When most people think of salon culture, they think of Paris. Judith Hoffman thinks of Budapest. “Salons were very popular in what was then Austro-Hungary,” says the Hungarian-born owner and operator of Szalon, her Los Angeles antique gallery. Over time, Szalon has grown into one of the finest collections of early-20th-century Austro-Hungarian furniture in the world.
Although raised in Hungary until she was 14, Hoffman really didn’t develop her love of Hungarian modernist furniture until, after raising a family, she went back to school to study art history and design. When she would visit Hungary during the 1980s, she couldn’t bring anything back with her; it wasn’t until after the Revolutions of 1989 and the end of Soviet-style Communist government in Hungary that the antiques could be legally exported. Hoffman is passionate when she talks about these things, and it is clear that her love of Hungarian modernism is as much a love of history as of design.
While most of Szalon’s clients come from out of state and even from abroad, the simplicity and compactness of the style is gaining appeal among locals who are opting in increasing numbers to return to the new and renovated high-rises of downtown Los Angeles.
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