New Waves

Home Studios translates cinematic cues and architectural nuances into a surrealist design for a chic cocktail venue in West Hollywood.

Dream on. Los Angeles native Tait Forman is. The cocktail connoisseur and heir to the family behind ArcLight Cinemas recently debuted his first bar, Bibo Ergo Sum, across from the famed Ivy restaurant on Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood. His goal: Launch a nightlife venue that would pay homage to the silver screen and help revitalize Robertson Plaza, which had decidedly lost some of its Jet Age flair since its debut in the mid-1960s.

Bibo Ergo Sum | Home Studios

All interior photos: Courtesy of Home Studios

Forman tapped New York interiors firm Home Studios to bring that cinematic vision to life. Led by founder Oliver Haslegrave, the Brooklyn-based studio (which also designed the Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard), drew inspiration from the graphic symmetry of turn-of-the-century Viennese architecture and the modern curves of famed Finnish architect/designer Alvar Aalto’s work to create the venue’s dramatic proportions. The muted palettes of French new wave cinema posters and the innocent vibe of director Mike Nichols’ late-1960s film “The Graduate” influenced the surrealist look.

Bibo Ergo Sum | Home Studios

“We wanted guests to feel transported into a setting that feels both of the future and familiar at the same time,” says Haslegrave.

Bibo Ergo Sum | Home Studios

Oversized curvatures, a generous use of colored resin and references to the style of such Vienna Secession icons as architects Josef Hoffmann and Otto Wagner are apparent throughout the venue, which is named after the Latin phrase translating to “I drink, therefore I am.” The horseshoe shaped bar, semi-enclosed booths at each corner and high tables lining the walls accommodate a total of 80 seats—and intentionally, no standing room—for an elevated, exclusive feel.

Bibo Ergo Sum | Home Studios

To ensure each piece within the space fit the firm’s dreamy vision, Home custom designed every element but the chairs, including the teardrop-shaped, green-fronted sconces; the domed pendant lamps; the banquette coves, which are lined with pastel rose ribbed cushioning; and the bar’s showcase shelving system, whose soft contours recall art deco motifs. Those shelves are illuminated by an outline of tube lighting and display a backdrop of liquor bottles. Striped columns reminiscent of an Italian cathedral and bold curves that suggest mid-century U.S. entertainment hotspots such as Las Vegas and Memphis further play up the sense of escape.

Bibo Ergo Sum | Home Studios

The result is an illusory look that transcends eras, melding clean lines and balanced proportions that evoke the work of modern American directors Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick, lines that suggest the set designs of 1970s and ’80s Italian horror master Dario Argento, and colors that mimic the graphic marketing of such ’60s French new wave legends as Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut.

Bibo Ergo Sum | Home Studios

Haslegrave notes: “Everything from the rigid symmetry of the space, to the strict color palette, to the tinted lighting and glass, as well as the blacked out ceiling, are meant to create an experience as transportive as a trip to the cinema.”

Bibo Ergo Sum | Home Studios
Bibo Ergo Sum | Home Studios

Bibo Ergo Sum’s façade. Photo: AAmp Studio