Rios Clementi Hale Studios seems to be building a small empire at the north end of Larchmont Boulevard in Los Angeles. Out of the bones of what was once a “hideous” development, said firm partner Julie Smith-Clementi, the firm has designed a very modern mixed-use complex at 639 N. Larchmont that includes the firm’s offices, a store for its notNeutral home furnishings line, and a salon. The most recent addition is Café Gratitude, a Bay Area-based café that has opened its first So Cal location on the first floor.
The firm’s design for the L-shaped café manages to merge the building’s very modern feel (highlighted by large water-jet cut aluminum screens) with the vegan café’s decidedly crunchier sensibility. “We took their aesthetic and streamlined and simplified it,” said Smith-Clementi.
Hand-made concrete tile floors with organic patterning and a vertical picket fence made of tropical wood contrast with steel fittings and structure, and large expanses of glass. Tying it all together is a large white tongue-and-groove wood structure above the bar that acts as the centerpiece. The mix is still eclectic, like Gratitude’s original stores, but edited. Who says urban modernists and farm-friendly vegans can’t coexist?