Venice-based DEX Studio and principal Glen Bell return to their roots with their recent remodeling of two eclectic beach-side restaurants: “New Deli,” a vegan deli in central Venice, and “Vito’s Pizza” in the heart of Santa Monica. DEX also designed the popular Los Angeles Indian eatery Badmaash as the franchise expanded from its Downtown LA flagship to the heart of Fairfax this summer. The vibrant restaurant is the second collaboration between Badmaash and DEX, blending unexpected with familiar in its bold reach for a uniquely cultural patron experience. Known for his refined marriage of design and material, Bell approached each transformation with meticulous attention-to-detail in a standard effort to emulate the heart of the business and what it stands for.
Located off of Pacific Avenue at the end of 26th walk street to the beach, the multi-purpose “New Deli” is imbued with a Southern Californian lifestyle and serves a unique tapestry of plant-based foods and products. A modest palette of materials were employed throughout that were demure, yet well-constructed, with shelves arranged to filter the sun into the space. The setting sun can be seen all the way to the beach in the late afternoon, and as the sun casts on the storefront, striped shadows cast on the marquee - a nod to the former crosswalk that once connected the space to the beach.
Once inside, the hickory and steel shelves accenting the hand-glazed ceramic tile walls display fresh items and goods, while the Carrara marble wraps the food display and espresso side, further emphasizing Bell’s consistent focus on craftsmanship and materials. The shaded vertical garden space provides a cozy shelter to enjoy the food and conversation away from Pacific Avenue.
With “Vito’s Pizza,” the intention was to create a cozy, laid-back space or a quirky home away from home, without the sofas. Initially designed as a DJ driven bar, the space has quickly morphed into a neighborhood centric eatery with open ceiling and skylights that brighten up the restaurant throughout the day. The previous McCabes pub was stripped away for intimate décor including a long display shelves full of the owner’s curiosities & collectibles, wood details that nod to Danish modern cabinetry, and a back bar inspired by a vintage hi-fi cabinet, complete with shelves of vinyl albums and bookshelf speakers.
The restaurant’s recent transformation included a new exterior, with counters lining the large sliding windows that overlook Santa Monica Blvd. Sculptural steel and wood benches are mounted into the hand-made brick wall for patrons enjoying a slice, creating a social edge between the interior and the sidewalk. From the cabinetry to the collections in the space, the hand of those who crafted each element is apparent.
At the center of studios, boutique retailers and restaurants, Badmaash’s new Fairfax location has a heightened level of pedestrian and vehicular traffic as compared to their downtown location, providing a promising sense of exposure and revelation to the neighborhood and beyond. With an understated, yet quirky, exterior as per the owners’ vision, the darker scheme that introduces passer-bys to the restaurant contrasts the interior brighter palette, with a painted signage in neon overlay directly on the building’s façade.
Once inside, the eclectic design immediately captures a patron’s attention. The backdrop of the dining room is a rigid tapestry made up of bands of color that begin to break away and envelop the space, with a color scheme that plays as a response to the mid-city locale and the west facing space. The colorful motif is inspired by the effervescent energy that defines the Indian culture, and offset by the neutral tones of the walls and natural materials of some of the furnishings. Conclusively, the space itself became a balance of contrasts, playing on traditional elements like the paneled ceiling and hanging lamps intermingling with the bold backdrop, coined appropriately the ‘Rapture Wall’ by Badmaash Co-Founder Nakul Mahendro.