Barbara Lazaroff: Behind the design of Chinois on Main

Barbara Lazaroff Restaurant Design
The design of Chinois on Main

Barbara Lazaroff at Chinois on Main, Santa Monica, CA

Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff opened their second restaurant — Chinois on Main — in Santa Monica, California. Opened in 1983, this design has withstood the test of time and is still home to Wolfgang Puck’s ground-breaking Asian-French cuisine.

Once again, this Wolfgang Puck original French-California-Japanese-Chinese ranks number one as the most popular restaurant in town, with cosmic design by Barbara Lazaroff. This “quintessential California restaurant” is called the “most original,” “most sophisticated” restaurant in Southern California, a “unique showplace.”  ~Zagat Guide

Chinois cannot be ignored. In the town that invented the concept of restaurant-as-theater, this place caused quite a stir when it opened. ~GQ

Chinois is theater. And it’s no surprise, since its designer Barbara Lazaroff, designed stage settings in New York CIty. She has created a Fellini-esque fantasy of a Chinese restaurant in Chinois. California has not had a theatrical restaurant like this or, for that matter, has America. 
 ~Hollywood Reporter

Chinois was Wolfgang Pucks’s first foray into Asian cooking, and the home of many of his trend-setting dishes. His scrumptious Asian-French cuisine was heightened by Barbara’s innovative and sensual backdrop of Asian inspired design.

Small and rectangular, Chinois posed a considerable restaurant design challenge.

Once a sufficient kitchen space was allotted, Barbara created a sequence of areas that tricked the eye including a skylight in the ceiling and an elaborate orchid window.

The feelings of balance and flow inspired the distinctive Chinois “energy waves” and yin-yang logo design, as well as many of the forms including the curvilinear entrance partition, undulating bar top, flowing door and window millions and the tile motifs.

With a modern take on the traditional Chinese color palette, Barbara infused Chinois in a sublime fuchsia, celadon, and black creating a relaxed, yet exotic environment.

Chinois reflects Barbara’s feelings about space, color and texture both inside and out.

Immediately recognizable, Chinois’ exterior floods Main Street Santa Monica with a bright pink neon glow crowned with a pagoda-like triangular cap.

If the Land of Oz had a restaurant, it would probably look like Chinois – the host new L.A. dine-spot. The dazzling interior — a fantasy of mosaics work-of-art furniture and fixtures, imported Buddahs, cloisonné cranes — it the dream of artist Barbara Lazaroff. ~Vogue

Chinois on Main
2709 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405 USA

It takes more than imagination and hope to see this — and turn it into this:
Chinoise On Main before Barbara LazaroffChinois on Main designed by Barbara Lazaroff


Here is the decor that diners enjoy as they savor Wolfgang’s unique Asian-twist meals.

Here’s some of what it took to create the look, feel, and environment. {foogallery}

Chinois on Main also has a private dining room available for events.