Thursday marks the last night of the Jewish festival of Sukkot, much of which centers upon the sukkah, a temporary structure where meals are taken during the weeklong holiday. The three-sided hut is traditionally topped with palm fronds and often decorated with harvest and Judaic themes.
The word “hut,” however, doesn’t exactly describe the outdoor structure that some Angelenos build for the holiday. Many are now creating grand outdoor rooms designed for celebrating the holiday on the large scale.
For art collector and Hammer Museum board member Rosette Delug, her sukkah initially housed 10 people for dinner. “Now I’ll have 50 people over for dinner,” says Delug. “Getting the sukkah up for that takes many days and involves many, many people. It’s a major production now, with high-tech lighting, furniture, heaters -- a lot goes into it.”
One thing that hasn’t changed with Delug’s supersized sukkot is the palm-frond roofing. “The roof is always made of palm fronds, and you’re supposed to be able to see the stars through it. It’s a celebration of the harvest, and the sukkot is a temporary building that symbolizes the impermanence of everything.”
In Los Angeles, A-list interior designers are also getting involved. David Dalton isn’t Jewish, but building temporary sukkots has become an annual project for the interior designer. “The first one I did was six years ago; now every year I create these structures for clients,” says Dalton, who often themes the outdoor rooms. “One year I did a Chinese New Year approach with paper lanterns and lots of color, twice I’ve done an Indian wedding look with marigolds hanging from the ceiling. One year it was all about very exotic flowers.”
This year, for his Beverly Hills clients, Dalton says he created a Moroccan-feeling outdoor room, complete with dining furniture, table lighting, and more than 500 candles. “It takes about 45 minutes just to light all them, but the look is amazing.”