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CLAD people

Moby musician and restaurateur

Project: Little Pine, Los Angeles, Us


Musician and restaurateur Moby – whose vegan restaurant Little Pine is approaching its first anniversary – has told CLAD that too many architects and designers ignore the needs of the people who will use their buildings.

In an exclusive interview about Little Pine and his design philosophy, Moby criticised designers “who think about stuff that can be photographed well, but who never actually plan on spending time in the spaces they create.”

“I have an issue with architects and designers who think about how the space is going to look when it’s on an architecture website, rather than how it’s going to feel for the people who either live there, work there or patronise it,” he said. “Sometimes certain things like comfort are not that photogenic, and if you’ve ever tried to live in a photogenic space that isn’t comfortable, it can be really upsetting.

“I had a couple of nights in Madrid staying in a hotel room that Zaha Hadid Architects had designed. It looked amazing, but was the least comfortable space I’ve ever inhabited. There was nothing soft in there. Everything was moulded plastic, which photographed nicely but wasn’t designed for humans.

“Literally sleeping in a dumpster would have been more comfortable.”

The design of Los Angeles eatery Little Pine – which Moby designed with local architects Studio Husto to present veganism in a compelling way – is intended to evoke a “simple and unpretentious mid-century Scandinavian ski house”.

Largely inexpensive and “nice but very, very basic materials” were selected and laid out in a semiotic way to create a space where people can feel comfortable. Describing the design approach, Moby said: “Humans like certain basic things. We like light and we like comfort and we like safety. And I think a lot of good design can be really compelling as design, but also meet the basic needs of the people who are inhabiting the space.

“The criteria by which design should be judged is ‘does it make people happy?’ You have to consider their practical and emotional needs.”

Moby, an animal rights activist and vegan for over two decades, donates all of Little Pine’s profits to animal welfare organisations, and the building’s design was developed to offer “progressive people a beautifully designed vegan restaurant that is probably more consistent with their principles than Burger King”.

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