G+ and the A-List

All high-end restaurants, clubs and hotels are not created equally. Some simply rise to the top and stay there. Others fade into the past like a romantic comedy that goes straight to DVD. There are countless reasons for this reality. But one thing is for sure. A smart way to keep a hot spot hot is to guarantee it gets high marks in the areas of architecture and design.

All high-end restaurants, clubs and hotels are not created equally. Some simply rise to the top and stay there. Others fade into the past like a romantic comedy that goes straight to DVD. There are countless reasons for this reality. But one thing is for sure. A smart way to keep a hot spot hot is to guarantee it gets high marks in the areas of architecture and design.

Enter Gulla Jonsdottir. Creative force behind the globally successful design firm G+ Gulla Jonsdottir Design in Los Angeles, this award-winning architect and designer helps her clients make the grade in the fiercely competitive and fickle market of social venues. 

Esquire gave Gulla an A+ by bestowing its 2010 “Best Design of the Year” award to Red O Restaurant—a Rick Bayless Mexican restaurant in West Hollywood—that she had a lead role in producing. “I designed the exterior of Red O to look as though it is a wrapped present from Mexico to Los Angeles,” Gulla shares. Her strategy worked. This offering begs to be opened and investigated—one glorious detail at a time.

An establishment reminiscent of an upscale getaway on the sandy shores of Cabo, Red O unfolds with a dramatic ambiance that indulges the desire for luxury but also satisfies the need for a sophistication that is casual. Gulla, who received her degree in architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles, describes her style as modern organic. Translation: Her designs meet at the intersection of streamlined and naturally derived, boasting an unmistakable understanding of both hip and timeless elements.

At Red O, soaring ceilings and a soothing color palette of browns, beiges and ivories set the stage for the entire production. Then subtle texture juxtapositions start to reveal themselves, making it impossible for focus to be claimed by just one feature. Sheer draperies—which certainly defy anything close to a standard length—caress the magnificent windows of the structure. They contrast perfectly with the richly stained wood elements, just as they effortlessly play off the earthy pebbled flooring and contemporary adobe accents of the setting. Meanwhile, muted wicker chairs and oversized potted plants evoke a balmy ocean breeze. And that’s just in the main dining room.

Gulla designed Red O to be enjoyed by guests from 5 p.m. till 2 a.m. The first drink of the night is often sipped from a seat at the bar. But as you can imagine, a run-of-the-mill barstool was not going to cut it at this design haven. Sitting at the bar in this establishment means swaying on a leather swing. This relaxing motion entices one to take in the impressive details within the area. Star features include a striking column of steel roses that cascades down from a ceiling beam and curved walnut shelves that showcase liquor bottles as individual works of art. Celebrating these design choices calls for another drink before dinner.

Gulla says she has a passion for “using ordinary things in very unordinary ways.” She did just that when she designed a curving tequila tunnel that is lined with floor-to-ceiling glass display cases housing premium liquors. Whether one needs a nightcap or not, a journey through this tunnel and into the lounge area—where cushioned couches and a relaxed mood await—is a must.

Another must is making reservations at Palmilla Cocina Y Tequileria in Hermosa Beach. Slated to open this summer, this boutique Mexican restaurant promises to demonstrate Gulla’s belief in “creating architecture with artistic sensibility.” Since Palmilla is going to be quite an intimate venue in terms of size, Gulla’s design expertise will be appreciated close-up. An ultra-chic den set to be doused in an earthy color palette, the restaurant will display an equally subdued and energetic balance of natural materials in an array of different shapes and sizes. Unique metal light fixtures, patterned walls, intricate ceilings and rustic candelabras will all contribute to a most comfortable and dramatic atmosphere. 

Gulla’s Palmilla design work can be found all over Los Angeles. When you go clubbing at Eden, or check into the Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel or the Hollywood Roosevelt, you will be able to experience her incredible aesthetic first-hand.  

And many more projects are in the works for Gulla. Out of curiosity, I asked the architect what would constitute a dream project for her. She replied, without a hint of hesitation, “A skyscraper.” An expanded answer did not follow. She simply donned a broad smile along with a twinkle in her eye, letting me know that she is ready to take on any part of the cityscape.

Fingers crossed, we spectators will cock our heads to the heavens above in the near future to steal a glance of one of her vertical masterpieces. And if the design calls for it, I wouldn’t put it past Gulla to top the height of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which holds the official title of tallest building in the world. My only request is that her creation sets aside one level for a Mexican restaurant.

To find out more about G+ Gulla
Jonsdottir Design, go to gplusdesign.com.

More Stories
People

Stroke of Genius

Two South Bay locals make a splash indoors with one of the oldest maritime traditions.

Processing...
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
JOIN THE SOUTHBAY COMMUNITY
ErrorHere