Inside Los Angeles Institution Jonathan Club's Members-Only Makeover
The uber-traditional social club opens its doors to one of the city's hottest — and hippest — design firms.
This story first appeared in the Nov. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Putting hipsters at the helm of redesigning the strictly traditional downtown Jonathan Club might not seem like the most intuitive decorating decision. But when the 118-year-old social club's restaurant needed to shed its hunter-green, dated golf-club look for something more Soho House, Studio Collective was tapped to overhaul the sprawling space. This despite the design firm's résumé not including an ounce of private-club pedigree. Instead, the trio has worked on such projects as the Roosevelt hotel's The Spare Room and Brent Bolthouse's The Bungalow at Santa Monica's Fairmont hotel. Not exactly the stuff of a dress-code-enforced, no-cell-phone club that counts L.A. scions Gaylord Wilshire, William Mulholland and Norman Chandler among its former members.
"The directive here was to do something that would appeal to younger members but where older members would still feel comfortable," says Adam Goldstein, one-third of the design team. "This was about giving the restaurant a new suit while keeping the architectural bones of it, which we all love."
Out went the floral carpet, high-walled booths and amber-colored wood in the room where Edward Dickson and Ernest Moore conceived the idea to create UCLA in 1917. In came the salvaged oak floors laid in a chevron pattern, the open banquette seating and Italian lighting. Call it a hybrid design act, pitch-perfect with the club's aim to keep both the old-guard lawyers and new-school entertainment types paying those reported $325 monthly dues and as much as $30,000 for full access to its downtown club and Santa Monica beach location, where recent renovations reportedly have included a newly updated lobby, gym and spa.
And this might be just the beginning of an overhaul of the 13-story Italian Renaissance-style building, with its basement-level barbershop, indoor swimming pool, Ronald Reagan room, ballroom and more than 100 overnight member rooms.
In the past year, an herb garden was added to its Tuscan Terrace, its rooftop bar completely was updated by Studio Collective, and its ground-floor gift shop was replaced with a Brooks Brothers boutique.
"None of us are members of a private club," says Studio Collective's Christian Schulz. "But we really had to keep in mind that for a lot of Jonathan Club people, this truly is their second home -- or third."