The delicacy of forms

Architecture, interior, graphic and product design: the creative expressions of Gulla Jónsdóttir and her Los Angeles-based studio embody a vision of the project driven by fluid, sinuous geometry in constant dialogue with nature

Gulla Jónsdóttir ©Erez Sabag
Gulla Jónsdóttir ©Erez Sabag

Every element shaped by the Icelandic architect is transformed into an artifact immersed in an imaginative universe: residential spaces, restaurants like the Red O in Los Angeles, striking temples of wellness like the Paz Spa at the Cabo Azul Resort, deluxe hotels like the Roxbury in Hollywood, The Mayfair in Los Angeles, Hotel G in San Francisco, The Macau Roosevelt… Delicate volumes that reinvent organicism.

The Macau Roosevelt, Macau

La Peer Hotel, West Hollywood

From mathematics studies to design. When did your passion for architecture start?
I fell in love with Architecture at the age of 12 when I was visiting Firenze with my mother. The Art and Architecture of the city affected me in such a way that years later I realized that Architecture was the passion of my life.

What was your first design?
I worked on the Getty Center Museum for Richard Meier & partners after graduation from SCI-ARC, and my first design under my own company name was the RED O restaurant in Los Angeles.

Who are your favorite architects?
Zaha Hadid, Santiago Calatrava, Herzog & De Meuron, Renzo Piano & Frank Gehry.

The most important element in your creative process is…?
How to respond to nature and the surrounding site of the project, always echoing the integration of organic beauty, and I’m a true believer in the first concepts that come to mind once I’m on that location.

How would you define your design vision in hospitality?
I’m interested in creating a defined luxury escape in my hospitaliy projects. I want the guests to experience the textures, the flow and movement of forms inside the hotels.
I want the spaces to feel as good as they look, and the guests and staff should feel swept away in every sense of the word. I tend to think out of the box, and I like to use natural unique materials that most connect with nature so the combination of spatial design with comfort and special touches throughout is what I mostly focus on in hospitality projects.

Cuff Chair 02

Hotel G, San Francisco

What is the design that best represents your vision?
Probably the proposal we submitted for the Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki.  The design is grand, yet feminine, sculptural and voluptous and it’s inspired by Finland’s national flower the Lily of the Valley. The second one, is a unique residence in Hollywood Hills, created as a love nest all made of curved wood.

Your creations blend emotion through sinuous lines and sensual geometries. What is your main inspiration?
Nature, Art, Human form, Mathematics, Fashion and whichever dreams I have at the time.

Your favorite materials are…?
Concrete, Brass, Marble, Natural stone, Wood & Copper.

Le Grand Restaurant, Paris

You have stated, “I design for all five senses.” How do you make it happen for hospitality spaces?
You only have one chance to create a first impression.  So the first impression is when you touch the handle of the front door of the hotel.  It should feel soft and luxurious.  When you enter the hotel lobby, you should be greated with a beautiful vision, a lovely scent created by flowers and candles and you should be encompasssed in soft sounds of music.  Once you enter the restaurant of the hotel, the food takes care of the fifth sense – taste.   Once you can achieve all five senses in harmony, you then can reach the sixth sense of bliss.

Fashion, painting, sculpture … how much do they come into play in your design?
All of them play a great importance.  For me, to get the artists, sculptors and fashion designers to create something special for the designs of spaces we have drawn, brings the spaces more to life.  You not only get the energy of the art itself but also the energy of the artist that created them.

The Mayfair Hotel, Los Angeles

How important is “genius loci” when you create? It is everything ~ its a game changer.  You have to have the right and positive spirit surrounding the project, the materials and the choices you make and the result will be a genuine, beautiful experience.

Among your creations, a line of jewels too… Can you talk about it?
I do enjoy creating unique furniture and jewelry.  The furniture is a limited edition collection I started in 2013, and the jewelry is a very small collection of sculptural gold and rose gold cocktail rings based on one of my Architectural forms.

What architecture do you dream of designing?
First, An Olympic stadium! – When I design, I tend to draw curves naturally, as there are no straight lines in a human body, why should we live in a straight box? So to create a space surrounding human forms peaking at excellence in sports, would be a dream come true. Second, A Museum.  A beautiful sculptural museum holding my favorite subject: ART.

What design are you creating right now?
A new hotel in Miami, Thompson hotel in South Beach, 150 rooms with an amazing rooftop and 2 signature restaurants. The tallest residential tower in the Arts District of Downtown LA, 520 Mateo. A 1700 square meter Private Residence in Beverly Hills. Esperanza, a very chic restaurant in Manhattan beach. A new restaurant at Westfield shopping mall in Los Angeles. Yamashiro the restaurant renovation, Hollywood Hills. And we just completed two other residential towers, two restaurants and a theater.