High-rise condo building reflected in windows of a modern glass-and-steel skyscraper in Akasaka, Tokyo.
Salt Fish Surf Co is a surfy boutique in Venice, in Los Angeles, run by the effusive and friendly French surfer Romaine Goudinoux, who designs and sells branded t-shirts, caps, accessories, and leather-and-fabric surfboard bags hand-crafted in Mexico. But, to be clear, his small second-floor store is not a surf shop. In fact, Salt Fish hardly feels like retail space at all, but rather a beautiful shabby-chic, hipster-surfer living room (dubbed “La Casa Saltfish“). It’s fillwd with Mexican blankets and rugs and a few surfboards propped up amid a tiny selection of merch for sale. The space and vibe is so cozy and chill that you don’t ever want to leave.
You, savvy reader, are probably a fan of architecture. If not of architecture in and of itself, then perhaps as an extension of being a fan of design. Or at the very least you appreciate architecture, after all, you most likely live in a building.
Maybe you are an architecture tourist — an “architourist” — who seeks out contemporary, architecturally significant buildings on your globe-spanning travels. Such that when you visit, say, Barcelona, you get excited about going to take a look at the Torre Agbar, designed by Jean Nouvel, whereas the package tourist hordes are bee-lining for the popular cathedrals like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.
You may have even read a few books about architecture. These books are not just enormously heavy coffee-table tomes filled with beautiful photos of great buildings, but rather books filled with texts, long-form prose about architecture, books with actual chapters that require actual reading. Books like the excellent and amusing “From Bauhaus to Our House” by Tom Wolfe.
You may even be a fan of specific architectural design styles and movements: Modernism, International Style, Googie, Mid-Century Modern, Art Deco, the aforementioned Bauhaus, and Brutalism. These mean something to you. Or at least you’ve heard of them.
There’s also a possibility you like Legos.
The person who runs the Instagram account @brutsinlego is a lover of Legos, is a fan of architecture, is a fan (we presume) of Brutalist architecture, in all its minimalist, fortress-like, gray-concrete socialist-tinged glory.
And now we are a fan of him and his Insta account, which is devoted to showcasing the small Lego constructions he and his children make of famous Brutalist buildings around the world.
A small sample of these is posted here for your delight and review.
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.
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.
It’s no secret that we here at Global Graphica are fond practitioners of surfing, the so-called Hawaiian “sport of kings.” After contemporary art and good espresso, surfing is our other true obsession.
So on our recent road trips up and down the SoCal coast in search of waves, we stopped in the seaside city of San Clemente, the self-proclaimed “Spanish village by the sea” and a hotbed of surfing and surf culture in south Orange County. There we popped into the Album surfboards shop for the first time to see for ourselves the brand’s famously beautiful and well-designed boards.
We didn’t expect that the shop itself would be as beautiful as those boards. In fact, as we approached the entrance to the minimalist storefront, we were in the hottest of a hot secs stopped in our tracks.
We stood, slacked-jawed and wondered, “Are we in the wrong place? This must be the office of an architecture firm, surely? Or perhaps a day spa designed for the publishers of Wallpaper magazine?”
It was none of those things, savvy reader! It was a surf shop. It was the Album surfboards shop.
We had found surfing’s Holy Grail: An aesthetically-pleasing retail experience ensconced in sophisticated, minimalist architectural design. Our hearts fluttered.
Most surf shops, ya see, they … well, they suck, aesthetically speaking. Most surfboard shapers and brands suck, aesthetically speaking. (As people, they’re awesome; They don’t suck.) But most of them have no taste.
And this bothers us, savvy reader. It tears at our souls. Album, however, has restored our faith.
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.
French photographer Thibaud Poirier has created a series of photos documenting 25 of Europe’s grandest and beautiful great libraries. Poirier’s images capture the vast interior spaces of what he calls “temples of cultural worship.” In all of the these images the libraries are empty.
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
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.
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.
The Parisian clothing and retail brand A.P.C. recently opened a shop in Silver Lake in Los Angeles. Like may of this French fashion label’s stores, whether it’s in Tokyo, Paris or New York, this new LA outpost has its own distinct interior design aesthetic, different from all the other A.P.C. stores, yet inscrutably “on brand” in its warm minimalism.
A.P.C. stores embrace the constraints and quirks of the space they occupy and subtly absorb the character of the surrounding neighborhoods they’re in. At the Silver Lake store, the tiered shelving system is the foremost feature of the space. It’s a piece of architecture in and of itself within the shop space, built in smack in the center of the store and easily eating up much of the architectural footprint. Customers can walk through it.
The plain distilled earthiness of the wood suggests a casual, clean organic aesthetic in sync with the Southern California “canyon spirit” style, but the thin bars of LED lights augment this with a restrained hint of the Hollywood glamor. All in all, it sweetly aligns with the the clothing brand’s style of fashion.
This taco stand popped up at the biannual Echo Park Craft Fair in Silver Lake this past weekend. It seems you can’t drive a block in Los Angeles wihtout seeing either a small taco joint, truck, take-out window or improvised stand. But this one is unique in a couple of ways, most notably in its architecture and construction. The do-it-yourself quality to the construction and use of materials is clever. Long wood boards have been slotted into the gaps in a stack of wood pallets. These pallets form columns and the boards function as shelves and a counter. The menu items are written in chalk on the side of the pallets. White fabric has been thrown over the contruction to form a roof. Then there is the decor. There’s a Tibetan Buddhist-style string of colorful flags strung along the top of the stand. Woven Mexican bowls on the columns add color. Potted plants accent the facade and rest on heavy wood blocks that help support the columns. It’s brilliant, though one wonders how structurally sound it is and whether it’s “up to code,” as they say.
We’re not religious. But museums are our cathedrals, our churches and temples, our shrines. MoMA may be the modern art world’s Vatican, but in terms of pure open space, MoCA’s Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles comes closest to a giant cathedral like Notre Dame with its massive, cavernous structure. We’re not saying that this museum is equivalent to Notre Dame as far as degree of architectural achievement and historical significance. We’re saying that it is a big fucking space and one that invites reflection and a kind of awe.
The Geffen was kind of a happy accident. The building wasn’t purpose built to be a contemporary art museum. The structure is in LIttle Tokyo in Downtown LA and was originally built in the 1940s for the city as a warehouse and LA Police Department garage accommodating hundreds of vehicles. At the time, MoCA’s use of the space was purely practical.
While the main landmark MoCA branch was being built on nearby Grand Avenue in the early 1980s, the warehouse/garage in Little Tokyo was used as a temporary exhibition space dubbed the “Temporary Contemporary.” Its purpose was to host art shows until construction of the new main MoCA would be completed. The acquisition of the building made sense. The Temporary Contemporary was a success.
It was repurposed as a permanent exhibition space and extension of MoCA. Architect Frank Gehry led the effort. The Geffen’s location is walking distance to the main MoCA location in Downtown LA, and the former LAPD garage offers the kind of space that allows for sprawling exhibitions and epic, large-scale sculptural artworks and installations that might be more diffciult or impossible to mount in other museums.
The clothing brand Monrow will soon be opening a retail concept store in this tiny, old California-style bungalow near Venice Beach in Los Angeles. As standard retail practice, the windows of the house-turned-shop are covered with paper to provide privacy while the final interior build-out is being completed. The Monrow signage is up and the lights are on, so the brand has announced itself in the neighborhood. It will be interesting to see what the company does with the space.
. . .
The original location of the iconic and legendary bodybuilding mecca Gold’s Gym is a block away from the sands of Venice Beach in Los Angeles. The painted logotype signage on its facade is faded, and that, coupled with the simple architecture of the building, suggests the gym’s vintage and no-nonsense austerity. This is where Arnold Schwarzenegger trained as a bodybuilder in the 1970s and ’80s before launching his action-film career. A few blocks away stands a much larger and modern Gold’s Gym where the bodybuilding tradition continues.
The cafe at Menotti’s Coffee is a third-wave espresso joint and a friendly little hub for the legion of caffeinated locals and a certain stylish subset of Silicon Beach worker bees in the heart of Venice in Los Angeles. The baristas are serious about their coffee game but with zero pretension, in spite of the smattering of hipster accoutrements. Sure, there’s a skateboard and fixed-gear bicycle propped against a wall inside the cafe, and there’s beautiful, curated art photography on the wall, but its presence seems more a natural byproduct of taste than strategic. Across from the cafeteria is the famous, epic-scaled Venice “Touch of Evil” mural. On a slow day, we’ll cruise over to Menotti’s on our bikes for a long break and a flat white cappuccino.
Menotti’s Coffeeはロサンゼルスのヴェネツィアで “Silicon Beach”で働くスタイリッシュな若者やカフェ、親しみやすい小さなエスプレッソバーです。 カフェバリスタはコーヒーについて真剣です。 彼らにはプレテンションはありません。 しかし、彼らはヒップスターです。 もちろん、カフェの中にはスケートボードと固定式の自転車があります。 壁に美しくキュートな芸術的な写真があります。 これはメノッティスタイルの例です。 カフェの通りを渡って、有名な、壮大なサイズのヴェネツィア「Touch of Evil」の壁画があります。 私たちが忙しくないとき、仕事から休みを取って、メノッティに自転車を乗せて、美味しいフラットホワイトのカプチーノを飲むことにします。