The Incomparable Magic of West Hollywood’s Design District

The West Hollywood Design District’s website describes the area as “a cultural destination located at Melrose Avenue, Robertson Boulevard, and Beverly Boulevard, featuring high-caliber design, art, fashion, dining, beauty and more.”

Although accurate, this description actually undersells the vast, unique appeal of everything the district has to offer. 

This legendary style epicenter features over 300 upscale businesses, including interior design stores, fitness studios, art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, antique stores, spas, and fashion boutiques. These trendsetting establishments—conveniently gathered within walking distance of one another - attract tourists and locals alike, as well as paparazzi attempting to get a shot of the A-listers who frequent the neighborhood.

Pink Poodles and Cadillacs

Although not officially organized until 1996, the West Hollywood Design District has been an inimitable Los Angeles shopping destination since the 1950s. One of the earliest style pioneers in the area was furniture designer Phyllis Morris.

Morris got her start in 1953 when she created the “Poodle Lamp.” Designed in the image of her own pink-dyed poodles and topped with a flared shade, the kitschy lamp swiftly became a sensation. A photograph from the time captures the glamorous blonde sitting in her pink convertible Cadillac with the top down, the front and back seats crowded with poodles that were out for delivery—the lamps, that is. The two live poodles in the picture were not for sale.

However, Morris was about more than just lamps. At a time when streamlined chic was the mid-century trademark, she refused to follow the crowd and made her name with gothic throne chairs, elaborate end tables, and mirrored bars. Her striking designs evolved through the years but never stopped attracting collectors, designers, and celebrities. Even now, decades after her death, her West Hollywood flagship showroom continues to offer distinctive designs for people with discerning taste.

Endless Inspiration

Phyllis Morris set the stage for the legion of design innovators and fashion gurus that have set up shop in the area since, transforming the West Hollywood Design District into a choice destination for anyone with a love for style and a distain for the ordinary.

Not only does the WeHo Design District offer retailers like Lulu & Georgia, Restoration Hardware, and Kelly Wearstler, it also offers deep wells of inspiration for whatever project you may have on your own agenda.

The Pacific Design Center offers a complimentary Design Referral Service that can connect you to nationally renowned designers with the skill to bring your vision to life, and the exhibitions at the Center’s designLAb galleries will permit you to explore design excellence channeled through a range of disciplines. From architecture to sculpture, to painting, photography, and more, these creations will inspire you to find new ways to transform your own personal space.

Designing the Body

Of course, the West Hollywood Design District is about more than transforming your environment; it’s also about transforming the self. The fitness studios here offer classes with cult-like followings.

Playlist Yoga’s vinyasa classes provide a music-based workout “that ignites the body and clears the mind.” The young, attractive instructors will work on your breath and movement in conjunction with an in-house DJ’s “carefully curated playlists,” which combine familiar hits with cool new discoveries.

Basecamp Fitness takes a tougher approach to exercise with their 35-minute, high-intensity interval training. They even offer a free class to get you hooked on their adaptable fitness program, which is designed to push you to your limits, but in a good way. In Basecamp’s own words, “just show up, work hard, and you’re done.

For an especially grueling workout with a small time investment and a major payoff, try a 30-minute fitness climbing class at Rise Nation. Burn over 20 calories a minute in an atmosphere with the music and lighting of a dance club.

Classic and Innovative Dining

After all that exercise, you’ll no doubt work up an appetite. Luckily, the West Hollywood Design District has no shortage of exceptional restaurants.

For the possibility of paparazzi seeking the famous and the promise of superior cuisine, you should try Craig’s, the restaurant Jeff Ross once called “the Olive Garden for celebrities.” You will, though, need to make a reservation in advance—way in advance. Always busy, this Melrose hot spot serves more famous clientele than almost anywhere else in the city. Dine there once and you’ll immediately know why. The environment is chic but comfortable, the service is excellent, and the food is incredible. According to owner Craig Susser, “We have worked closely to deliver upscale American comfort food with a nice balance between indulgent favorites and health-conscious options.”

For something a little more casual and slightly less expensive, try Gracias Madre. This restaurant uses locally sourced, organic food to create vegan Mexican cuisine so luscious that even non-vegans crave it. But Gracias Madre offers more than just food. According to some of its biggest fans, this West Hollywood eatery is all about the drinks. Made from small-batch mezcals and tequilas, organic spirits, fresh seasonal ingredients, and house-made syrups, shrubs, tinctures, and bitters, Gracias Madre’s cocktails are delicious, refreshing, and unlike anything you’ve encountered before. One local favorite is La Quinceañera, a snow cone cocktail with kiwi, mint, lime, and, of course, tequila.

What - and Who - to Wear

There are enough fantastic fashion retailers in the West Hollywood Design District to warm the heart of even the most jaded shopaholic. There’s no need to even describe the wares. Just listing some of their names—Phillip Lim, Alberta Ferretti, Chrome Hearts, Curve, Helmut Lang, John Varvatos, Moschino, Christian Louboutin, and rag & bone—is enough. Their reputations proceed them.

But in case you were concerned that this cutting-edge elegance does not extend to the youngest people in your life—worry not. The Design District is also home to Bel Bambini, an upscale boutique for children, selling the best of toys, gifts, furniture, and gear for elegant little ones, as well as tiny, gorgeous clothing from designers like Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld, and Marc Jacobs.

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