Inside Oakland’s New Balinese-Inspired Art Space Monkey Forest Road

East meets West in a new Oakland architectural space called Monkey Forest Road. This unique locale is part Balinese art gallery, part community coffee shop and part furniture boutique.

Larson Shores Architects designed the space with a focus on bringing the kind of light and texture one would find on the Indonesian island of Bali. With high vaulted ceilings, multiple skylights and the use of textured wood and tile, they created a Southeast Asian landscape in Oakland.

“When you are in Bali, there’s a sense of light, a dappled light,” says Larson Shores architect Joshua Larson. “We wanted to bring that quality of light.”

The dappled light in Monkey Forest Road is created by a layered wood shutter system on the outside façade of the building, which exposes repeating patterns and mirroring effects on the store’s large glass windows.

Located along Oakland's Grand Avenue, the building originally housed a bank. It had an eight-foot dropped ceiling, graffitied exterior and yellowed carpeting and walls. When Monkey Forest Road’s owners, Chris Cooper and Arnel Alcordo, first saw the building they weren’t sure it could become the Balinese-inspired space they were hoping for. But it grew on them.

Once Larson and his partner Carrie Shores got started on the project, they realized how much potential the building actually had. “We poked our heads up thru the ceiling and saw nine feet more of space,” Larson says. There were also hidden transom windows.

Besides raising the ceilings and adding the shutter system, Larson and Shores also added skylights, an interior courtyard garden and a multi-angular origami-like ceiling. “A lot of this is about how materials come together, and allowing the dimensions of the materials to come in,” Shores says.

The store has a complete coffee bar with pastries and plenty of sitting areas where people can linger. For sale is Balinese artisan furniture and art, such as polished petrified wood tables, glass terrariums shaped into pieces of wood, and sandstone plates and bowls.

Visit: Monkey Forest Road at 3265 Grand Avenue in Oakland.

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