Sophistication and style, from the ground up
It’s noon and the gated door to Spacecraft is padlocked. Looking through the storefront window of the design firm reveals a row of empty desks and a high-ceilinged lounge area stocked with design books, a black pool table and a marble bar. But no people.
Then Spacecraft founder Kristofer Keith pulls up in a sand-colored Mercedes, coming from final inspections at Pasadena’s La Grande Orange Cafe, his latest project. The furniture maker is already Hollywood’s most in demand restaurant and bar designer, but he’ll probably be spending even less time in his office in the next few years: “I want to corner the market on Hollywood and L.A.,” says Keith. “I gave myself 10 years to run all my competition out of town and take their clients. And it’s working.”
Keith got his start designing salons and clothing stores in Charlotte, N.C., before launching Spacecraft in 1998. Three years later, he relocated to Los Angeles, a city he considered “weak for design.” He explains: “I came out here with a multi-prong attack: Identify the players in town, find out what my competition was doing and beat them at it.” His strategy included securing a construction license, allowing him to “design-build, which nobody else was doing.”
Keith’s big break was designing prestigious French restaurant Ortolan (8338 W. 3rd St., L.A.,  653-3300), which prompted assignments for the Bowery gastropub (6268 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood,  465-3400), Cahuenga supper club Goa (1615 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood,  465-1615), and LGO Hospitality’s repurposed train depot La Grande Orange Cafe (260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena,  356-4444). Whether it’s Regency, Modern or Bohemian, the versatile designer enjoys the “creative escape” of “sculpting a room.”
Keith is currently shepherding two projects for Goa co-owner Adolfo Suaya, who calls Keith “a total genius,” adding, “I trust this guy so much that I let him do whatever he wants.” Across from Goa is Deluxe, an Art Deco bar set to open this summer. Stained mahogany walls and a green marble bar will be backed by a 45-foot stained glass mural. Nearby on Hollywood Boulevard, Keith is crafting Osaka, a Lima import opening this fall. For the Japanese restaurant, Keith plans a patio with 12-foot bonsai trees and an entrance that requires diners to traverse a pond via stepping-stones.
Kitchen 24, from the triumvirate behind Cinespace, should debut by May. For the 24/7 diner, Keith decided on pink-tinged booths and terrazzo for the floors and bar. He also has plans for Melrose, starting with a ‘70s-style bar and lounge in the recently shuttered Forty Deuce space, but first, he has unfinished business in Hollywood.