But How's the Food? Ricki Kline Talks Bar Design in L.A., Part II

In part 2 of our interview with Ricki Kline, the designer discusses travel, his favorite local spots, and the inspiration behind his design of 213's next bar, the tequila and mezcal-focused Las Perlas, which will be located across the street from Cole's on East 6th Street.

Squid Ink: What are your initial inspirations when designing a new venue?

Ricki Kline: Travel really helps. With Seven Grand, that was product-driven, so we went to the places that have the product. We went to England, Ireland, and steeped ourselves in the whiskey environment. That place is a distillation of that.

[For] Las Perlas we traveled to Oaxaca; it was serious Heart of Darkness time, going in trucks down riverbeds. It's a lot of terroir in every label. It's also driven by a particular kind of service we want to do there, which is this really simple but clean, freshly made margaritas, where the juice gets squeezed directly into the margarita.

Quiet exclusivity: The Doheny
Quiet exclusivity: The Doheny
Photo credit: Francisco Arcaute

It'll also be the first place I've done that won't have any built-in seating. I'm going to do all loose tables and chairs, because I want that kind of flexible room. I didn't see any built-in seating when we traveled, especially a string of bars in Mexico City where they just crammed people in with small chairs. I want that kind of energy from people being in close quarters.

SI: What makes L.A. a great city to work in now?

RK: Well, we have this opportunity Downtown that no other city has. Also let's face it: this is where I live. Of course I'd love to work somewhere else.

Americana roadside bar culture comes to the L.A. Arts District: Tony's
Americana roadside bar culture comes to the L.A. Arts District: Tony's
Photo credit: Penden + Munk

SI: So what other neighborhoods do you have your eye on?

RK: That would be Culver City. It has an existing nightlife. People walk, the crowd is mature. And Palm Springs.

SI: What other places do you like in L.A.?

RK: I love drinking at old restaurant bars, like Musso's, like Taylor's. Those are great bars. I love sitting at the bar at Osteria Mozza. I like Steve Arroyo's places. I like drinking in Koreatown.

SI: Are there certain designers you can point to as continual influences?

RK: Not really. My work is so specific to the site and to the function, and also I really draw my influences from the client. I don't work in any particular vernacular. I can do a really simple streamlined clean modern interior if necessary.

SI: What other types of project would you like to do in the future?

RK: I'd love to do a hotel. Absolutely. It's got everything: public spaces, private spaces, corridors, gardens. A project that size I'm going to have to learn to play well with others; I can't do it all myself. I'm looking forward to it with eagerness and trepidation.

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