Artist/Designer Deborah Rhein has been a fixture on the Los Angeles design scene since 1991. Starting from home, crafting unique high end decorative accessories, she has since developed a full-scale design and retail business featuring home and fashion accessories.
Over the past 21 years, D.L. Rhein has become a local and national brand, earning a reputation for turning trash into treasure, resulting in “modern-vintage with a twist”.
D.L. Rhein store and design studio, located in the heart of Los Angeles, is a mecca for specialty products, furniture and accessories hunted and gathered from her travels around the world. The store is a reflection of a unique style and taste that continues to be the vehicle for a thriving interior design business. Whether working with a blank canvas or re-purposing found treasures, the end result is always the same: a fresh new space that reflects beauty and style while melding form and function at its best.
Since 1991, D.L. Rhein has gone from a cottage industry to Licensing partnerships with some of the best in the business. This year, D.L. Rhein was the recipient of The Best Store Design/Re-design Award at the Annual Retail Excellence Awards in NYC. Deborah, her products, and even her home, have been featured in numerous trade publications and home magazines.
She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three children.
Why do people call you the “zhush” doctor?
I have this uncanny ability to walk into a room and begin the transformation process in my head. It begins as something as simple as painting and re-covering an old chair to tearing down walls to create a dream kitchen. When people started calling me the Zhush doctor, I was flattered to be referred to as someone who can “primp and fluff” almost anything.
How did you start your business?
I have always been industrious. Growing up, while my friends were shopping Ralph Lauren and La Coste, I was combing through thrift stores looking for special pieces that could be morphed into something fabulous. I have always enjoyed the challenge of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
After college, I was a struggling actress/director/producer/waitress. One of my part-time jobs was assisting a famous floral designer creating couture arrangements for Saks Fifth Avenue and elaborate weddings. After these big events, there was a lot of waste which everyone else considered trash. Where others saw trash, I found treasure. And thus DL Rhein was born.
The bushels of left over flowers and greens became beautiful adorned picture frames, tea trays, aromatic framed mirrors, and the list kept growing. Each day, as I arrived home from work with a new batch of “trash”, I would sit on the floor of my apartment, with glue gun in hand and create.
Where do you find your inspiration?
How did you get into Licensing?
I was sitting at a trade show a few years back and I was feeling a little stuck. Although I still loved what I was doing I realized that most of my day consisted of 5% creative and 95% micro managing all the people around me. I needed to figure out how to get back to what made me happy and what drove my passion.
As I was walking the aisles of the trade show, I knew I was still passionate about design, but how was I going to be able to grow and brand myself? I started to look for the biggest frame designer. I approached the owner of the company and point blank told him that he needed me. He needed me because most of his merchandise merely knocked off my original designs. I told him I could create new exciting designs exclusively for him and thus a new division of DL Rhein began. I started Licensing my designs to several other large corporations, including my current partnership with PKHC.
How did you get into retail?
I love collecting and hunting for beautiful objects: old, new, antique, and vintage. Having a retail space allows me the opportunity to share these objects and to continue to search for new ones.
How did you transition into interior design?
I put my heart and soul into remodeling both my first and my current family home. Even after being published for both of these projects, I never really considered doing Interior Design for anyone else. However, the retail store has allowed others to appreciate and gravitate towards my unique point of view. When one of my loyal customers asked me to “zhush” and help transform her home, I jumped at the chance. It was a great experience. Since then, I have had the pleasure of helping many people create beautiful and unique spaces to inhabit.
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