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Designing L.A.

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Designing L.A.
Los Angeles–based architect Barbara Bestor may have been dubbed queen of her neighborhood after publishing the book Bohemian Modern: Living in Silver Lake, but her love of art and culture goes beyond any zip code. A nonstop traveler, Bestor works what she’s seen—bright tile in Istanbul, mud mosques in Mali—into bold designs that are changing the face of L.A.
David Zanziger
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    Where I Live
    Bestor, who grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, fully embraces L.A.’s dichotomies: world-class museums and street art, beaches and mountains, sunshine and smog. Though much of her work skews to the urban setting, she finds solace in nature. “I love the hike from the Griffith Park Observatory to Mount Hollywood,” she says. She has renovated several houses, including two of her own, in the eclectic Silver Lake neighborhood.
    David Zanziger
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    Her Own Home
    No material is off limits for designer Barbara Bestor—not even plywood, which she used on the walls of her own home (pictured here). The city’s contradictions play out in the polished midcentury bungalow, which has a kitschy heart-shaped pool. “I was looking at the property on google earth and saw the pool. I took it as a sign: I need this house.”
    Laure Joliet/Courtesy Bestor Architecture
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    Where I Dream
    Bestor lives in a world of patterns—big, splashy designs that cover every surface. “I’m dying to do an all-tile kitchen,” she says. “Something like Frida Kahlo’s La Casa Azul in Mexico City."
    Emily Chaplin Krug
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    A World of Patterns
    Elaborate motifs find their way into everything she produces, but her most recognizable work is likely the Sunset Junction Intelligentsia Coffee. The cascade of blue and white concrete tile—which instantly turned the cafe into an icon—was inspired by Istanbul’s Pandeli Restaurant at the top of the spice market, where Turkish food is served in a room full of patterns. “It was incredible to see tile used so expansively outside of a mosque,” Bestor recalls. “The textures it creates are just amazing.” The Fez tile she used became Granada Tile’s best seller after Bestor used it in Intelligentsia’s first L.A. cafe. ($6.58/tile)
    Ray Kachatorian/Courtesy of Bestor Architecture
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    L.A. Seen Through Color
    SOLA (Sisters of Los Angeles) began as an idea for souvenirs of L.A. The first question was: 'What is a logo for Silverlake?' The design is multiple patterns overlapping and they came out of a series of collages developed in my office. At the time I was watching the '70s film Reyner Banham Loves LA and it had a lot of smoggy sunsets. So the pallet is Ed Ruscha prints, smoggy sunsets, plus the natural environment of the ocean and the canyons. It is the city as seen through color."
    Photo courtesy of SOLA
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    Global Inspiration
    “I’ve been a fan of architecture since I was 12, so I have a big U-Haul of influences,” says Bestor. She unpacked some of them—Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi’s whimsical work, Italian piazzas—at the new Beats by Dre headquarters in Culver City but says she never “gets stuck in a particular reference set.” Bestor loves Bo Bardi's playful style, which you can see in São Paulo’s SESC Pompéia (pictured here).
    Pedro Kok
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    Up Next
    She adds to that U-Haul every time she travels too. She'll head to Morocco for her honeymoon next year, but Copenhagen is next up on her itinerary. “The city has a ridiculous amount of great design work,” she says. “Plus I’m very interested in progressive senior housing, and the Danes are on the cutting edge.” The trip will surely spark a few ideas for her latest passion: unsprawling L.A. Her new Blackbirds Houses subdivision in Echo Park packs 18 homes into a hillside lot using “stealth density,” a way to create dense, yet livable, urban communities without resorting to high-rises.
    Courtesy of Arper Spa