Sure, the Spanish-Mediterranean fare of buzzy West Hollywood restaurant debut Soulmate, helmed by chef Rudy Lopez (formerly of NoMad), is a major draw, but designer Sean Leffers’ vision also brings fresh fare to the table. Here, he dishes on Soulmate’s colorful, compelling interiors.
What was your vision for the restaurant? It’s a contemporary California design with Mexican, Spanish and Japanese influences. L.A. is a melting pot, so it felt silly to make the design about one thing—our culture comes from many cultures. Every step, I tried to think about the idea of cozy spaces. It’s a relaxing place to be in, especially at night with hundreds of candles going.
Tell us about the palette. It’s organic—yellows, greens, black, natural woods—and gives a sense of coolness. There are different zones too, like the greenery of the patio and the bar, where you feel cocooned by the wood paneling. It feels modern, with an interesting mix of materials.
Who are some of the artists you chose for the space? Santiago Quesnel did the desert landscape scenes above the ochre banquettes (at left); Greg Ito did the yin-yang landscape of the L.A. mountains; and there’s a neon piece by Adriana Martinez stating, Todo lo que brilla es información (all that shines is information).
Any favorites on the menu? Try the vegetarian fideuà, which is like paella but with noodles, and I love the churros.