Designer Spotlight

Wendy Haworth’s Luminous Spaces Epitomize L.A. Ease

Wendy Haworth
In addition to thoughtfully layered residences, Wendy Haworth has become the go-to designer in Los Angeles for of-the-moment restaurants, from outposts of the Café Gratitude mini-empire to the Felix trattoria in Venice (photo by Mark Hanauer). Top: In the living room of a Mediterranean-style home in Brentwood, a Jean de Merry Tribeca armchair sits in a corner in front of an antique Chinese screen (photo by Nicole LaMotte).

Given the expertise with which L.A. designer Wendy Haworth channels modern, refined California design, you’d think she was born and bred in the Golden State. But she discovered her calling in Michigan, when she was in high school and dreamed up a 1980s-Soho-photography-studio-inspired space. “My mom let me design my room, so I got silver-ridged vertical blinds, ripped out the carpet to expose the wood floors, painted the walls white and decorated it with a photo light and a low, modern bed,” she says. “It was so minimal and didn’t go with anything in the house, but I loved it.”

This kind of independence has been a hallmark of Haworth’s career and design work. After college, she went into publishing, working as a photo editor at Vogue and Elle. “I learned so much alongside awesome people, but I didn’t feel creative. One day, I was on a shoot with a former House & Garden editor who was opening a store,” says Haworth. “We hit it off, and I started working for her as a buyer. Soon I was going on shopping trips to Paris.”

When the business closed, she moved to Los Angeles, working in the home department at Fred Segal and designing bedding at Matteo. Even before she launched her eponymous firm, she had her first project: redoing a Tudor home in Hancock Park for a former colleague. Her client, wowed by Haworth’s innate style and architectural intelligence, was soon sending so many referrals that, in 2014, the designer decided it was time to hang out her shingle.

In designing Winsome, a popular eatery in Echo Park housed in a 1960s–70s William Pereira building, Haworth kept the interiors restrained so the architecture and the custom wallpaper, reproduced from a watercolor by local artist Phil Dike, take center stage. The chairs are by Josef Hoffmann. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Ever since, Haworth has been creating artful interiors that balance classic European aesthetics with a modern West Coast spirit. What separates her work from current California trends are the anomalies within the textured, light-filled spaces — a French Moderne console here, a brutalist piece there — which create a sense of layering, history and originality.

This approach is informed by her journeys outside California, especially to such places as India, Bali, Morocco, Mexico and France. “When you travel, your eyes are so much more open than when you are at home,” Haworth says. “People in different parts of the world have different customs and ways of doing things. You see that and always walk away with something that sparks an idea. I like figuring out a different way to do something.”

Residential Projects
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Residential Projects
living room by Wendy Haworth

This Beverly Hills living room features a Charles Hollis Jones table and a Chinese cabinet from JF Chen. The planter is from Inner Gardens. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

bedroom by Wendy Haworth

For a bedroom in a 1950s Beverly Hills home, Haworth selected a Holly Hunt bed that echoes the beams of the vaulted ceiling. A custom TV cabinet with parchment doors stands at its foot. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Instead of a classic nightstand, Haworth placed a chunky dresser next to the bed. The sconce is from Lumfardo. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

den by Wendy Haworth

An L-shaped sofa is covered in a linen-velvet from Rogers & Goffigon in the Beverly Hills home’s den. The vintage Italian lacquer table is from Pegaso Gallery Design. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

patio by Wendy Haworth

Haworth anchored the open-air living room with wicker sofas from Brenda Antin and a table by Paul Marra Design. The block-print fabric was sourced in India. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

vanity by Wendy Haworth

Haworth created a custom vanity and stool to complement the glamour of the de Gournay wallpaper. The lamp is from Blend Interiors. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

study by Wendy Haworth

In a real-estate entrepreneur’s office, Haworth played with texture and tone. The vintage chair and lamp nicely cohabitate with the contemporary table, which Haworth designed. The sofa is custom, with Classic Cloth mohair fabric, while the walls are covered in grass cloth. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

home office by Wendy Haworth

A Karl Springer desk and mid-century Italian chair add curve appeal to the living room of a Brentwood Mediterranean-style house. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

For clients who owned a 1950s Cape Cod in Beverly Hills with dark floors that they hoped to transform into a lighter, brighter indoor-outdoor L.A. haven, Haworth started by paneling and raising the ceilings. She chose traditional furniture to harmonize with the architecture and then layered in unexpected pieces around the space. Thus, in the living room, a Brutalist chandelier floats above velvet-covered armchairs and an antique Chinese cabinet.

To add some glamour to the bedroom, Haworth created a vanity in the corner with a custom table and stool and a backdrop of de Gournay wallpaper. She infused the outdoor living area with English, North African and Indian references via wicker sofas, hand-blocked pillows, a kilim rug and a Moroccan lantern.

In a West Hollywood 1920s apartment where Marilyn Monroe is rumored to have lived, Haworth paired a lacquered-wood desk with a mid-century Danish teak chair by Niels O. Møller. The abstract painting is by an unknown Russian artist. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

In the case of a contemporary Mediterranean home in Brentwood, Haworth had to create a narrative after the owners gutted it to erase what she describes as a “nineties disaster remodel.” With not much to work with beyond the clients’ collection of contemporary art, Haworth let the paintings shine among curated pieces in the newly clean and graceful architecture. Case in point: The living room’s minimalist custom fireplace is surrounded by objects of varying shapes and scale, including a Jean de Merry Tribeca armchair, an antique Chinese screen and a Karl Springer desk paired with a midcentury Italian chair. Grass-cloth walls provide subtle texture and a seamless backdrop.

For Haworth, the magic is in the mix. “I like a ton of different styles,” she says. “The through line is achieving something that feels cool, timeless and authentic. It normally works when I see something I have never seen before — something that is just so beautiful in its uniqueness.”

If she can’t find a distinctive piece, she makes it. “It’s thrilling when you discover that one chair, but what if you need six?” she asks. One of Haworth’s particular passions is lighting. After looking in vain for a certain vintage lamp, she created the version she wanted with the California Workshop, a woodworking guild in Costa Mesa. In the resulting fixture, slivers of oak veneer crisscross under a white glass globe. The effect is vaguely Arts and Crafts seen through the lens of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Commercial Interiors
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Commercial Interiors
Gracias Madre by Wendy Haworth

For popular vegan Mexican spot Gracias Madre, Haworth blended classical Mexican crafts with modern California design. In the dining space, she created custom wicker chairs and tables, arranging them around built-in seating covered in fabric from Dos Gallos. She also wrapped some of the booths in vintage serapes. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Cafe Gratitude Arts District by Wendy Haworth

Haworth designed a slew of outposts of Café Gratitude, the California mini-empire of plant-based gourmet eateries. At the Arts District location, in downtown L.A., she matched the holistic, clean ethos of the menu with relaxed, harmonious design, including a white-washed brick bar with custom brass shelving, a wood-cut screen by the California Workshop, custom pendants by Heather Levine and pottery by Josh Beckman and FBP Works. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Cafe Gratitude Newport Beach by Wendy Haworth

In the Newport Beach outpost of Café Gratitude, Haworth kept the scene serene with lots of white and blonde wood punctuated with lighting by O’Lampia, an Eero Saarinen table and a bench covered in Kerry Joyce fabric. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Cafe Gratitude Beverly Hills by Wendy Haworth

Haworth channeled a look more elegant than earthy for Café Gratitude’s Beverly Hills location. The antique wood wall piece is from Lucca, and the chairs are Henry Hall. Pillows and fabric are soothing shades of soft gray and cream. Photo by Nicole La Motte

Felix Trattoria by Wendy Haworth

In Felix, an Italian trattoria in Venice, Haworth mixed homey with racy. She placed a vintage Italian chandelier in the cozy bar area and designed the custom bar stools and tile to echo its lines. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Felix Trattoria by Wendy Haworth

When designing Felix, Haworth played with the idea of a classic cozy Italian kitchen. The cheerful wallpaper from Hygge & West is a design by Rifle Paper Company. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Haworth infused Beverly Hills boutique Gratus with modern glamour. She found the vintage light at Lumfardo. The settee is Frits Henningsen, and the wallpaper is from Phillip Jeffries. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Along with her residential portfolio, Haworth dreams up relaxed but refined spaces for L.A.’s buzziest restaurants. For Café Gratitude, a mini-chain of luxe new-age eateries, Haworth created whitewashed spaces with soothing natural tones, earthy ceramics, handmade Moroccan tiles, linen pendants and macramé wall hangings. (The style has already been much copied in spaces across the city, from coffee bars to fashion boutiques.)

Gracias Madre
When working on Gracias Madre, Haworth took numerous trips south of the border for inspiration and sourcing. The bar is clad in tile designed by graphic artists in Oaxaca. She designed the wrought-iron lighting and bar stools. Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Haworth also designed the group’s first Mexican eatery, Gracias Madre, on a posh stretch of Melrose Avenue. She went on lots of shopping trips to Mexico, bringing back vintage serapes to cover booths and bold black-and-white tiles from artisans in Oaxaca for the bar area. She finished the space with antiqued mirrors, oversized pendant lights and patinated Central American objets she sourced in San Miguel de Allende and Tulum. The result is grand hacienda meets haute hippie Ojai hotel.

Most recently, Haworth partnered with chef Evan Funke to outfit his Felix trattoria in Venice Beach. Starting with the idea of an Italian grandma’s kitchen, Haworth layered in mod, sexy touches to balance the homey with the sleek. In the bar, walnut and brass shelving and graphic marble flooring offer a striking contrast to the oversize floral wallpaper of the neighboring dining room.

Although Haworth works with a slew of diverse clients on a variety of projects, she always starts the same way. “Whether it’s the history of a house or getting to know a chef and her food,” she explains, “I have to understand what the client is trying to say and how I can get the space to reflect that. I like to do a lot of research.” That includes staying on top of what’s popular. “I follow trends,” says Haworth, pausing. “So I can steer clear of them.”

Wendy Haworth’s Quick Picks

“This charming 1940s French table is from one of my favorite dealers, Xavier Nicod in Il Sur la Sorgue. I see this in a garden covered with potted plants and hurricane candles.”

“I first discovered Pierre Soulages’ work at a retrospective at the Pompidou years ago, and I have been one of his biggest fans since. His work is mostly black and white, but that blue coming through is sublime.”

“This Carlo Mollino floor lamp would add some whimsy to any room, and I love the stitching on the parchment shade. “

“Interesting chairs that can be tucked next to a case piece and covered with a stack of books are a great way to add some interest and extra seating to a room.”

“All I want for next Christmas is the Line Vautrin mirror…”

“This is a great bowl by Guido Gambone. I love work by him and his father, Bruno Gambone.”

“Such great details on this 1940s Pier Luigi Colli oak sideboard. Those legs…”

“Such a great, timeless Isamu Noguchi Akari lamp for a great price.”

“Carlo Scarpa is my hero. The elegant lines and weight of this table are stunning.”

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