Category Archive for Los Angeles CA

Stahl House LA tour: Iconic mid-century modern home! Los Angeles architecture, Beetle House Tim Burton restaurant.

tokyo fashion style portraits harajuku fruits girls street style outfit photography /></p>
<p><img src=

Pinch me… I’m traveling somewhere fun in a few days!

This will be my first trip since Portland in late February… and 100% in accordance with the B.C. government’s travel and social distancing guidelines. (I’m forever on the cautious side, when it comes to Covid… and I wish more people were.)

Can you guess where I’m going? Take a peek at my social media —@lacarmina Instagram, Twitter, Facebook — to be part of my journey.

(This Tokyo photo by Said Karlsson is unrelated, but expresses my excitement… and how much I miss Japan. Never thought the country would be cut off from me like this. Can’t wait to go back).

stahl house los angeles fashion blogger girl

But this eagle’s nest wouldn’t be a bad spot to spend quarantine, am I right? Seated in an Eames Lounge Chair, overlooking the Hollywood Hills…

Architecture fans, this one’s for you. When I was in Los Angeles last January, I got to tour Stahl House —  glass masterpiece of mid-century modern architecture.

To top off this fabulous day, I had dinner at Beetle House: a Gothic Halloween theme restaurant that honors the world of Tim Burton. Read til the end, to see me hanging with Jack Skellington and Edwards Scissorhands!

recreate julius shulman famous stahl house la photo

I couldn’t visit Stahl House without re-creating the famous black and white photo, taken by Julius Shulman in 1960 (there’s a shot of it further down).  Architect Pierre Koenig’s glass house has fascinated me for years, and I jumped at the chance to finally see it in person.

best views los angeles hollywood hills mansions

Don’t just drive to Stahl House (1635 Woods Drive), as this is a private property and you won’t be able to see anything from outside. To properly visit, you must book a guided tour well in advance, through Stahl House’s website. (Of course, this isn’t possible with Covid right now — but bookmark this for the future.)

Stahl House only offers a limited number of small-group tours, and they sell out extremely quickly (often months in advance). I messaged them to find out when the next month’s slots would be released, and got tickets on that exact day.

C.S.H. #22. case study house 22 stahl house

The narrow, winding streets have limited parking space, so you’re encouraged to carpool or ride-share, and arrive early.

I parked in the carport, and waited with anticipation in front of the C.S.H. #22 glass door. (This refers to Case Study House No. 22, one of the experimental residential homes commissioned by Arts & Architecture Magazine from 1945-1966.)

stahl house swimming pool, hollywood architecture

As soon as the guide lets you in, you’ll understand why Stahl House is an icon of American mid-century design. 

Built in 1960, this dreamy residence wasn’t a party pad for a celebrity. It was the beloved home of an ordinary family with three kids! Imagine spending your childhood waking up to these views, and plunging into the pool.

view from stahl house, famous mansion laurel canyon

In 1954, Bruce Stahl (Buck) and his wife Carlotta bought the undeveloped land for $13,500. They brought their vision to young architect Pierre Koenig, and he made this modernist fairytale home come to life. 

Much of the construction was DIY — Buck gathered discarded concrete from around the city, and pieced it together to make the foundation. (It would be impossible to build Stahl House today, as it would violate current zoning and safety laws!)

guided tour stahl house, booking tickets visits reservations

The afternoon tour lasts an hour. Our guide first let us wander and take photos. Then, we gathered in the living room to hear how Stahl House came to be.

Did I adopt a barefoot lifestyle in LA? Not quite. All guests must take off their shoes to avoid damaging the property. In addition, you can only take photos with a smartphone, so leave your DSLR and video cameras at home. (Good thing I had upgraded to an iPhone 11.)

julius shulman famous modern architecture photo, stahl house bathroom

Photographer Julius Shulman visited Stahl House in 1960, and snapped this well-known image of two women chatting in the corner at night.

Lauren and I had fun sitting in the exact spot as these ladies. But we also got a kick out of seeing the parts of Stahl House that are never photographed… like the tiny wallpapered bathroom! 

glass house overlooking los angeles, perre koenig case study architecture

Here’s my tribute to Shulman’s Stahl House photo. The angle captures the magic of lounging in the living room, which seems to float over Laurel Canyon. Clean lines and panoramic views… modernist perfection.

stahl house la renovation furniture bedroom

We got to explore most of the 2200 square foot house at our leisure. (One of the two bedrooms was off-limits, as well as one of the bathrooms. But we got full access to the kitchen, dining and living rooms).

Stahl House was furnished in collaboration with Design Within Reach, purveyors of modern furniture. If you’ve seen photos of my apartment, then you’ll know I adore these types of interiors.

design within reach dwr stahl house interior design decor

Every room has floor-to-ceiling glass windows, for mesmerizing views over Laurel Canyon LA.

We learned there were downsides to living in a”glass house” — the constant UV coming through the windows quickly faded the furniture and finishings. Stahl House had to be constantly maintained by the family to keep it true to its original incarnation. (The property is owned and managed by the three children who grew up here.)

stahl house kitchen fireplace interior home

Stahl House was an “open concept” pioneer. The stone fireplace divides the living room from the cooking and dining areas.

stahl house view, address los angeles famous houses homes

This Eames lounge chair and ottoman fits in perfectly with the glass, steel and concrete.

mid century modern architecture kitchen la hollywood

The minimalist furniture from Design Within Reach complements the white-oak kitchen cabinets. Stahl House is photogenic from every perspective; no wonder it has been featured in many movies and fashion shoots.

los angeles iconic modernism architecture homes midcentury

Watch your step, and don’t get distracted by the views… There’s a steep drop off the balcony landing, and no safety net.

Talk about “living on the edge!”

private visit tours stahl house pool

We learned that the Stahl children would roller-skate around the concrete decking, and jump from the rooftop into the pool… Ah, the carefree 1960s and 1970s.

visiting stahl house la design travel guide

When Stahl House’s reservations open up again, be sure to book tickets as far in advance as possible. There are limited time slots and each tour has maximum 20 people.

Our guide wasn’t sure how long the family would be running these tours for the public, or if the home may be sold in the future. If you get the chance to see Stahl House, jump at it!

outside beetle house la restaurant exterior sign logo

This inspiring day wasn’t over yet. We headed to Hollywood for dinner and drinks at Beetle House LA.

This theme restaurant tips its hat to the Beetlejuice movie, Halloween and Tim Burton’s cinematic oeuvre (but it’s not owned or officially associated with the Gothic director). Beetle House has locations in both Los Angeles and New York, as you can gleam from the grinning pumpkin logo.

jack skellington tim burton theme restaurant la

For fans of Tim Burton movies, Beetle House is a dream (or should I say nightmare!). A giant Jack Skellington in a Santa hat welcomes you to the neon-lit bar.

immersive theme restaurants los angeles, freakshow side show performers

At Beetle House LA, every day is Halloween. Prepare yourself for an immersive dinner theater, featuring live performances by this spooky crew.

(Could there be a better haunt to wear my “A Tim Burton Film dress” from Forest Ink?”)

Here lies Betelgeuse halloween decor lights

Every corner of the themed restaurant is filled with cheeky references to Tim Burton movies.

Here lies Betelgeuse. Dare to mutter his name three times in front of the tombstone, and see what happens!

Oogie Boogie statue, beetle house bar restaurant

And here rises Oogie Boogie, and Sally and Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas. (The purple lights and Gothic windows with bats add to the Burton feeling.)

all genders bathroom, unisex restroom sign

I spot skeletons on the wall, and an All Gender bathroom. Beetle House proclaims, “We are a safe place where every goth, punk, freak, weirdo, artist, and visitor is welcomed and celebrated.”

devil costume, beetle house dinner theater show

Quite fittingly, your host for the evening… is the devil himself.

Beetle House accepts dinner walk-ins, but tables tend to fill up especially on weekends — so I recommend that you make an advance reservation. 

beetle house menu, appetizers food

The $50 experience includes a tasty three course meal, and a theater show with rotating acts (who perform while you dine).

The menu includes cocktails with names like This Is Halloween (with pumpkin liquor), The Beetle’s Juice, and Alice’s Cup O’ Tea.

beetle house la nyc horror theme restaurant dinner

At Beetle House, the food is excellent, and presented with dramatic flair. We dined on Sweeney Beef (steak on a cloud of potatoes, with a drizzle of “blood” and topped with a razor!) The seared salmon with red pepper puree and sweet corn succotash is named Big Fish.

dante's interno bar, hollywood la theme bars goth

Head to the outdoor patio, and get swallowed by Dante’s Inferno Room. (It looks exactly like the Satanic hangout in Beetlejuice, where red-faced devil ladies entice the main character, played by Michael Keaton!)

The bar serves standalone drinks, with a focus on craft cocktails. You can also dare to drink the Hellfire Bowl, or take the 3 From Hell fiery shot challenge.

goth gothic theme restaurants performances los angeles

While we drank and ate, we watched immersive sideshow acts throughout the entire restaurant space. The performances are constantly changing; you may encounter magic tricks, contortionists, impersonators…

That night, we heard a song from Mrs. Lovett (played by Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.) Edward Scissorhands appears to be looking on in horror, at the balloon swallower!

bearded lady la performer

‘Twas an evening of frightful delights. (This bearded lady hammered nails into her nose, and then stuck scissors inside!)

mars attacks mask costume halloween burton costumes

It’s been a weird year… I’d welcome the brainy aliens from Mars Attacks will return to Earth, and take matters into their own hands.

gothic goth los angeles restaurant, beetle house

A last look at Tim Burton’s swirling visual aesthetic. Thanks Beetle House LA for an evening to remember.

Where would you prefer to spend your lockdown — at the modernist Stahl House, or a Halloween themed eatery?

Happy that I get to spread my wings a little, and do some travel this week… Add me on @lacarmina Instagram, Twitter, Facebook to see where I end up!

Los Angeles modern & Japanese pop art museums! The Broad LA contemporary, Deitch Gallery, Hajime Sorayama robots.

the broad museum instagrammable la walls photo spots

Remember when we could go out freely, and visit art museums with friends? Those were the days… I’ll never take this simple joy for granted again!

I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying my ongoing stories of pre-pandemic travels. Let’s keep on reminiscing about sunnier times, as we go through this odd moment in history.

In January 2020, I arrived in Los Angeles with photographer Joey Wong. We spent a day getting inspired at The Broad Museum, a hip collection of contemporary art that includes phenomenal Japanese pop paintings.

kawaii strange modern art japanese pop underground museum la

I also swung by the Jeffrey Deitch gallery to see “Tokyo Pop Underground.” This exhibition brought together eccentric works by Japanese artists including Hajime Sorayama — maestro of sexy robots, as you’ll see!

Both the Broad LA and Deitsch Gallery are free to the public. When they’re open again (post-COVID), I hope you’ll take the opportunity to experience them.

asian travel bloggers blogs, vancouver style influencers

I also wanted to share some “cheerio” news… I’m on the front page of Metro UK Newspaper, Travel section (May 4th edition)!

The United Kingdom’s highest-circulating paper interviewed me about my favorite insider Vancouver spots. I recommended the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Chinese gardens, and Twin Peaks themed restaurant (read more about this Lynchian venue). Come visit once our borders open again.

los angeles top fashion bloggers outfit posts instagram style influencer

Now, let’s teleport back in time to LA. This fashion shoot with Joey Wong turned out to be my last one before the coronavirus locked me down.

Art museum outfit details: Sheer panel top by Goth boutique Creatures Montreal. Leather miniskirt Jeremy Scott. Polkadot head scarf Lola Ramona. Sunglasses Edwardson Eyewear. Bracelets Hermes and Bulgari.

I adore the space-age Gothic look of my Alexander McQueen mini bag.  See more skull purses by McQueen below:

alina abegg alien rings, black diamond flower ring diamonds

A close-up on my current favorite rings. The dream of the 1990s is alive on my fingers…

In love with my new black diamond and diamonds flower-power ring! The Cosmic Escape alien ring is by Alina Abegg. Find it here, and browse more of her aliens jewelry below.

fashion blogger los angeles disney music hall photoshoot ootd

Before heading into The Broad for our reserved ticket time-slot, we snapped some photos next door at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

(Short polka dot skirt by Jeremy Scott, and leather platform ankle boots by Acne Studios.)

disney music hall futuristic downtown la architecture

Designed by Frank Gehry and opened in 2003, the Walt Disney Concert Hall has a design that resembles a musical organ.

(Downtown LA has plenty of space-y architecture. We also went into the Bradbury / Blade Runner building; see photos here.)

downtown la disney music hall curving metal reflective walls outfit photos

As an architecture buff, I simply had to stop by Disney Music Hall to admire Gehry’s curving, stainless steel panels. Poke around the exterior walkways, and you’ll find spaceship-like reflective walls that are perfect for fashion photography.

los angeles photography fashion modeling editorial photo locations

I didn’t go inside the concert hall that day; it’s the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Master Chorale. When the doors can open again, I’d love to see a performance here.

the broad architecture travel blogger guide

We walked back to The Broad, and took some shots against the minimalist-modern facade. Opened in 2015, the art museum immediately became a downtown LA landmark, thanks to its white honeycomb design.

goth DJ girl, jeremy scott polka dot skirt leather miniskirt

The veil-like exterior is cleverly designed to let sunlight into the museum.

Important note about tickets: While admission to The Broad Museum is free, you do have to reserve a time slot in advance, via their website. Be sure to book your tickets well in advance, as the spots can sell out. (There may also be an extra charge for some special exhibitions and events.)

You can alternately show up and stand in line, but you may end up waiting a long time, so I urge you to book a free reserved ticket online. (Parking is available in the garage, at a steep $17 US for 3 hours.)

The Broad museum, Jeff Koons, Michael Jackson monkey balloon animals

Founded by Eli and Edythe Broad, the museum collection has around 2000 contemporary art pieces by about 200 artists (from 1960 to today). The Broad’s interior is spacious, with tall ceilings and large white walls, forming the perfect setting for giant works.

Visitors can see quirky masterpieces by American artists like Jeff Koons. On the left is his Balloon Dog and Rabbit, and on the right is his Michael Jackson and Bubbles the monkey statue.

the broad museum american pop art tickets entry times

American pop art and photography take center stage at the Broad. You’ll find stunning pieces by Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Above, I’m dwarfed by the “Blue Red” of Ellsworth Kelly.

la free museums broad downtown la review

The works span a variety of sizes, styles, and media. Two of my favorites: Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Gold Griot” (acrylic and oilstick on wood), in his signature Neo-Expressionist style. And Jeff Koons “Tulips,” a rainbow bouquet of mirrored stainless steel.

los angeles kara walker slavery, the broad african american slaves

I was glad to discover works by women of diverse backgrounds, at The Broad. I’m standing in front of unnerving silhouettes by Kara Walker, which capture the painful memories of slavery in the plantation-era South.

murakami cute bunny kawaii characters Kaikai Kiki art

The Broad contains more than just American pop art. Japan packs a “kawaii” punch with multiple works by Takashi Murakami. I smiled when I saw his characters Kaikai and Kiki, frolicking amidst smiley flowers.

japanese art exhibit murakami demon devil

Staring down Murakami’s “Black Daruma.” The artist brings an anime sensibility to Japanese folklore — in this case, the lucky daruma doll based on Zen founder Bodhidharma.

takashi murakami rainbow skulls paintings japanese pop art

I’ve never seen skulls so cute or colorful. (You can see more of Takashi Murakami’s works here; I covered his exhibit in Vancouver.)

broad museum facade entrance skylight girl

For those who love dynamic contemporary art, LA’s The Broad museum is as good as it gets. Very happy I finally got to visit.

japanese pop artists postwar modern tokyo japan painting daruma

LA has a good number of art galleries and museum that are free to the public at all times.

One of the most progressive art spaces is the Jeffrey Deitch, located in West Hollywood. The open, industrial gallery features rotating themed exhibits; I made it in time to see “Tokyo Pop Underground.”

la hello kitty art exibit, Tokyo Pop Underground Jeffrey Deitch

Is Hello Kitty art? Hell yes, if you ask me!

Deitch LA brought together works by 17 innovative Japanese artists, working from 1960 to today. The gallery was filled with subversive pop culture, with an emphasis on all things cute and freaky.

hajime sorayama robot women, gold sculpture

“You’re wondering who I am… Machine or mannequin… With parts made in Japan — (Secret, secret, I’ve got a secret).”

Although I was impressed by all the Japanese artists, I was floored to see the fabulous fem-bots of Hajime Sorayama!

japanese sorayama robots futuristic metallic deitch projects

Love how the gallery displayed his feminized, biomechanoid robots. This looks like a scene from a science fiction movie… I was half-expecting one of the android ladies to burst through the glass.

hajime sorayama sexy robot female sculptures japan tokyo

The cold, curvy robots are 100% heavy metal. Hail Hajime Sorayama. (Google his name to see more of his erotic robot works; they’re a trip.)

Keiichi Tanaami colorful pop japan paintings illustrations

Keiichi Tanaami’s laughing spider also caught my eye. In the back, his psychedelic collages are a mashup of geishas, monsters, spaceships…

Keiichi Tanaami rainbow spider sculpturse weird japan artists

The Deitch LA puts together fascinating shows with themes like “All of Them Witches” and “Ai Weiwei Zodiac.” Til next time.

downtown la The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA entrance exterior

For more modernity, you can also visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in downtown LA. (That is, once a certain virus is under control…)

the broad architecture travel blogger guide

Such a simple outing — going to free museums in LA, and posing for photos — isn’t even a possibility right now. 2020 has made me realize to the bones that we should never put off doing the things we enjoy.

alexander mcqueen gothic designer purses bags skull clasp leather evening mini purse

Thanks to Joey Wong for the fab photography — hope we can shoot again soon, and get closer than 2 meters / 6 feet from each other!

(Close-up on my silver croco skull bag by Alexander McQueen. Browse more below):

black diamond ring flower petals, alina abegg alien jewelry

And a wave goodbye, with my go-to rings. The silver and peridot alien pinky ring is by Alina Abegg; get one here, and discover more of her space, planets and aliens designs below.

Walt Disney Concert Hall fashion show, models bloggers

Always looking ahead to a future filled with spaceships and stars. Take care of yourselves and keep dreaming, my friends.