This New Los Angeles Restaurant Captures the Glamour of the Silver Screen

·2-min read
Photo credit: Yoshihiro Makino
Photo credit: Yoshihiro Makino

For the designers Steven Johanknecht and Roman Alonso of ELLE Decor A-List firm Commune, Fanny’s, the all-day restaurant at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, is the kind of communal space we need now.

Photo credit: Stephen Kent Johnson
Photo credit: Stephen Kent Johnson

Within what was formerly the landmarked May Company department store, completed in 1939, the museum was respectfully renovated by architects Renzo Piano and the late Osvaldo Maiozzi into a raw, deconstructed campus. Yet the brief from Fanny’s managing partners, Bill Chait and Carl Schuster, demanded comfort, luxury, and a throwback interior that also looked optimistically forward, marrying glamour and industry in a way that befit its clientele.

To achieve this in the restaurant, located off the museum’s main lobby, Commune hewed to a color palette dictated by Piano and Maiozzi’s designs for the building’s more industrial viewing and gallery spaces, creatively overcoming that limitation through their material choices, studied references, and a sense of humor. “It was one of the more challenging things in this project,” Johan­knecht says. “But it was also what most excited us—how to hit this note that encompassed all of these different ideas.”

Photo credit: Yoshihiro Makino
Photo credit: Yoshihiro Makino

Inspired by Old Hollywood haunts like the Brown Derby and Perino’s, Commune developed a lighting scheme with the designer Sean O’Connor to visually lower the 30-foot ceilings, commissioning Atelier de Troupe to create curved, period-agnostic lamps for the booths. Sheer curtains by artist Adam Pogue reference the scrims used in set design, dividing the 10,000-square-foot space while allowing light to filter throughout.

The exuberant zinc-topped bar nods to Art Deco movie marquees, while the tabletops are clad in linoleum, which appears pleasingly anachronistic and feels like leather to the touch. It’s a considered execution that stokes the appetite as much as the imagination, fittingly cinematic in scope yet human in scale. Just don’t forget to make a reservation.

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