Inspired Design: Fishing With Dynamite's Modern California Style

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Is there anything that says summer more than a glass of chilled white wine and a dozen freshly shucked oysters? I don't think so. Usually decor at the kind of casual places near the beach that serve up this quintessential dish falls into two categories: nautical disrepair or sleek modern. Not Fishing With Dynamite. The whimsically named restaurant gives you an idea, via its decor, of what your palate can expect from the food: fresh, modern and full of subtle surprise. It's a perfect blend of east coast and west coast styles, and delicious to boot!

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We spoke with David LeFevre of Fishing With Dynamite, the Manhattan Beach seafood restaurant, about its design.

In a nutshell, how would you describe your style?
For Fishing with Dynamite (FwD), I think it's a mix of East coast nostalgia meets a relaxed, west coast vibe. I really like how the cottage style blends well with pieces that are midcentury modern, as well as West Coast handpicked surf and skate culture items like the neon skateboard trucks we use as purse hooks on the bar.

What is the inspiration behind the design?
I have a lot of love for the east coast from the summers I spent on the Chesapeake with my grandfather, and since I have been in Manhattan Beach for the last few years, I have experienced the Southern California culture of the ocean and its abundance. I wanted to somehow combine the two cultures into one that represents my experiences with both. I wanted to show a love of the ocean, Atlantic or Pacific.

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What is your favorite element in the space?
I think the floor tiles from Kismet are probably the most surprising element for me. They really bring a bright west coast element to the design. Second would be all of the small decorative elements that we found at flea markets and thrift shops.

What was the biggest challenge in designing the space?
I think finding the fine line between east vs. west coast. Because of the amount of wood in the space and the cottage feel of the ceiling and walls, we had to make sure we didn't go overboard with too many sea-related items like buoys, or knotted rope, or anchors. So by using things like skateboard trucks for purse hooks, choosing Eames Chairs, and having the artwork reflect California and Asian culture, we were able to keep a nice balance.

Our Designers at FC Studios would say the size and configuration of the existing space was the biggest challenge. Additionally, trying to maximize the guest's visibility towards an ocean view. The space lent itself well to internally oriented views, so it posed a challenge to layer in outward views.

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What do friends say about the space? What is the most common reaction?
They love that it's sunny and you can see the ocean. We get a lot of requests for the names of the artists behind the artwork as well as the makers of the tiling.

Area where there is room for improvement/future projects?
I am working on being able to communicate clearly to the designers, artists, contractors, what my vision is and how they can work creatively within that vision. For FwD, I supplied photos of east coast sailors and fisherman as well as west coast surfers and skaters to help the team envision a thread through the east and west coast, along with other elements. I'd like to provide even more vision boards, and elements like playlists and quotes, for the team to have images and words to tie to the space.

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Proudest DIY project in the space?
The artwork choices!! They are the element that seals the deal for playful images and surf culture. It also cements the vintage and modern influences with a literal application.

Biggest indulgence with respect to the space?
The patterned floor tile!

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Best advice about organizing or incorporating tech?
Spend the money on the front end — it's more difficult to incorporate it and retrain your team later

What is your dream source for design buys?
The best sources are the one-offs found at local flea markets, galleries, craft markets and direct source sites like Etsy. There is an amazing culture of craft and talent out there. We are all becoming homogenized with our chain stores and websites where we can all buy the same thing. It is great to support local talent, bring a story to a space by collecting items from travel and experiences, as well as create a truly unique environment. Of course there are amazing stores and web sites that carry fantastic inventory — and we have to utilize those for the items we need in quantity and to withstand the rigors of commercial wear and tear.

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What are some recommended resources?
Furniture: Online- Craigslist, Modernica
Lighting: School house electric
Additional Elements: - Kismet Tile, Heath Ceramic

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Thanks, Fishing With Dynamite!

(Image credits: Laure Joliet)

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