Barbara Bestor's California Style

Since founding her firm, Bestor Architecture, in 1992, Barbara Bestor has become one of Los Angeles’ most in-demand architects. Whether it’s a restaurant, retail space, workplace or residence, Bestor brings her signature aesthetic—one that is rooted in place and light. It’s an approach, perhaps even a feel that is redefining contemporary California design. Some of her most well-known projects include Intelligentsia Coffee in Silverlake, the Beachwood Café in Hollywood, Toro Canyon house near Montecito, the Beats by Dre headquarters in Culver City, and most recently Blackbirds, the groundbreaking, 18-unit residential project in Echo Park. (To read more about Blackbirds and how it fits in the larger history of California architecture, click here.) What’s more, Bestor, who graduated from UCLA and taught at Sci-Arc, where she also studied, is a faculty member at the Woodbury School of Architecture and executive director of the university’s Julius Shulman Institute. While you can glean a lot of insight into the architect from myriad articles and her book, Bohemian Modern: Living in Silverlake, we’re delighted to feature her in our Designers We Love column and offer just a little more understanding of what makes her tick. 

How would you describe your aesthetic? Informally modern spaces and structures, using a lot of color and material… I did a book called "bohemian modern" and I guess it still applies!

How did you get started in the business? I got interested in architecture very early on and interned in an architecture office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when I was in high school. I kept loving it, kept doing it… and here I am! I like the academic side of architecture—the concepts and ideas behind what buildings we make, as well as the practice and the huge amount of communication and responsibility it takes to get nice things built.

From where or what sources do you derive creative inspiration? Art, sculpture, fashion and cultural anthropology.

If you could reside on a Hollywood film set from any era, what would it be, and why? A friend of mine recently made an autobiographical movie Infinity Polar Bear about growing up in Cambridge and I found the sets eerily familiar and comforting. I guess nostalgia and memory are important emotions for me.

What takes a kitchen or bath from ordinary to extraordinary? It’s really fun to push outside of the “norm core” white-on-white defaults, in terms of choosing materials and color. I like to make memorable and beautiful environments that are also very particular to the client and to the times.


Laure Joliet, Ray Kachatorian and William Abranowicz Photos


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