Category Archives: Spaces, Places & Architecture

CITY LIFE: BIRD MURAL RUINS OTHERWISE COLD, SLEEK, OVERPRICED MINIMALIST CONDO & PERFECTIONIST LIFESTYLE

Text by Van Corsa

Imagine. You’ve made it. Went to school. Got a job in a tech start-up. Paid off your student debt. Moved to Los Angeles. L.A. Then you got a tech job at another start-up. In Venice, a.k.a., “Silicon Beach.”

That start-up made an app and it got big real fast. You made a shitload of money. Then you MOVED to Venice. Rents insane. Then you BOUGHT in Venice. You found a condo around the corner from fashionable, beautiful and gentrified Abbot Kinney Blvd. Prime real estate. Primo location, bro! Expensive.

This condo, it wasn’t just any condo. Because you’re not just any Silicon Beach scrote. You’re not just another sartorially-challenged techie slacking in basic, comfortable fashion. You are more than just a dude with a closet full of hoodies and New Balance sneakers and the full quiver of video game consoles.

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LUST: A VISIT TO “LONE WOLFS’” LOS ANGELES MUSIC STUDIO

The hyper-aesthetically single-minded and stylistically dialed-in guys who started Lone Wolfs (sic), a surf shop and brand in Los Angeles, are also musical creative types with bona fide pedigrees in music composition and production for big-brand advertising campaigns.

Behind their Venice surf shop, there’s a full-blown recording studio. It’s called Wolf at the Door. And it is sick, dope, boss, fire, Bible, lit AF, etc.

We recently got a private tour and chance to spend some quality time appreciating the studio spaces filled with musical instruments, mixing boards, gadgetry, gear and good lighting. We were enraptured in the presence of such a cool and fun space.

We won’t lie, savvy reader, we did indeed experience many emotions upon feasting our eyes on this studio.

One feeling welled up most strongly: Lust. We were wholly possessed by a powerful urge to just pick up guitars, turn on amps and start making sounds, leaning hard into indulgent audiofile ecstasy.

Just look at these pictures we posted here (below)! LOOK! Don’t these just make you want to start a band right now?!?!?

“I don’t play a musical instrument and I can’t sing,” you plead.

What? Are you kidding?!?! That’s no excuse. It doesn’t matter. Start that fucking band right now! Do it!

CLICHE UPDATE: YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF SURFBOARD AS DECOR

A few months ago we posted on the phenomena of shops and restaurants upgrading their space with the simple act of adding a surfboard as decorative object or artwork to that space. Many pix were included in the post as examples of this trend. This past weekend we discovered yet another example at a  casual seafood restaurant in Newport Beach, California called Bear Flag (killer fish tacos, btw). There, mounted on the wall, is a beautiful, vintage single-fin longboard surfboard with the restaurant’s California-inspired Bear Flag logo laminated onto the bottom of the board. 

RETAIL DESIGN: WHEN YOUR “SHOPPING EXPERIENCE” IS A WORKING GARAGE FOR MOTORBIKE REPAIR

The idea is genius, if maybe accidental and gimmicky to the extreme. HWY is a shop on Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park, in Los Angeles, that sells vintage clothing and original branded HWY t-shirts with a biker bent. The clothes racks and merch tables occupy much of the front half of the small store, but seem incidental to the grime, grease and general mess of motorcyle parts and tools strewn around the store, especially the back half of the retail space which is more or less a bike repair space. Essentially a shop turned mechanic’s work space turned retail operation.

GINGERBREAD HOUSES: IS KITSCHY HOLIDAY CRAFT ON CUSP OF BECOMING LEGIT FORM OF SERIOUS ARTISTIC EXPRESSION?

We are fans of architecture. Even more so we are fans of “architectural design.” However, kitsch and the aesthetics of  the contemporary commercial Xmas holiday experience, we are not fans of. But we were intrigued by a recent contest at our office to design and build a holiday-style gingerbread house. 

The construction and decorative materials were provided to participants (some would be architects, and some legit designers and artists) and included a large gingerbread cookie (of course) in the shape of a pre-fab parts template for the basic house structure, and baggies filled with jellybeans, licorice, gumdrops, pretzels, cookies, marshmellows, candy canes and myriad other sweets of dubious tastes, poor nutritional value and enough sugar to sustain a full-time local dental practice. Continue reading

DECK THE WALLS: SKATEBOARDS AS DECOR – THE HORROR!

There’s really no excuse for this. Unless it’s a college dormitory or your parents’ basement or the living room of a pro skater or the place of business for somebody connected to the skateboarding industry (and by extension the surf industry), skateboards as decorative wall art is no bueno, brah!

You see, savvy reader, once you’re past a certain age and a certain living circumstance (i.e., you’ve moved out of your college dorm room or parents’ basement into your own apartment or one-bedroom condo) your choice of decor and artwork should show that you’re adulting, and we mean adulting hard! Continue reading

ART OF OUR TIME: “MERELY DECORATIVE”? JAPANESE ARTIST YAYOI KUSAMA’S BALLOONS

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s current exhibition at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles is a sensation. It’s a huge bona fide hit. In large part this is due to her super Instagrammable and severely FOMO-inducing art installation known as the “Infinity Room.” Continue reading

POLITICAL BORDERS: THE AESTHETICS OF GEOGRAPHIC DIVISION

The New York Times has just published a fascinating article titled “Eight Ways to Build a Border Wall” that looks at various construction prototypes for a new border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. See screenshot above.

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CONFUSION: “ART-NOT-ART” STREET ART

A funny thing about “art.” Sometimes the happiest of aesthetic accidents happen as a consequence of totally non-artistic impulses.

Take as prima facie example the case of the roller-shutter pictured above. It’s on a warehouse-factory building in the rapidly gentrifying Downtown Los Angeles neighborhood dubbed the Arts District. It’s a beautiful building, a grand structure standing as testament to L.A.’s glorious former industrial past.

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Informative: Tips on Retail Decor Part 1 – Surfboards

Want to add a bit of sexy, aspirational flair to your retail / dining / third-wave coffee establishment, something with a bit of totemic presence and cool-mystique lifestyle cachet?

You say “YES! Yes, I do!” In that case, here’s a tip: Add a surfboard.

That’s it. Just mount a bright colorful surfboard on the wall. Or tuck a couple of beat-up shortboards in the corner of otherwise dead interior space. 

If the board still has wax on it, so much the better for authenticity. If it’s a dinged shortboard autographed by a pro surfer — say, 11-time world champion Kelly Slater — and covered in garish energy-drink sponsorship stickers, well, that’s just great. If it’s a pristine, glossy longboard in a bright, yummy candy color that makes you want to lick the board, that’s fantastic. 

By doing so you’ll have added tremendous value to your business by improving the “customer experience,” and you’ll have instantly hipstafied your establishment by a solid 34%, minimum. We absolutely swear!

Many examples as follows …

From top to bottom: Sunny Days Cafe, Honolulu; Kono’s Restaurant, Haleiwa, Hawaii; G-Shock SoHo Store, New York; Louis Vuitton Store, Santa Monica, Los Angeles; Lost Weekend Cafe, Lower East Side, New York; Chanel surfboard signed by Gisele Bundchen at art gallery, Venice, Los Angeles.