Emily Henderson Header Image Emily Henderson

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 – thejealouscurator.com.)  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 …

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