Modern Hacienda Sets Up Shop on El Paseo

We chat with Modern Hacienda co-owner Lawrence Lazzaro about the design firm’s new location on El Paseo, which opened earlier this month.
Story By: Jessica Ritz
Photography by Modern Hacienda (above image by Lance Gerber)
Nicholas Hertneck and Lawrence Lazzaro’s combined resumes read like the ultimate creative polymath adventure. Having lived and worked in various industries on both coasts, the multidisciplinary design pair — Lazzaro also studied music and theater at the famed Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio — ultimately wound up in the Coachella Valley after a successful run in Los Angeles. In 2014, they officially established Nicholas Lawrence Design, a full-service interior design firm, and the following year transformed part of their 6,000-square-foot studio situated within The Lofts complex in Palm Desert into Modern Hacienda, a boutique and showroom.

Hertneck and Lazzaro recently expanded their local footprint with a second Modern Hacienda location on El Paseo in Palm Desert, debuting the new 3,000-square-foot space on Feb. 1. We caught up with Lazzaro to learn why this destination is an ideal fit to bring more top-tier design to the public (including the officially licensed design classics Modern Hacienda carries), and how the project expresses Modern Hacienda’s point of view and design philosophy.


How is Modern Hacienda an extension of your interior design business?

Modern Hacienda is design- and home-related, but that’s kind of where the extension ends. It’s definitely its own entity and is a branded aesthetic.

Modern Hacienda is design- and home-related, but that’s kind of where the extension ends. It’s definitely its own entity and is a branded aesthetic.

What’s exciting about having a new presence on El Paseo?

Being on El Paseo gets us out in front of our audience in a more obvious way. It’s exciting to be surrounded by other active merchants. There’s a camaraderie that’s really supportive and exciting. We also got to step up the look a little bit more. It looks a little bit more luxurious because the envelope allowed it to. With the original space, it grew organically, whereas this space we got to plan out.

How has the expansion helped this venture evolve?

One of the things that’s happened to the Modern Hacienda brand in the last couple of years is it’s gone from being a furniture showroom to a mini department store. We sell almost everything except apparel. We’ve been expanding the number of brands we represent. We’ve brought in a beautiful Italian lighting line, Luceplan, and an Italian furniture line called Ditre Italia. We’ve brought in a bedding collection called Lili Allesandra and a towel collection I’m super excited about; Mungo from South Africa [makes] these gorgeous flat-weave, colorful towels. Lots of new stuff!

Why the emphasis on carrying authentic, licensed furniture and goods from certain beloved brands?

When we brought in Knoll and Herman Miller, there was no other dealer in the desert who was selling the real deal. But more importantly, we believe in authenticity in design and in life. There are copyright and trademark laws related to this. One of the reasons these pieces are iconic is somebody put a lot of effort into designing them, and a company put a lot of backing for the development of the product.

Your interiors and showroom vignettes reflect a skillful mix of eras and styles. Do you see a certain strain of design purism generally starting to wane? And instead, is there more interest in how these classic pieces can be incorporated into different styles of homes?

I call them “time capsule” houses. That’s never been of interest to my partner, Nicholas, or to me. We are interested in how these iconic pieces play out in a room or a setting. Because they’re so ingrained in our consciousness, it is a piece of sculpture. It’s almost like having a Calder or Brancusi in your room.

The other challenge is, in Palm Springs, a lot of houses were built in the midcentury period and, so the scale of midcentury pieces fits very nicely. But as soon as you get to Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, and La Quinta, rooms become quite large. An Eames lounge chair, which normally looks like a pretty good size in a room, all of a sudden becomes puny. So it’s really important to be able to mix in various pieces to fit the architecture.