2018 AIA|LA
Restaurant Design Awards
Winners Announced

+ 2018 Restaurant Design Award Winning Images

(For a complete list of winners plus jury notes, scroll down.)

Los Angeles, CA – April 6, 2018 – If  “farm to table” is a driver of contemporary cuisine, who sets the table, as in, makes place for it, literally, is also an essential element of the dining experience. The American Institute of Architects Los Angeles chapter (AIA|LA) is delighted to announce the winners of the 2018 AIA|LA Restaurant Design Awards program. A series of spaces that deliver atmospheres that tantalize while simultaneously adhering to demanding functional needs.

The 2018 AIA|LA Restaurant Design Awards Winners are:

Category: Restaurant (2 winners)

ATX Cocina, Austin, TX. Designed by: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. Photo: Casey Dunn
Jury Comments: This project presented design harmony—in all aspects and throughout. From the material palate to the
color palate, and just the way the space were arranged, even the selection of furniture. | This is one of the projects that really attempted to customize every aspect of the space. The ceiling detailing—it’s a pretty spectacular portion of the project, and, not only the curved ceiling, but even its flat portion realized a high amount of detail. | The red, this bold hue—the blue as well: this is Texas. | There are forty different items that are actually detailed, but they work together as a single project.

Frida Restaurant, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Designed by: Ezequiel Farca + Cristina Grappin. Photo: Jaime Navarro
Jury Comments: This project was a study in materiality. You don’t see the typical material palate. | We were struck with the stone they used at the bar and how that actually works with the contrasting stone of the floor. It runs up the side of the bar—that was a beautiful highlight. | It works well as a holistic project: the unification here, the architectural tie-ins, the pattern of the ceiling that is echoed in the pattern of the tile present a cohesive quality. | What really stood out was the architectural detail on the ceiling and the way that it was executed with the wood joists.

Category: Cafe/Bars (1 winner)

Jugo, Austin, TX. Designed by: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. Photo: Chase Daniel
Jury Comments: This project really starts at the entrance with the door handle, the pink wrapped metal. Right from the start you get a sense of levity and something different. | We appreciate the subtlety of every detail. When you look at each one separately it’s not significant but when put together in this tiny space, the architect really used the details to make this space sing. | It’s also an experiment in contrasts, but it still remains very subtle and tastefully done. The neutral tones of materials balanced by bright pops of color. The heaviness and finished quality of the marble counter top against the rustic wood base. | We liked the pink wrapped shelves—a very fun sort of playful use of color in the midst of a very simple color palate in the rest of the design.

Category: Lounge/Nightclub (1 winner)

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX, Los Angeles, CA Designed by: Slade Architecture. Photo: Tom Sibley
Jury Comments: Typically a project done with so many inferences to mid-century modern design would feel dated—whereas this feels fresh. | The details are taken beyond just the furniture and the sense of colors – the shapes actually feel contemporary even though they are clearly a riff off Saarinen or his ilk. | The treatment of every surface—from the way the ceiling slopes up gradually to the lights, the way the bar counter curves gently in on itself lend a contemporary aspect to the project. | This is a good interpretation of mid-century made modern. It feels youthful, and it is Virgin so it should have that sort of dynamic energy.

Restaurant Category: Honorable Mention (1 recipient)

Born & Raised, San Diego, CA. Designed by: BASILE Studio. Photo: Robert Benson
Jury Comments: There was so much attention to detail. We want to recognize that there was a lot of effort and design that
went into the execution of this project. | This really is sort of, over the top, all about luxury and the quality of materials and
the craftsmanship which pulls it all together.


This year the 2018 RDA jury was composed of architect Christopher Warren, AIA, LEED AP / Founding Principal, WORD; professional chef/kitchen designer Ron Smoire / Ron Smoire Design; and design historian, journalist Maile Pi ngel. The AIA|LA, annually, seeks a cross section of expertise on restaurant design for its jury. Warren’s design of the Little Ground Café earned the architect an AIA|LA Restaurant Design Award in 2017.

Winning architects and designers were honored at an awards ceremony on Friday, April 6, 2018 hosted by interior designer and restaurateur Barbara Lazaroff, ASID, at Dwell on Design, a design fair held in downtown Los Angeles. Lazaroff, who helped usher in a new age of restaurant design with her treatment of Spago, among other quintessential California restaurants, has remained a dynamic contributor to Southern California lifestyle.


2018 RDA People’s Choice Awards were also revealed at the April 6 ceremony. This year twelve tasty ‘finalists’ were selected by the RDA jury to be voted on by the public, who then voted online.

2018 AIA|LA Restaurant Design Award’s People’s Choice Awards Recipients are:

Category: Restaurant

Campfire, San Diego, CA. AERO COLLECTIVE (Architect) & Bells + Whistles (Interior Designer) Photo: Robert

Category: Cafe/Bars

Don Francisco’s Coffee Casa Cubana, Los Angeles, CA. Designed by: Omgivning. Photo: Emi Kitawaki

Category: Lounge/Nightclub

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX, Los Angeles, CA Designed by: Slade Architecture. Photo: Tom Sibley


Preceding the announcement of winners, designers participated the AIA|LA’s annual “Behind Great Restaurant Design” at Dwell on Design panel. The panel provides an illuminating and engaging look at the design process of each restaurant, café or bar, and jury thoughts on successful qualities in each.

Beverages for the awards ceremony were graciously supplied by Seedlip. These distilled non-alcoholic spirits solve the dilemma of ‘What to drink when you’re not drinking.’ Served in Michelin Starred restaurants, luxury
hotels and other fine establishments, more information can be found at www.seedlipdrinks.com

About the AIA|LA Restaurant Design Awards
Now in its, fourteenth year, the AIA|LA RDAs have served as a launching point for talented new designers who have subsequently establish themselves as innovative successful designers in the typology. Alexis Readinger, Assoc. AIA, of Preen, Inc. and Design, Bitches, Catherine Johnson, AIA, and Rebecca Rudolph, AIA, are RDA alumni as winners. RDA recipients have also included well-established architects realizing prestigious and popular restaurants locally, nationally, and abroad such as Montalba Architects and Belzberg Architects. Though the RDAs invite and celebrate entries from across the globe, the tenure of the awards program parallels the rise of Los Angeles as a culinary capital.

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Tibby Rothman, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Marketing and Public Relations
c: 310.994.1423