Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy camping: Ultra Light campers on Silver Lake Blvd.

Ultra Light campers

* Upadated 1/7/12: Daily Candy profiles Happier Camper too.

Driving along Silver Lake Blvd. you may notice two colorful campers parked in the auto repair shop that belong to Happier Camper's Derek Michael.  Available to rent or to buy (the orange one only) the fiberglass campers are made to be towed by a car (both weigh less than 1200 pounds).  Interiors are compact but the windows and solar-powered fan keep them airy.  Derek is super-enthusiastic about his travel trailers that he restored--he's driven them to Yosemite, Big Bear and to beach BBQs.  You can too!

Colorful Ultra Light campers

Derek shows off the solar-powered interior.
More information at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Social smarts: Spacecraft’s nightlife designs

Back patio at Mohawk Bend
If you've been out in Hollywood in the last couple of years, then you’ve probably been inside a building remade by Spacecraft.  Founded by Kristofer Keith, the design/build firm is responsible for Hollywood spots like The Bowery, Kitchen 24, Stout and Boho, which recently moved to the third floor of Hollywood & Highland.
Excerpted from the September Los Feliz Ledger:
In August, Keith’s latest and most ambitious project opened: the 10,000 square foot Mohawk Bend in Echo Park. Owned by Los Feliz’s Tony Yanow and his wife Amy, the already wildly popular gastro pub features a crowd-pleasing menu with savory vegan and vegetarian specialties, and a changing selection of artisan cocktails from California spirits, craft beer--72 kinds--and wine on tap.

I beams frame Mohawk Bends' interior

Mohawk Bend now occupies a 100-year old brick building that once was the Estudio Theater—longtime locals may recall how it sat empty and decaying for 26 years. To use the building and meet current building codes, Keith essentially built a building within the vast space.  The exposed steel I beams framing the interior are not only a design element but meet a structural requirement.

Vintage beer signs at Mohawk Bend

Although there are retro touches, Yanow’s personal collection of vintage beer signs for instance, Keith purposefully avoided a fake nostalgic look. “I didn’t want something too slick either,” he explains. “So I went for something down the middle, an industrial but stylized direction,” he notes.  Custom built seating is made from plywood (also exposed); upholstery has a mid-century orange hue. The floors are concrete and the kitchen is open to view from the long polished concrete bar cast on site.

Dividing the back third of the vast room from the main bar and dining area is a 20’ high mosaic glass wall. The patterned glass wall also defines Mohawk Bend’s interior patio, lit by skylights and a concrete fireplace. The room’s exposed brick walls help create an urban, citified vibe. As Keith explains, he wanted the space to recall restaurants he’s visited in New York and Toronto that have taken over and enclosed a back alley.

Naya will emerge from Tantra space

Among Keith’s other commissions is an ongoing transformation of Tantra restaurant, also on Sunset Boulevard.  To be renamed Naya,  Keith is reconfiguring the Indian restaurant, creating an all white dining room and an adjacent lounge in regal colors. There will also be a back patio for dining.  As with all his projects, he stays away from theme-y type designs or a signature personal style that doesn’t necessarily translate to every assignment.  “I like to create a sense of place,” he confirms.

Mohawk Bend
2141 W. Sunset Blvd.