Design Dish: Auburn is the Best Color


The boxy white building on the corner of Melrose and Citrus has contained the dreams of many chefs. Now Chef Eric Bost has taken over the space, renaming it auburn and with the help of Jon and Maša Kleinhample of Klein Agency, washed the interior with a strong, simple aesthetic that allows Bost’s farmer’s market-driven mix-and-match menu–whose options nod to influences from his stints heading up multi-star spots in France and Asia as well as at Republique–to take center stage.

All photos by Nicole Franzen

The American-Slovenian husband and wife design team, who’ve only been in Los Angeles for a few years, met in Berlin, then moved to Antwerp. Their frequent dinner parties were legendary. “We would open up our shop once a week and host dinners,” says Jon, “within a few months we had a waitlist of like 3,000 people and we were getting offers to do restaurants and stuff.” Adds Masa, “We realized our attention isn’t just singular, it’s about creating an environment where it’s not just furniture: it’s space, it’s food, it’s how it’s all perceived.”

The entry and bar area

That vision is made manifest in the decor of auburn which feels less like a traditional restaurant and more like a house, offering different experiences in each of its spare spaces. While stark–the private dining room is the most layered room, with artwork from Berlin-based Eike König and slouched coil vases from Zhu Ohmu in Australia–it’s far from cold.

In keeping with Bost’s dedication to the art of the handcrafted and housemade in his cooking–nearly everything, including the bread, is made inhouse–most of the pieces are custom, from the lighting to the white oak tables and serving trays to the seating, whose pale vegetable tanned leather will eventually darken to a rich cognac.

The private dining room

One of the most serendipitous finds was the restaurant’s clerestory windows. “The whole ethos was to keep the bones. So before, it was very dark and we wanted to get as much light into the space as possible,” says Bost, “we also changed the front door and and that changed the flow and how people interacted.” Light floods the space from windows and skylights, bringing both a sense of warmth and of majesty.

With its delicately colored walls, pale, understated furniture and preponderance of natural textures, the space feels very serene. “That was intentional,” says Bost, “it’s the people that bring in the color and the life and the energy.” Most of the furniture and lighting, with the exception of the Neptune Glassworks lights over the bar, was designed by Klein Agency. Even the plates, which include ceramics by Patrick Johnson and Humble Ceramics, channel the thoughtful attention to the small details that elevate the experience of eating from merely feeding hunger to a full sensory experience.

auburn, 6703 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038, 323.486.6703. For dinner, from 5:30. Lunch in the next few months.