How The Retail Designer of Roxy and Quiksilver Is Reinventing The Bento Box
Plus, a peek inside her Venice Beach pop-up!
Published Jun 9, 2017 5:20 AM
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Tatiana Barhar, a Venice-based architect and founder of Verdego Design, has officially made her team’s dream of having their own store come true. The Bodega Pop-Up, is a two-week curated retail gallery, which showcases an ever-changing cast of artists selling ceramics and homeware—and it’s happening this weekend in their Venice studio.
The team is known for their success with retail spaces such as Quicksilver and Roxy. Barhar’s passion for architecture, fashion, and photography, combined with her inquisitive attitude and community-focused mindset, is what makes her team of designers so successful.
We had the chance to speak with Tatiana about her personal style, the team’s newfound love for the bento box, and Bodega.
How do you define your personal style?
It’s definitely more relaxed than it used to be when I was living in New York. I like vintage and love designers that are coming up in California, like Raquel Allegra. I’m also really inspired by the Christian Dior show that happened in Malibu. It was such an inspiring show because it was a mix of the female gaucha with the desert, Argentina, and Uruguay, which is where my family is from.
Where do you draw inspiration for your work?
A lot of it has to do with travel for me. I travel tremendously, so it’s my greatest source of inspiration. Recently, I was in Uruguay, Paris, and Mexico. I’m always picking up things from our trips. Lately, I’m obsessed with bento boxes.
Did you design the Verdego studio?
Yes, it was one of my favorite buildings in the neighborhood. We designed the interiors. It’s a container building, and it was boarded up for two years, but one day as I was biking by and I saw a “for rent” sign on the building. We took over the building and garden and redesigned it. Since California is all about indoor and outdoor living, this became a part of us.
What inspired the design of your home?
My home is a celebration for families and friends. We live indoors and outdoors, so we have a treehouse, fire pit, and pizza oven. It’s all about bringing people together.
What types of projects are you currently working on with Verdego?
We’re wrapping up a luxury car rental space at LAX and designing a custom 6,000-square-foot architectural home for the fashion designer of Monserat De Lucca. Plus, we’re working on several restaurant projects.
Designing Oscar’s Cerveteca and Banh Mi Venice along Rose Avenue in Venice got us hooked on collaborating with chefs and has inspired us to delve deeper into hospitality. We are currently renovating the iconic Tony P’s Dockside Grill, where we’re designing a new waterfront bar along the Marina del Rey Ocean promenade.
We love dissecting things at all different levels to make it fun: When we get bored in the office, we create and design other things. Right now, I’m trying to put together this idea of something that would encompass a universal bento. We are also rethinking the idea of wrapping, and using materials like horsehair, leather, and straw.
What’s the secret behind your success with retail brands?
It really starts with the client and what the project is. With Quiksilver, they were working with a very tiki-Polynesian aesthetic and what we tried to do was question and challenge what they are doing and why. What we do is modernize what a brand is doing to make sure it is authentic.
I approached Quiksilver when they had six stores—it all started with a postcard. What we did back then was bring the lifestyle of surf and skate into a contemporary mall situation, all over a span of 14 years. I’ve done about 200 projects for Quiksilver, Roxy, and DC shoes. Back then, the idea of bringing lifestyle into a store didn’t exist, so we went to flea markets to buy furniture and to create a community space to tie into the locals.
Tell us some more about Bodega.
Bodega is born out of the idea of having our own store. What we wanted to do was design simple fixtures for smaller boutiques that could be aesthetically beautiful as well as changeable.
Bodega is about tablescaping, and bringing communities together to celebrate cultures and how people set the table, which is really dear to me. It’s about creating a lifestyle—we do entertain tremendously and that’s a part of what we’re doing with Bodega—inviting people to celebrate with us in our studio, which also happens to be a garden, office, and a store.
What is your favorite piece from Bodega?
My favorite piece are these vessels from an artist in England who makes beachwood boxes with nautical wrapping. It has this unique influence. In a way, it’s a different type of bento box.
Kuniko Yagi, chef and friend of Tatiana’s, will be creating ‘Bodega Bento Boxes’ for the event and will be available for pre-order and at the pop-up’s opening. BODEGA (at Verdego): 1309 Main Street, Venice CA. Opening night Friday June 9 (6-9pm), Saturday June 10 (12-5pm) and through to June 25 (by appointment). See more of Verdego’s work on Instagram.