Modern Props 1977-2020
Taking the time to think about Modern Props and it’s legacy as it’s doors are finally closed is a walk down memory lane. Modern Props began as a prop house for modern props before “modern” was even hip.
By this point it is likely everyone has read the Los Angeles Times article about Modern Props closing. What was a little sad to me was that there was no appreciation for the history behind Modern Props and how they first began. Of course if my memory recalls appear inaccurate to anyone reading this blog please correct me (if you’re still around and can remember).
It all starts in 1977 when John Zabrucky came out from Ohio and first opened up his shop at 1130-X West Florence Ave, Inglewood. He would work out of this location until some time in 1980-82.
The fabrication began after their move in the early 80’s to 4063 Redwood Ave in Los Angeles. All kinds of futuristic items that would soon become iconic were built here and the fabrication department that was formed at this point would go on to make countless items and sets seen in films and television shows over the next 30+ years. If you required electronic lasers, panels, computer consoles and anything else sci-fi meant you were stopping at Modern Props and Woody’s. The former’s collection of furniture and dressing was also to be rivaled.
By the mid-90s John had partnered up with two other prominent personalities; Mike Ladish and Mark Robinson. Along with their involvement the company came a big move to 5500 W. Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles. (They also happened to be one of the first to go online with their inventory!) This latest location was where many may remember the employees wearing white jump suits in the manner of lab technicians, or even astronauts. When you arrived at Jefferson Blvd you were transported to the land of high end furniture and quirky futuristic tech with a custom shop ready to build whatever set pieces, furniture, or hand prop you needed. By this point their inventory was also being stocked annually with fresh selections shipped in from various European locations.
As time moved on Mark Robinson left to establish a modern kitchen and fixtures company by the name of Bofi and Mike Ladish broke away to focus on Modern Living, a high end modern furniture business. This left John back to his singular ownership position with Ken Sharp steadfastly leading the charge as both manager and face of the company. Modern Props would continue to be the prop house known for designing the future’s aesthetic and dutifully maintaining their vast inventory of furniture.
As the industry came to change, so did the city itself. As the Metro train settled it’s tracks by their front door Modern Props successfully accomplished the improbable task of moving everything one more time. This latest location on 972 Griswold Ave, San Fernando was a necessary move that, unfortunately, never caught fire. As 2019 came to an end so did our Modern Props, Inc.
It is with a heavy heart with which everyone bids Modern Props farewell. Every lover of film and television, viewers and creators alike, over the last 40 years has in part some thanks to give to Modern Props. From Star Trek to Men in Black, Austin Powers sets and even more recently practically an entire submarine set, Modern Props has shaped what viewers believe futuristic technology and contemporary furniture should look like.
Those looking for where some of the items have settled have Modernica Props and LCW Props to thank. They have acquired the vast majority of furniture and decor that had been housed at Modern Props.