AKASHA is a 5,100 square eco-responsible restaurant featuring a large bar, an attached bakery / coffee spot and two exterior patios. It opened in February of 2008 in the historic Hull Building of downtown Culver City, California.
AKASHA is the lovechild of owner Akasha Richmond, an artisan chef and popular author who has been catering to the Who’s Who of LA and who is committed to both the health of her customers and the health of the planet. The objective of AKASHA is to provide a great place to eat that mainlines healthy and ecologically responsible options for the diner, such that, the demand for such choices grows and imparts a culture of health to Los Angeles. In the words of Alan Schulman, Akasha’s husband, “There’s no point for Akasha to open a restaurant at this point in her career…that’s for someone who is in their thirties. We’re doing this to make a difference.”
As the design team, we used all local and natural materials to create a new sustainable identity that is unique to this project. Although not formally submitted, the project was designed to the LEED Gold Standard. The restaurant is located in what was originally a hospital. We maximized the industrial aspects of the space, the steel girders, wood ceiling joists and a historically fashioned board-form concrete wall, and added in comfortable, familiar materials that can improve with wear, like limestone, copper, hand-forged steel, reclaimed wood and subway tile. We deviated from a totally traditional project by pairing these elements with a mid-century modern aesthetic.
The bar is a French country farmhouse recreation done with a domestic limestone slab and reclaimed wood balusters. We re-created a hugely comfortable 70’s barstool design with organic leather. Lamps on the bar create great connective space. Recycled glass tiles made by Aurora Glass, a St. Vincent de Paul of Oregon charitable organization, wine racks and a library ladder complete the bar.
For dining, we feature hand weathered copper tables, organic leather chairs, and tufted natural fiber seating. Custom steel over brick arched windows open to the street and offer natural ventilation. Reclaimed barn wood textures the north wall, opening to a partially exposed kitchen. Six foot mobile chandeliers use low energy to light the space. AKASHA was the first restaurant in America to feature only fluorescent, led and metal halide lighting.
The bakery draws late afternoon sun and is designed for coffee to go and for relaxing. Steel and leather bolster couches pair with raw walnut cubes and sitting stools made of recycled car tires underneath enormous lampshades. Subway tiles accent the pastry prep area and are the backdrop to Akasha’s vintage cookbook collection. Historic Culver City photos explain some history of the space.
The patios have naturally farmed, sustainable, wood tables, great steel planters featuring lush native or native adaptive plants, retractable awnings for sun, and low lamplight for intimacy.
The water closets open by way of reclaimed wood doors embedded with vintage printer typesets. Environmentally sound paper wallpaper highlighting a woman’s figure emerging from foliage, graces a salvaged carrerra marble counter, hand hammered copper sinks, automatic flow faucets, and low flow toilets.
The build-out of AKASHA was featured in a one hour premiere of “Flip That Restaurant,” featured on The Learning Channel (TLC) in February of 2008.