Barbara Lazaroff: Behind the design of Spago Beverly Hills

Barbara Lazaroff Restaurant Design
The design of Spago Beverly Hills

In 1997, Barbara Lazaroff completed the new 11,500-square-foot flagship Spago, located in Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle. Spago Beverly Hills was consistently described as stunning and remains described as such even now that it’s but a memory due to Spago’s redesign.

I wanted Spago to have elegant bones with sensual overlays and adornment; a space evoking the feeling of an old soul, but with a young spirit.” ~Barbara Lazaroff for Interiors Magazine, 1998

Barbara Lazaroff’s Spago design featured exquisite hand-blown glass Italian chandeliers; a lush romantic garden with specimen olive trees, exotic flora, fountains, and glass doors on three sides that open to an interior filled with an impressive collection of art from Lazaroff’s contemporary collection.

Spago Beverly Hills
176 N Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

The Vision for Spago

The vision for the design of Spago Beverly Hills was drawn from The Flame of Life, the 1996 poem Barbara wrote about inner spirit — the importance of striving for excellence and living a life filled with purpose and passion.

The Flame of Life

The flame of life creates
the flame of love inspires
the flame of passion seduces our soul
the flame of compassion heals
the flame of curiosity & knowledge illuminates
the flame of friendship & laughter sustains & renews
the flame of hope is inexhaustible
the flame of the bounty of the earth delights & fulfills
the flame of life is a circle with no beginning & no end

~Barbara Lazaroff (© October 1996)


Barbara Lazaroff on a Spago Beverly Hills booth seat by some of the art she commissioned for her restaurant
The art collection Barbara Lazaroff displayed as part of the design of Spago Beverly Hills included a nine-foot-by-seven-foot Rosenquist, an abundant Jim Dine from his Venus series, a Picasso print, a multiple series of David Hockney and Helen Frankenthaler, renowned ceramic artist Anna Silver.

Also gracing Spago Beverly Hills were three Lowell Hererro original canvases, specifically commissioned by Barbara Lazaroff her the new Puck/Lazaroff restaurant. These three paintings celebrating the rich and robust traditions of the Italian countryside — Botero-sized figures working in the olive trees, the vineyards, and in repose among the apple orchard — were one of the focal points of the main dining room as you can see above. (Treat yourself to a larger image of these paintings.)

A 14-foot expanse of art glass, which you can also see above, exposed the chefs engaged in what one might view as a silent “la danse des cuisiniers.”

This location has always housed a big, beautiful restaurant, but Puck and his wife have managed to improve things. At the center of the sophisticated restaurant is the old Bistro Garden’s romantic patio, shaded by tall pepper trees. A fountain inscribed with the word “passion” (in various languages) bubbles next to a pair of 100-year-old olive trees imported just for Spago.

The masterful asymmetrical skylight, set off with colorful fused and blown glass panels, creates what Lazaroff whimsically refers to as the “temple of food.”

The amazing skylight ceiling of Spago Beverly HillsPhotographer Maxine Picard was having lunch under these skylights one day when she looked up and just had to capture what she saw. This is that photo — the ceiling and it’s skylights, as taken with no special photography setup. In fact, this wasn’t even taken with Maxine’s professional camera.

The dining room and patio of Spago Beverly Hills.The main dining room and the patio can be two distinct spaces and each has its own look, feeling, and appeal. But they can also come together to accommodate large groups such as in this setup for the Annual Passover Sedar (which benefits Mazon). Maxine Picard captured this well.

Barbara’s design of Spago Beverly Hills was showcased in Interiors Magazine in 1998. The link opens a PDF of the article in another window or tab. This page will remain open behind it. You can also read this article from Barbara’s Magazines Press page.)

Some photos of Spago Beverly Hills.

And here’s a look into the construction of Spago Beverly Hills

Spago Guests

Spago Beverly Hills was immediately a huge success. documented some of the happenings there:

    • “In 1998, Sir Elton John moved his star-studded post-Oscar party from Maple Drive to Spago Beverly Hills. This is an invitation-only event (dinner guests pay $1,000 each), and the only charity event on Oscar Night to raise money for an organization that is seeking a cure for AIDS.”
    • Billy Crystal celebrated his birthday there in 1999.”
    • “On Oscar Night of 2000, DreamWorks took over Spago Beverly Hills to celebrate their Best Picture winner, “American Beauty.” The place was decked out with more roses than you’d find in Pasadena, and party guests included Kevin Spacey, Thora Birch, Mena Suvari, Peter Gallagher, Kevin Pollack, Roberto Benigni, Val Kilmer and (from “The Sixth Sense”) Haley Joel Osment. Plus the DreamWorks trio of Spielberg, Geffen and Katzenberg, of course.”
    • In 2001, “Tom Cruise & Penelope Cruz had their first date at this Beverly Hills restaurant.”
    • In 2001, “DreamWorks decided to have it’s party at Spago the day before the Oscars, since so many of their actors were up competing each other for the awards (e.g. both Russell Crowe and Tom Hanks were up for the Best Actor award.)”
    • Also in 2001, “DreamWorks decided to have it’s party at Spago the day before the Oscars, since so many of their actors were up competing each other for the awards (e.g. both Russell Crowe and Tom Hanks were up for the Best Actor award.) At a smaller party held earlier at Spago for authoress Gwen Davis, guests included Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Curtis, Paula Prentiss & Dick Benjamin, Harvey Korman and Robert Stack. A book party drew out the reclusive Johnny Carson, as well as the late Jack Lemmon.”
    • “And in 2002, DreamWorks joined up with Universal Studios for a joint pre-Oscar party at Spago. Other recent celebs spotted here included Sidney Poitier, Cindy Crawford, Pamela Lee Anderson, Angela Bassett, Michael Eisner, and Liza Minnelli.”