This lady is the Queen of style when it comes to interior design inspiration from LA. Forget the long list of celebrity endorsements that follow like litter behind her name. Dana Hollister needs no head but her own to hold up these creations.
LA’s Cliff’s Edge restaurant and 4100 Bar in Silver Lake, the Brite Spot diner in Echo Park, Villains Tavern and The One-Eyed Gypsy in downtown LA all fall under her spell.
Go to any of these places and you’ll see the great spread of influence Hollister has in engaging – both within and surrounding her bars.
Tim Burton, Courtney Love, Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Arquette (Ahem!) are just some of those yearning for more. There’s sure to be several other LA interior designers hating or loving too – depending on their business angle.
You see, Hollister’s not content with just her creations enveloping you in their deep velveteen hold – she aims to enliven every sensual aspect within you. By tracking down the grittiest of places and shining them into gems. Think opulence, luxury, bohemian and baroque and you’re starting to get there. But that’s just the surface.
Her places are like cult film sets, with all the stars and moods and adventures there for the taking. LA nightlife would be incomplete without her.
She’s bought up and reinvigorated whole areas in LA – much in the same way she used vintage fabrics during her formative years as an interior designer.
We couldn’t wait to take a trip into her mind….
How long have you been living in LA, can you tell us a little bit about your background and what drew you to the restaurant and bar world?
I moved to LA from Chicago in 1984. My background was in styling and photography. I moved into interior design, and ran a very successful company, Odalisque, for a number of years. It was a natural progression for me to move from creating private spaces to public spaces.
I like to take visitors to my bars and restaurants on a sensual and sensory journey. Making a cocktail or a menu item is only a part of creating a great experience. What I try to do is envelop you in memorable surroundings to elevate your experience to the ‘extraordinary’.
Can you give us an example of one of the bar’s signature cocktails?
Our cocktail programs at Villains Tavern, The One-Eyed Gypsy, and Cliff’s, are constantly changing with the seasons and with the different things that inspire our brilliant mixologists. Right now, I’m particularly in love with the ‘Déjà Vu’, at Villains Tavern, and the ‘Bitter Pill’ at Cliff’s.
What are the current trends in the LA bar scene – what’s going to be hot in the next 12 months or so?
What makes LA so interesting is that there has been such an enormous explosion in cocktail culture that there’s no single big trend, but a lot of people doing very innovative things with drinks. Dave Whitton, at Villains Tavern is working on drinks with ‘shrub’. A ‘shrub’ is a concoction made from fruits and vinegars that adds an interesting acidic component to a cocktail and takes the place of the usual citrus. It’s going to be a big trend in the coming year, for sure.
As an LA resident can you point us in the direction of a few of your favourite restaurants and bars (aside from your own) and what make them so special?
I love Musso and Frank because it’s like stepping back in time to a gilded age of Hollywood. It’s been there since the early 1900’s. Nancy Silverton always astounds me with just how spot on she is, and her Osteria Mozza never disappoints. Animal restaurant always entertains me. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo make fine dining accessible, fun and surprising. Cedd Moses always creates great bars. I still love Seven Grand.
For any first-time visitor – where should they visit to the have the quintessential LA experience, without being too touristy?
There are many ‘quintessential LA experiences’, but to start with I’d suggest a trip to Downtown. It’s the most exciting part of LA right now, which is why I opened my bars there. The wealth of incredible historic architecture is amazing. A visit to the Bradbury Building is a must. The LA Conservancy runs some great tour programs, so check out their website for details. After that, I’d say dinner or brunch at Cliff’s Edge, sitting out on the patio on a balmy evening or a beautiful weekend morning, even in January – it could only be LA.
What are the hidden gems that only a long term LA resident would really know about?
The Philosophical Research Society is a library on Los Feliz Blvd. that houses books from all the various philosophies and religions of the world. It’s a great place to go and enjoy silence on a hot day. Nearby is Griffith Park, a wonderful place to hike and look out over the whole of LA on a clear day. Within the park is Trails Café, a great little outdoor café nestled among the trees. The Grand Central Market in Downtown is conveniently across the street from the incredible Bradbury Building, a masterpiece of Victorian ironwork, beautifully restored. You can gawp at the lobby of the building, then buy amazing chilis and spices, or all kinds of food in the market. And then wander around Downtown soaking up the incredible vitality and beautiful buildings.
What are you most excited about in 2012, are there any openings coming up that are going to reshape the industry?
I’m excited about a number of projects that I have in the pipeline. Notably, I’m turning a disused church in Silver Lake into a boutique hotel, with a restaurant. It’s going to be beautiful. It’s in early stages right now, but you’ll be hearing more as 2012 progresses.