Otium, the restaurant tucked in The Broad’s Barouni olive-treed, 24,000-square-foot public plaza, quietly opened last week in Downtown Los Angeles. The sum of chef Otium Timothy Hollingsworth and restaurateur Bill Chait, a lot is riding on the eatery to enliven Grand Avenue and the Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Walter Hood pocket park.
Otium’s dining room looks west over Hope Street. (Michelle Park)
Designed by Studio UNTLD and House of Honey with building architect Osvaldo Maiozzi, Otium is a boxy, steel-and-wood-clad structure that owes more architecturally to midcentury mods like Craig Ellwood or Ray Kappe than to DS+R’s museum. The traditional California burring inside and outside drive the glazed walls and expansive patio seating. Farm-to-table ethos clearly is behind vertical gardens from Green City Farms on the restaurant’s rooftop that are ready to provide the chef with herbs, vegetables and edible flowers.(Michelle Park)
Inside the box is a large dining room and open kitchen. Windows look west over Hope Street, a view rarely emphasized up on Bunker Hill. According to the press release, the designers were tasked to compliment Hollingsworth with “sophisticated rusticity,” a phrase that looks good on paper, but jams in the mouth creating a lisp-like noise that is neither. A bounty of natural materials are plentiful: steel, glass, wood, copper, stone, nubby textiles, and ceramics. Or, as the PR explains: “The design is an artful mix of old and new, honest, and refined, that echoes the menu’s offerings.”
To link the restaurant to the museum, there’s an exterior mural in the works by artist Damien Hirst. Installed on the south facade and entitled Isolated Elements, 2015, it is an approximately 32-foot high by 84-foot long large-scale photograph based on his 1991 sculpture Isolated Elements Swimming in the Same Direction for the Purpose of Understanding, aka the shark in a tank of formaldehyde. It’s unclear if carnivorous seafood is on the menu.