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Meet Barbara Bestor. If you've been to The Grove recently, you may have spotted her cool City of Angels-inspired souvenirs at her brand, Sisters of Los Angeles' pop cart. Or perhaps you've seen the architecture and interior design mastermind's work at Clare Vivier's Silver Lake handbag haven, home decor essential shop A+R or hip Eastside coffee haunt Intelligentsia—all of which she designed.
From decorating some seriously stylish mid-century modern abodes to creating technicolor art installations to designing fashionable HQs around town—hell, Nasty Gal even tapped her to deck out their massive DTLA digs—it's clear the insanely talented designer is at the top of LA's list when it comes to dreaming up inspiring spaces. We sat down with the creative genius and author to find out what influences her designs, her fave spots around LA, what's in store for SOLA and more.
What's the motivation behind your designs for SOLA?
"I'm an architect primarily, but I am really interested in the graphic culture of Los Angeles. I have a show, [Deborah Sussman Loves Los Angeles, that explores this]. A lot of the way LA disseminates the world is through these graphic identities, whether it's the Olympics, or the new Grand Theft Auto version of Los Santos, and I think participating in the exporting of how we see the city and really emphasizing nature & geography—like the beaches and canyons—so it lacks that totally abstract idea of LA, but helps in widening the perception of LA. Not changing the perception but spreading different kinds of images of LA."
Speaking of which, what have you noticed about how people see LA?
"I'm also an émigré from the East Coast, and I think that the general 'old perception' was maybe reinforced by the movies that people made about LA as a no man's land, lack of sincerity, superficiality. In fact, as I and most people I know who have come here as immigrants from other cities have found is this really fertile place for reinventing yourself. And maybe that's another Hollywood metaphor too, but it does sort of work, even for people who are psychologists or lawyers. There's this possibility of change, and in the context of the geography and the sun, [LA] is so fertile for growing new things. And the embrace of color; it's never been a monochromatic city."
So how has it been transitioning from designing spaces to products?
"One of the things I was interested in 3D land was in the graphic realm; how you can use 2D to change 3D and how you can change people's perception of a space using graphic elements. I've been doing that in my work for a long time…I used to do a ton of retail back in the day, and I've tried to incorporate it even in residential projects.
In a way, [Sisters of Los Angeles] was an opportunity to isolate and focus on 2D in terms of the imagery, but then slowly getting more 3D but at the product level. It's a long tradition in design culture that people go from a pen to a chair to a building and back and forth, and one of my desires philosophically is to take back a lot of that design territory for architecture. I feel like we've all become so specialized. It's so limiting, so the ability to go back and forth on the spectrum is super stimulating."
And where do you go to find inspiration in LA—whether it's shopping, eating or otherwise?
"For inspiration I definitely like Griffith Park and walking around up in the hills; once in a while i'll go to the Santa Monica Mountains, but it's so far!
I shop a lot at more boutique-y places like Lost & Found or Yolk in Silver Lake, and A+R and Clare Vivier…I try to only design stores that I actually go to. I like Mohawk General Store in Silver Lake, and I particularly love the Opening Ceremony here even more than the New York one because it's more mysterious; [it's that] Charlie Chaplin building on La Cienega, and it feels more like I'm in Tokyo or London. Design-wise I think the [Malibu Country Mart] kind of interesting. Oh, and the New High (M)art on Vermont, it's an artist-run fashion store.
For restaurants I like Trails in Griffith Park. I also like Speranza, which is a real architect's canteen in Silver Lake. [...] Oh and I love Musso & Frank design-wise and food-wise."
So what's next for Sisters of Los Angeles?
"We're doing this blueprint map that has most of LA county and some other points north. These new kites are kind of cool; they're more architectural with bright colors. [We'll also have] towels that feature the vertical stacking of color, and [we'll be focusing] on all the beaches that go all the way up the coast. And at some point we have to do all the ski resorts. Maybe next winter!"
· Sisters of Los Angeles [Official Site]
· Sisters of LA's Cool City-Inspired Merch Pops Up at The Grove [Racked]
· Eight Stylish LA Spots for Scoring Non-Cheesy Local Souvenirs [Racked]