5 design things to do this week

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This week, you can: choose DineLA restaurants for their design, learn more about the city’s effort to market surplus properties for development, admire high-tech Japanese fashion, check out sculptures of Mexican neighborhoods made of paper and cardboard, and speak out for saving LA cultural heritage sites.

DnA invites you to DineLA in style. Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse underwent a remodel in 2015, but you might feel like it’s the 1960s. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

1) DineLA: Top picks based on Restaurant Architecture and Design

Now in its 10th year, DineLA is an annual two-week long city-wide event promoting local restaurants and highlighting the extraordinary culinary offerings of a city with a long history of exceptional eating experiences.  If you are wondering if you accidentally wandered over to the Good Food blog, rest assured, we at DnA thought it would be fun to select our picks for DineLA recommendations based on the architectural and design merits of participating venues. Here are five we like with links to pictures so you can see for yourself:

Redbird in DTLA, in the old St. Vibiana Cathedral Rectory;

Rose Cafe in Venice, the longtime West side favorite reopened under a new partnership and updating in 2015 that mirrors changes happening across Venice;

Herringbone in Santa Monica, the Thomas Schoos-designed seafood restaurant originated in La Jolla, took a short detour in Hollywood at the old Asia de Cuba location in the Mondrian before dropping anchor in Santa Monica;

Nick & Stef’s near the Broad Museum looks so good, you might think it’s the original decor from the 1960’s, if it weren’t for the fact that it first opened in 2000;

Commissary Koreatown creates an homage to growing food in its greenhouse-inspired design, emphasizing the menu’s emphasis on fruits and vegetables and farmhouse goodness. (Speaking of flora inspired design, check out the Ana Serrano exhibition below call Homegrown.)  

You can find all participating DineLA restaurants here.

When: January 12 – 26

Where: Various restaurants throughout Los Angeles

Tickets:  All menus are prix-fixe, from $15 per person and up

2)  1,800 Parcels Up for Grabs: What to Do with L.A.’s Surplus Properties

With hundreds of acres of undeveloped publicly-owned land parcels, one would think that the city would have a ready answer to the current housing shortage crises: use the land to build more homes.  But it’s never that simple and the hurdles are many.  From questionable development conditions to ‘undesirable’ locations, what exactly is the potential for these land assets?

Hoping that developers and architects can help to unlock the potential of these properties for the public good, City Controller Ron Galperin has recently made available a database of 1,800 city-owned parcels for would-be builders and designer to imagine the possibilities.  

On Friday, you can join the Westside Urban Forum to learn more about the city’s effort to market development sites, and hear perspectives from affordable housing developers and architectural design experts on the potential for innovative housing prototypes to transform available sites into viable development opportunities.

Panelists include Ron Galperin, City ControllerShmel Graham, Director, Operations Innovation Team, Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, Lorcan O’Herlihy, Principal, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects and Kevin Wronske, Partner, The Heyday Partnership.  You can access the parcel map here.

When:  Friday, Jan 19, 7:30 am (registration opens at 7:15 am)

Where: Helms Design Center, 8745 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

Tickets:   $50 members/$65 nonmembers, $10 student members/$15 student nonmembers.   Pre-registration closes on Wednesday, January 17.  After that, the cost will be an additional $10.  You can register/buy tickets here.

Japanese fashion designer Kunihiko Morinaga is interested in making clothes that connect the science and human side of technology. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

3) Japan House: Art x Innovation Connecting the Future – Anrealage: A Light Un Light

A project of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan House Los Angeles just opened this past September. It’s a platform for creating experiences that represent the best of contemporary Japanese entertainment, art, design, fashion, technology and cuisine. Reflecting careful attention to detail, precision, delicacy and unbounded imagination, the gallery exhibitions and public programs will showcase creators using art and innovation to make work that alters our perception of the present and presages the future.

For its inaugural exhibition, the gallery brings in high concept, technological works from Japanese fashion label Anrealage and designer Kunihiko Morinaga.  The exhibition, “A Light Un Light,” features Anrealage designs on the theme of light, inviting new ways of seeing and integrating materials and techniques from illusions of light and perspective to photosensitive fabrics. Inspired by the experience of daily life in Japan today, Morinaga is shifting how we see, wear and think about the clothing of tomorrow.

When:  Opens Friday, January 19 and runs through March 21.

Where:  Japan House, Hollywood and Highland Center, 2nd fl, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90028

Tickets: Free and open to the public. More information here.

Ana Serrano’s brightly colored cardboard and paper plants and structures invites viewers to ‘live’ in her sculptures.

4)  Ana Serrano: Homegrown

Nature always finds a way.  With Homegrown, Ana Serrano highlights the juxtaposition of the built environment and plant life, depicting how nature inevitably works its way into city living. Serrano’s brightly colored construction sculptures depict the small plots of dirt-infused life that sprout into the concrete worlds of the Mexican and Mexican-American neighborhoods of her familial roots.  With a particular focus on the ways people create gardens and grow food within small spaces, the installation mirrors the garden-within-the-yard of the single-family home and recalls the store fronts and urban environments that provide the soil for family traditions to take root.

When:  Opens Sunday, January 21 and runs through June 3

Where:  Pasadena Museum of California Art, 490 E Union St, Pasadena, CA 91101

Tickets:  General admission $7, children 12  and under free. More information here.

For another take on domestic life, check out Welcome to the Dollhouse, a selection of works from MOCA’s permanent collection that address, document, or deconstruct notions of domesticity.  Curated by Rebecca Matalon, the exhibition opens Monday, Jan 22 at MOCA Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069.

Completed in 1950, the Musicians Union of Hollywood is located at Vine Street near Waring Avenue. Photo from Cultural Heritage Commission. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

5) Cultural Heritage Commission decides the status of two artistically historic LA buildings

Since its founding in 1962, the Cultural Heritage Commission meets twice a month at LA City Hall to decide which local sites deserve to become designated city landmarks, and to stay apprised of development that might impact the more than 900 already existing landmarks. The five members are appointed by the mayor, and at this week’s meeting (agenda [PDF]) there are two buildings that preservationists are raising a ruckus about.

There’s the Gordon B. Kaufmann-designed Musicians Union of Hollywood building (item #4 on the agenda), located at Vine Street near Waring Avenue. The planning department’s report on the structure,
Curbed explains, finds that the two-story commercial building built in the ’50s, with its boxy form; concrete, steel, and glass construction; and its bands of metal framed windows, is considered an excellent example of Corporate International architectural style.

And there’s The Woman’s Building (item #6 on the agenda), located near Chinatown on Spring Street, and between the LA River and the LA State Historic Park. The non-profit arts and education center was a haven for feminist artists from its founding in 1973 until it closed in 1991. The LA Conservancy nominated the building for landmark status, arguing that the facility “stood as a counterpoint to most major American museums, galleries, and arts programs, which routinely excluded female artists from their circles. Created by and for women, The Woman’s Building exemplified the impulse among feminists, including lesbians and bisexual women, to establish autonomous spaces outside of traditional, patriarchal institutions.”

Also nominated by LA Conservancy, midcentury modern architect Richard Neutra’s Chuey House, once a bohemian haven in the Hollywood Hills, is also threatened with demolition.

When:   Thursday, January 18 at 10 am

Where:  City Hall, Room 1010, 200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Tickets:  Free to the public