For the newest location of Plan Check Kitchen + Bar (the first was on Sawtelle), the company tapped design polymath Paul Basile, of Basile Studio, to create the space on Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. A veteran of the San Diego design scene, Basile brought a warm, inviting vibe to the space. We chatted with him about his ideas for it recently.
How did the original location’s design serve as a guide for this project? Or was there a desire to do something different?
The original location on Sawtelle was located directly next door to the city’s Plan Check department. We referenced some architectural elements in the design, such as the compass logo and architect lamps, but we were also inspired by the imprint of the city. We used steel construction plates for our bar top that I absolutely fell in love with. They have this really unique natural scarring from years of being on the streets. Every plate is different so they don’t have all the same texture and the color is beautiful from being outside for so long. Not to mention the product is indestructible. The building is also a concrete structure so we wanted to incorporate that element which we accomplished with a super cool textured wall dividing the main dining room. Perhaps the most unique element inspired by the city of Los Angeles is the ceiling. At Fairfax, the last Plan Check location we designed, we took a vintage plot plan of the city and projected it onto the ceiling. For Downtown, we took steel tubing and affixed it to the ceiling for a very long and linear look—-this represents the more modern freeway LA systems.
What opportunities arose given the space was Downtown?
The coolest part of this location is the fact that the windows open so you feel like you’re part of the hustle and bustle outside. We created these massive 20×12 glass and steel windows which operate on electronic actuator. Basically you flip a switch that tilts the windows up so the inside and outside are one. The furniture is integrated into the design so they are permanent fixtures. We wanted to connect with Wilshire. It’s such a prominent street, everyone knows Wilshire, it’s on the cusp of Downtown.
Is designing for LA different than for San Diego?
I think LA is a bit more difficult because they have more “rules”. I think San Diego is familiar with my off the wall designs but LA has a look all their own. You definitely don’t see the really open spaces and indoor/outdoor dining as much in LA as down in SD. So I think the functional seating windows are an interesting surprise here.
For their new location, Plan Check’s owners turned to San FDiego–based designer Paul Basile. Photographs by Dylan + Jeni/Courtesy Basile Studios.