Less is more. Keep it simple. Smaller is better. These are all-too-familiar phrases that many know, yet few live by. Brad and Jenna Holdgrafer, owners of Downtown LA’s minimalist-inspired home store Formerly Yes, are two of those rare few. Through their shop’s artfully curated selection of books, kitchenware, home goods and accessories, the husband-and-wife duo has been redefining what it means to live in luxury by demonstrating that a few finely crafted objects can communicate one’s desired esthetic.
We spoke with the Holdgrafers, who discussed their eye for design, how they define luxury, and tips for those looking to pare down on their possessions without compromising personal taste.
Please briefly describe your shop—what you carry and the concept behind the business:
Jenna: We are a small design shop interested in functionality and good design. We get a lot of our products from Japan, Scandinavia, and some are made right there in the U.S. And we believe in buying less, but better. The Ultima Thule glasses, designed in Finland during the 60’s and are still produced in the same factory today, are a favorite of mine. They are perfectly relevant today and add something to experience of drinking a cocktail. Their weight, texture, and beauty speak volumes!
Is this a principle by which you live?
Jenna: Yes! Our first home was a sailboat. We lived there for the first year of our marriage back in 2012. It started the lifestyle of owning fewer items and making sure the items we did own were made well.
What inspired you to start Formerly Yes?
Jenna: We’re super interested in good design and we wanted to create a platform for that conversation. Specifically, we’re focused on classic design and functionality. We look for staples that will not go out of style in the next few years. A lot of our products are old classics designed in the ’60s and ’70s. We’re focused on quality and the long-term lifespan of the item.
How would you define luxury?
Brad: Luxury is having the opportunity to work with the person I love most every day, on something we built together.
Jenna: Luxury is having the ability to spend a little more on an everyday item because you love the design and the way it was made.
Do you have any tips for readers looking to de-clutter, to live better with less?
Jenna: I think it’s important to think through every purchase. Ask simple questions: Why do I want this? Do I need this? Is this the best item to fulfill my need? Is this item special? It’s just being aware of how the product is made, where it comes from, and how long it’s going to last in your life.