The Fig House; A New Project

Oh, friends. Friends, friends, friends, friends, friends. I’ve been working on a secret project in LA that can now be announced. It’s very exciting. It’s very challenging. It’s totally engrossing. It’s The Fig House.

The Fig House

Boom. There she is. It’s my first venture into non-residential design and it’s Steve Fortunato’s (from Room Forty) next venture into the restaurant and hospitality world. Also, please note his name. Steve FORTUNATO. Of COURSE I said yes. But it took me a second. Here’s how it went down.

Steve emailed and asked if I was interested in doing an event space. I said “nope” to myself, but then replied, “Hi! I’d love more details!” As you do. But instead of doing it over email, he asked me for coffee. In my mind I was like, I don’t do clubs – I hate clubs actually — and I don’t do commercial spaces, so this could be a waste of an hour, but he sounds nice and his name is Steve Fortunato and maybe it will be interesting, besides I’m also hungry and he’ll probably buy me an egg or two, or a smoothie, one with the organic berries … and a coffee, nay, a latte, I mean his name is Steve Fortunato

Steve Fortunato

So we sat down and I had every intention of saying sorry, I’m too busy right now, but then he told me about the project, showed me his ideas, and told me that I could take total (almost) creative control over a 10,000 square foot event space in LA. I told him that that sounded awesome, but that I didn’t know commercial codes; I don’t know or necessarily care about ergonomics; I don’t know how to disguise air conditioning ducts; I don’t even do renderings. But then he said, ‘We’ll have a project manager (we hired the amazing Dean Fisher from South Social and Home), an architect, and a renderer (Ginny, I love you) with experience to advise on all of it and you are just the visionary, the creative.”

OK, sure. Sounds *@%$ing awesome.

That was two months ago and since then we have been meeting every week, devising the plan, playing with mood boards, sketching stuff out, and shopping a lot. But we couldn’t really do anything until yesterday when Steve finally took ownership of the building in Highland Park. And now it. is. on.

The Fig House is going to be a space you can rent for parties, weddings, photo shoots, book signings … pretty much anything you want to. You could have a huge dinner party there, a screening of a film, premiere party, or use it to propose to your lady. It’s rented out per night, and it’s whatever you want it to be.

My job is to design a space that people want to party in, and I like to party. I know what spaces I like to dine/drink in and there just aren’t enough of them in LA. We go to the same spots over and over, Little Doms, Black Cat (food isn’t even that good, but design/ambiance-wise it’s great), Cafe and Bar Stella, Cliff’s Edge, etc. Sure, these all just happen to be in my neighborhood, but they also have elements that I love:

1. They have a specific point of view design-wise. Nothing generic; you can feel the creativity and sense the intention when you are in them.

2. They have a lot of exciting moments; weird vintage furniture, surprising contemporary art, beautiful lighting, awesome wallpaper. When you look around you don’t see the same staid architecture, the same boring black and white photographs, the same same same same, blah blah blah … it’s interesting.

3. They are warm and inviting, yet sophisticated and refined.  You could be in black tie or board shorts and feel comfortable. Donald Trump, Chloe Sevigny, and Selma Hayek could all feel comfortable there. Everyone feels like it’s “their place” and that, my friends, is a HARD mix.

4. They care but don’t “try too hard.” You know what I mean.

That’s what I’m trying to create, that is my goal. No pressure, at all. But whenever I freak out about it I just think: Would I want to sit in that chair? Would I want to look at that light? Would I want to be surrounded by that color? And if the answer is yes, then I move forward, and if the answer is eh, then I don’t.

Myself and my friends are the hardest judging restaurant goers out there — not snobs, just picky — huge difference.  So if I can design a space that I love to hang out in and one that I think my friends will love, then I’m hopeful, nay, confident that other people will be drawn to it, too. (Right, RIGHT?)

So what is it going to look like? More importantly, what is it going to feel like. Well today it’s just some sneak peeks but it’s going to feel a little bit like this:

Fig House Moodboard

Fig House Moodboard

Fig House Artwork


Except with a decent amount of warmth through some wood cladding (not rustic, more refined) and of course vintage furniture from my favorite decades: the ’30s, the ’60s, and ’70s with a color palette that is timeless but certainly has hits of the oh-so-bright ’80s.

And you want to know one of the most exciting parts? I’ve collaborated with Danielle Krysa (THE JEALOUS CURATOR) to curate all the art. That’s right. She is going to take the art to a level I can’t because she’s an art expert, has tons of connections, and is a total visionary. (If you are interested in submitting pieces and/or to get more information about the art side of the project — paintings, drawings, collages, photography, sculptures, and even murals — email Danielle Krysa at contact – at –  She already has some totally amazing artists involved, and all art will be for sale, and yes the artists will take home a high chunk of the price tag — still figuring out details.

That goes for furniture and lighting designers, too. I’m sourcing a ton of vintage furniture, but we are really trying to embrace the California community and the creativity that we have here and now. So if you design amazing planters, wallpaper, chandeliers, dining tables, chairs, sofas, side tables, ANYTHING submit your work. Obviously we are only looking for the right fit and it all has to fit into the master design plan (and work with our tight budget), but for the right designers it could be an interesting partnership — and you know there will be a ton of promotion on this blog as well as permanent “support/collaborator” spot on The Fig House blog.

So get ready, folks, because you are about to witness the building of The Fig House. I’ll be blogging about the whole thing here as well as the Fig House blog (different content, different pictures) and you can also follow The Fig House on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and follow my pin board that will have my inspiration and photos of what is happening over there.

Meanwhile wanna see what it looks like right now? Hop on over to The Fig House blog to see what I have to turn into a place that we all want to hang out in …

  1. I am so excited to see the progress on this! Sounds amazing! Congratulations Emily!

  2. Zella

    So exciting – congrats! Can’t wait to follow this project and check out the space once done.

  3. Congrats Emily! This sounds like an amazing project and I can’t wait to enjoy your progress and posts! Hope you’re pouring champagne!

  4. so very very very cool!
    can’t wait to keep up with the progress

  5. It’s going to be freaking awesome! Congrats!

    • Emily

      AH, thanks Kristen. Its totally insane. i could use your expertise. xx

  6. scott

    this is gonna be a LA party game changer!! i am so excited to live it up at fig house!! cant wait.

  7. sue

    can’t wait to see the updates &, of course, the final product! what a talent combo (i love, love, love danielle’s blog!!!)… many congrats!

    • Emily

      I know, i’m crazy lucky that she’s on board.

  8. pepper

    Holy cow! Emily you are gonna kill this! Your inspiration is, um, well inspiring! looks like such an amazing project. Wish i could work with you!

  9. angie

    Seriously when does this open? I’m getting married in LA and we need something this rad! Please give us more details!!!

    • Emily

      Oh Angie, you are in luck. We are scheduled for mid-july, but for sure by September (and god, i hope way before then).When is your wedding? As far as more details – indoor outdoor space, full of color (but simple enough that things can be removed if you aren’t into them) and just generally lots of photo backdrops. :)

      • Emily

        Also, they are extending an early discount to people who book before its open. email me through the blog and i can forward you on to Steve. xx OH and congrats!

  10. Ashley

    Please post every picture of progress, you know we all love this stuff! Congrats on the project. What a cool name – Fig House, love it!

  11. flossy

    Oh Emily what fun! I love how you are really bringing art deco back. it all looks so fun.

  12. Jenn

    Super Duper cool!

  13. Amanda Kent

    cute pic of you two . way to go emily! another groovy project!

  14. sally


  15. tasha

    Kick ass! No better designer to create the space he envisioned… I want to party there :)

    Cant wait to see progress photos!

  16. Alicia

    Ah! What an amazing opportunity. You are going to kill it, obviously. Also, so excited you’ll be working with Dean! I’ve followed her blog for a long time now and just love her style. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

    • Emily

      yeah!! Yes, she is totally amazing. I scored. Thank god for her. I could go on and on and on. xx

  17. I love Steve and roomforty! This is amazing! I can’t wait to see it all come together!

  18. Azure

    Neat! So I’d love to hear the reasoning behind the name The Fig House. “Fig” makes me think of rustic, Napa Valley, Mediterranean, casual….

    • Emily

      Its on Figueroa street in LA. But that name is CRAZY hard to say, so Fig is easy. xx

      • Azure

        Got it! Makes sense now. :)

  19. Sounds amazing! What a wonderful challenge and opportunity for you. I’ll reach out to Danielle asap in case there’s any potential of us contributing. Cheers!

  20. Jamie


    However, don’t worry about trying to disguise any ducts if any end up left exposed: I rather like exposed ductwork (either left as galvanized steel or painted)!

    • Emily

      yeah, me too. it was just example of what i don’t know how to do. :)

  21. Lily

    This sounds sooo exciting! Loving your moodboard already and cannot wait to see the finished result, not to mention all of the steps along the way!

  22. I love the concept! But I would totally put a twist on the 80′s motif… 80′s Glam by way of Portland. Why not funk it up with a little Rough Lux in the mix. ;-) Just don’t go too hipster and it’ll rock! Why can’t I get my hands on a project like this!!!! Can’t wait for the play by play on the whole process. As a designer that’s trying to work my way into commercial projects too, I’ll be watching this one closely.

  23. Laurielulu

    Ahhh, so now all of you funny questions/poles make sense…..the wood clad walls etc!

    I can’t wait to go, sounds amazing.

  24. Laurielulu

    Crap….poll, what a dork. Broke my arm and looks like my brain with it….

  25. Ok this sounds amazing. Can’t wait to see it all come together.

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