Category Archives: Spaces, Places & Architecture

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.

Daydreaming A Little Daydream at Dreamy Daydream

The space at Daydream Coffee and Surf in Costa Mesa, California is great, but it’s missing a few things that would make it perfect: A bed, a TV, and a set of keys to the space with our name on it.

New Issue of International Hipster Design-Porn Mag “Apartamento” Arrives!

We love Apartamento magazine. And so should you. The new issue of this mag devoted to “everyday interiors” and design/designers just arrived at our local purveyor of printed matter and it looks gooooooooood!

Unbearable Cuteness x Freakishness: Artwork at a Venice Beach Surf Shop

Mollusk is the wonderful name of a wonderful surf shop in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. It’s one of three such shops – the others are in San Francisco and the LA neighborhood of Silver Lake. These locations should tell you a lot about Mollusk. There’s a willfully underplayed and potent hipster factor at work here, and the shop has got a reputation for being intimidatingly cool for a certain subset of young adult and teenage surfers, who can sometimes be found lingering outside, tentative before entering this small but influential shrine of good-taste surf retail. (Clearly these kids have issues, but, hey, that’s on the kids, right?)

Mollusk is no ordinary surf shop and thank god for that, because comparatively speaking most shops suck in their seen-one-you’ve-most-certainly-seen-them-all ordinariness. Mollusk has fucking style. The gang that run it have taste, grit, and a keenly curated collection of hand-shaped surfboards. This taste extends to the decor and the artwork of the shop, like the painting pictured below of an unbearably cute if freakish half-furry creature and half-neoprene-clad humanoid surfer smoking a pipe while cruising a wave. The artwork is in the surfboard loft of the Venice shop, and it speaks thick volumes about Mollusk’s style.

“Mirage” at Desert X

Like a shiny extra-terrestrial bobble tucked into the foothills above Palm Springs, “Mirage” by Los Angeles-based artist Doug Aitken is among the most striking contemporary-art experiences of 2017. It’s probably the unofficial rockstar of Desert X, an inaugural exhibition of site-specific artworks mostly in the form of installations and sculptural objects spread across the desert landscape of the Coachella Valley.

“Mirage” is a literal house of mirrors. Its loose architectural form is a single-story ranch house in a nod to the region’s traditional housing style. But it’s a ranch house with a shape augmented by contemporary touches – a skylight, a balcony, a window-less chamber.

All that architecture is just a platform for Aitken’s bold visual statement and its main feature: The mirrored surfaces of the house inside and out. The exterior walls, and interior walls and ceilings, are mirrors reflecting the desert landscape outside and multiplying the reflections inside like a silverlight echo chamber. It is not enough to look at it.

Walking through “Mirage” is to be entranced by the unceasing play of light from every angle and reflective pane and by the all the possibilities in reframing your view of the bright desert outside through the house’s many windows 

Pacific Design Center

The collection of buildings that make up the Pacific Design Center is a bold, massive landmark of West Hollywood, in Los Angeles. Better known to Angelenos perhaps than the outside world, the PDC has aged remarkably well since the first of its buildings was completed in 1975. The building complex is visually striking and unmissable in its unusual use of primary colors and the asymetrical shapes of the buildings and their arrangement. The architecture was conceived by Argentine architect Cesar Pelli and the PDC seems as fresh a presence as any more recent and contemporary buildings in the area.

Common Room

The branding of coffee roaster and cafe Common Room in Costa Mesa, California is a simple two-dimensional, flat icon of a coffee cup and saucer. It appears repeated in a diagonal pattern across the cafe’s exterior, a gray single-story brick warehouse-type building in a light-industrial business park devoid of shops and the hustle-and-bustle street traffic that comes with it. The windows are darkly shaded. Both its location and  secretive minimalist architectural design give it an air of mystique.

Pop-up for David Hockney 

Maximalist German publisher Taschen, producer of epic coffee-table books devoted to all things art and design, has recently given its Los Angeles gallery a wholesale pink makeover. It’s part of the company’s promotion of its new book celebrating the work and career of L.A.-based British artist David Hockney. The gallery is playing host to Hockney’s paintings. The pink exterior is accented with a bold, all-caps, blue treatment of the books title: “A Bigger Book.” The colors reference colors often used in Hockney’s many painting of Los Angeles. Pretty awesome.

“Rock the Dots” Minnie Mouse Mural at Alfred Coffee

Murals of iconic Disney cartoon character Minnie Mouse recently have been popping up at locations of the hip Alfred Coffee in Los Angeles. The one pictured here is at the third-wave coffee chain’s  Studio City cafe. Minnie is shown standing in a cloud of polka dots, for which she is known. At her heels is the hastag #rockthedots. The murals are part of a recent Disney promotional campaign and collaboration with various brands that strategically coincides with National Polka Dots Day (it’s real … who knew?!?!?).

Bicycle-Shaped Bicycle Rack

There must be a word in the English language for when a thing is designed to look like another object with which it’s associated in some practical way, but we can’t find a suitable word. Take for example, this bicycle rack in Silver Lake, in Los Angeles. The rack is shaped like a set of bicycles. It’s a nice touch that makes an otherwise mundane, utilitarian piece of street furniture into an amusing part of the urban landscape. The bicycle shape of the rack communicates its purpose, making the rack easier to visually identify at a distance and thus the search for it that much easier. As for a suitable word, we suggest creating a new, more applicable word. Our suggestion: “resembladinger.” It’s a portmanteau we mashed up from the the words “resemble” and the old Germanic word “ding,” which means thing. We added an “-er” suffix for effect and to suggest it having a practical, tool-like quality. Any other suggestions? Let us know.

The Vista

A classic example of Los Angeles movie-theater architecture from the early days of cinema, the Vista on Sunset Boulevard in Los Feliz is a landmark. Built in 1923, it has been a part of the LA urban landscape for nearly a century, from the silent-film era through to the recent “La La Land,” which can be seen promotoed on the theater marquee.