Ep. 59: Barbara Bestor

Architect Barbara Bestor’s childhood memories involve Brutalist architecture and purple carpeted stairs. She divided her youth between the East Coast, Germany and the Midwest, before venturing to Los Angeles, the land of sunshine and smog, to make her mark. Over twenty years later, her studio is responsible for some of the most culturally relevant workplaces, hospitality venues and experimental residences in the greater Los Angeles area. Now she’s thinking a lot about urban density and the 2028 Olympics. Listen:

 Portrait by Hamish Robertson

Portrait by Hamish Robertson

What is your earliest memory?

Apple picking in rural New England

How do you feel about democratic design?

I am all for it. We love doing projects that are open to the public, low cost and high design.

 A young Barbara, daydreaming (we assume about architecture!)

A young Barbara, daydreaming (we assume about architecture!)

BB24.jpg

What’s the best advice that you’ve ever gotten?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

How do you record your ideas?

Many Moleskine sketchbooks

 Albert Frey exhibition. Photo by Lance Gerber

Albert Frey exhibition. Photo by Lance Gerber

 Silverlake Conservatory. Photo by Laure Joliet

Silverlake Conservatory. Photo by Laure Joliet

What’s your current favorite tool or material to work with?

Pentel Sign Pen

What book is on your nightstand? 

On my nightstand: The Towers of Trebizond by Rose MacCauley

On my kindle: Less by Andrew Sean Greer

 Intelligentsia. Photo by Ray Kachatorian

Intelligentsia. Photo by Ray Kachatorian

Why is authenticity in design important?

It provides a counterpoint to the digital life—haptics vs plastics

Favorite restaurant in your city?

In Los Angeles - Cafe Stella

What might we find on your desk right now?

Trace paper, note pads, notes from a client phone call, Sonos speaker, a new book on Reyner Banham by Todd Gannon, and my design for prototype marble charging station.

 Ashes & Diamonds Winery. Photo by Bruce Damonte

Ashes & Diamonds Winery. Photo by Bruce Damonte

 Ashes & Diamonds Winery. Photo by Bruce Damonte

Ashes & Diamonds Winery. Photo by Bruce Damonte

Who do you look up to and why?

Eleanor Smeal - ratify ERA now!

What’s your favorite project that you’ve done and why?

One of my favorites is one of our most recent projects, the Ashes & Diamonds winery in Napa. We got to explore a lot of the ideas that have been floating around the office- how do we integrate landscape and architectural design (Bestor Architecture designed both), can we use straightforward pre-engineered buildings and create a luxurious visitor experience, let’s develop a contemporary design for a future-facing winery.

 Blackbirds. Photo by Iwan Baan

Blackbirds. Photo by Iwan Baan

 Blackbirds. Photo by Iwan Baan

Blackbirds. Photo by Iwan Baan

What are the last five songs you listened to?

Steely Dan: Dirty Work
Erykah Dabu: Bag Lady
Childish Gambino: This is America
Betty Davis: Anti Love Song
Sonic Youth: Bull in the Heather


Follow Barbara on Instagram and see all of Bestor Architecture's projects on their website, and keep track on their projects by following them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.


Special thanks to this episode's sponsor, COS. Keep a lookout for a special Clever Extra about COS and the Dorothea Rockburne installation at Dia:Beacon. You can watch a short film about the show featuring Dorothea and her work at cosstores.com.


Thanks to Tai Navares and Alex Perez for editing this episode.
Music in this episode courtesy of El Ten Eleven—hear more on Bandcamp.
Shoutout to Jenny Rask for designing the Clever logo.