Actress Anjelica Huston has always wanted to be an interior designer, and she finally got her chance when Airbnb asked her to decorate a pop-up "pod" in her Venice neighborhood, part of its Hello L.A. campaign to promote its global property listing and booking service. One of five installations around Los Angeles (others include pods designed by James Franco, Lake Bell, Molly Sims and Moby), Huston’s pod reflects her esthetic and commitment to sustainable design. Working closely with interior designer Orlando Soria, she chose mostly vintage furniture and eco-friendly materials to achieve a design that is classic and feminine.
"Usually you have to buy a whole house to decorate it. This is a microcosm," said Huston, who relished working with Soria on the pod. "I like things that have a bit of history," she said, pointing out the antique Balinese daybed with its "seriously comfortable and luxurious" bedding, and a Venetian chandelier, "a nod to Venice, Italy." In addition to the antiques, sustainable elements in the pod included a solar panel ceiling and recycled wood for the structure.
Huston, who was named PETA’s Person of the Year in 2012 for her work on behalf of Great Apes that are in captivity and being used in experimental research, was happy to report that "efforts to get them out of labs in New Mexico are going ahead," and that philanthropist/activist John Stryker, who operates the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Ft. Pierce, Florida, has bought land in the Virgin Islands to build another. "We’ll be getting more apes out of prison," she said.
For her next project, Huston has a book coming out in November. Titled "A Story Lately Told," it’s a memoir covering her early life growing up in London and New York. She’s already at work on a sequel that will cover more of her life in California, where she has a farm up north in Three Rivers in addition to her Venice beach abode. At the farm, her garden is planted with "everything that will grow: corn, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts."
Her love of farm-fresh vegetables made the alfresco dinner in her honor at a repurposed Abbot Kinney Blvd. parking lot behind the pod was the perfect way to celebrate her mini-abode’s unveiling. The restaurants Joe’s and Willie Jane prepared a meal using just-picked vegetables from the garden they share, including delicious heirloom tomatoes and roasted pattypan squash. Set to music chosen by audio company Sonos, the dinner reflected the California-French style of Joe’s and the Southern-inspired cuisine that chef Govind Armstrong ("Top Chef Masters") creates for Willie Jane.
Both restaurants lease space in the vacant-lot-turned-garden between them called The Cooks Garden, the brainchild of gardening expert Geri Miller (no connection to this writer) and her company Home Grown Edible Landscapes. Miller promotes the hyper-locavore approach, teaming up with restaurants to grow the produce they prepare, literally in their backyards. In addition to the Venice garden, "We’re looking for other lots to expand this concept into other areas," she said.