian heritage at your fingertips, followed by an authentic dim sum lunch or a fortune teller reading? I don’t miss an opportunity to buy a pound of freshly barbequed, unsliced Char Sui.”

Image courtesy of Mystic Gallery

 Mystic Journey Crystal Gallery, Los Angeles

“If you are a shopper of crystals and gems, this gallery has few rivals. You will find the most delicate rose quartz or obsidian stones that fit in the palm of your hand, to an amethyst geode the size of your refrigerator. Say hello to founder Jeffrey, who has the best job traveling to exotic places around the globe in search of the most precious and beautiful of earth’s offerings. My citrine crystal is supposed to bring prosperity and success. The gallery aside, Mystic Journey has a smaller crystal shop and bookstore on nearby Abbot Kinney. Soundbaths are also available to true believers.”

Image courtesy of Mystic Gallery

Barneys New York, Beverly Hills

“For luxury shopping, I go to 90210. Stroll through the clothing styles and browse the shoe collections, but make a stop at the second floor gift department. Here, the most curated objects are presented in a comfortable surrounding with great service, packaging and shipping. Over the years, I have purchased hand painted vases, lacquered boxes, leather coin dishes, cashmere throws, and even designer Christmas tree ornaments.”

Photo via Peter Marino, Peter Aaron / ESTO

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