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Behind the interior design journey of Soho Warehouse, LA

As we celebrate the character of our favourite city Houses, Soho House Lead Designer, Candace Campos, shares how local creatives and the building’s 1970s heyday influenced the design of Soho Warehouse

By Megan Murray

While we have many city-based Houses around the world, the industrial aesthetic and colourful past of Soho Warehouse uniquely embodies the spirit of urban life.

Located in a former storage warehouse, which later housed artists' lofts and recording studios, our Downtown LA club spans seven storeys, and has 48 bedrooms, and a rooftop pool.

As well as looking at its history for inspiration, it was important to involve the locality as it is now. Murals, installations and collaborations offer an insight into the Arts District, while preserved graffiti tags tell the story of the building's years of unuse.

Here, we explore how city influences are represented in the design of Soho Warehouse and ask Soho House Lead Designer Candace Campos for a behind-the-scenes look at its implementation.

History and architecture

As the building's conception was at the beginning of the Art Deco period, this era provided context when choosing vintage furniture. For example, upon entering the House, members are greeted by a beautiful desk sourced from a downtown antique store, which grounds the space.

Its original architectural materials also contribute a lot to the space, and most of the exposed brick dating back to 1916 has remained untouched.

'We didn't want to take away from the authenticity; brick is very purposeful and carries the history of the site,' says Campos.

During the late 1960s, the building was given a new lease of life as a recording studio and artists' lofts, later hosting names such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This 'heyday' of creativity offered a contrasting stream of inspiration for the designers, who channelled retro colours, silhouettes and lighting in parts of the House.

Local influences

One of the most tangible ways that the character of the area has bled into the interior design is in the graffiti that covers many of the walls after years of neglect. 'Even during construction, people would sneak in and tag the site,' says Campos. 'In the end, we decided to leave the graffiti, because it's part of the building's narrative.'

Campos says that the juxtaposition of the area's creative community and architectural landscape is reflected in the design of the House. 'When the property was first acquired, this neighbourhood was quiet and industrial - it's definitely developed since then. Our House has grown with the city,' he says.

Design journey

The first step in the design implementation is creating a test bedroom - even if the rest of the building is still mid-construction. 'My favourite part is dreaming up the initial concept and then designing our first model room,' says Campos.

'This is a really exciting part of the process,' she continues. 'You can get a sense of how your vision is coming to life. And as Nick [Jones] uses this as a first look at the House, it's crucial to get his feedback. He's very involved.'

Certain materials were chosen with America's western landscape in mind, such as terracotta and wooden flooring as a nod to Spanish architecture. On the rooftop, Campos says the California sunset inspired the colour palette: 'It's citrusy, light and bright up there, which also works well with the skyline.'

When it comes to picking a standout space, Campos says she has a special fondness for the Music Room. 'This is my favourite area from a design perspective. It has an amazing fireplace with silvery tiles, and the concept is art-led with wild, loud design features.'

Local creatives

For our Downtown LA House, we worked with more than 100 creatives based in the area, particularly on installations and murals to suit the lofty feel of the space.

On the Roof, members will find a black and white, single-line figuration mural from Swiss artist Blanda, chosen for its strident feminist message and bold aesthetic. While downstairs by the entrance, Obey founder and acclaimed street artist Shepard Fairey's graphic mural greets guests.

'The art team know the local galleries and planned trips to LA to seek out artists to work with. One of my favourite collaborations is a custom print for our day beds on the Roof and by the pool designed by visual artist Ethan Lipsitz,' says Campos.