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.
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.
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.?
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.