30 November 2009

Behind the San Diego Red Rope with Davis Ink Ltd.

The greatest success is often unplanned.

For Davis Krumins, the brilliant designer behind some of San Diego's hottest venues and founder of Davis Ink Ltd., unexpected success is realized on many levels.

Whether it's the way in which he ventured off on his own, or how his designs coalesce, Davis' ascension in the world of commercial design has depended heavily on a strict adherence to ... going with the flow.

Davis' impact on the San Diego nightlife scene began with a casual introduction, through a mutual friend, to
James and Demien, founders of the entertainment development firm, EnDev. New to the business, but empowered by diehard ambition to open a nightclub, James and Demien enlisted Davis to design what was to become a benchmark in San Dieg
o nightlife.

Davis, who was a furniture designer at a Los Angeles firm at the time, would work on the EnDev concept in the evenings after work. "We had a small budget, so it required great creativity," Davis reminisces, "it was real personal, a real grassroots sort of thing."

Side Bar sparked a huge sensation and caffeinated the sleepy, basically nonexistent, downtown San Diego nightlife. "There was nothing in the Gaslamp, San Diego was just waiting for something Vegas, New York or L.A.," says Davis. Sidebar's success catapulted Davis and EnDev into the leading role in the local club scene. Davis was able to launch Davis Ink Ltd., and EnDev was given the freedom to make more of their visions realities.

As a positive corollary to their success, San Diego started to attract the attention of renowned designers, like Philippe Starck, to lend their genius to the total revamp of the Gaslamp Quarter. To follow was Stingaree, The Witherby, Bar West to name a few, and now to the soon to be hot spot in Hillcrest, Universal and Dish at Universal, set to open spring of 2008.

As far as architectural trends go, Davis is a trailblazer. "Our office is filled with random materials and samples from all over," says Davis. Inspiration is derived from mixing these eclectic scraps and using traditional elements in new or odd ways, so the designs reflect a progressive and unique flair. "We rarely do the same thing twice," boasts Davis, "we like to go in new directions, invent things." Davis prides himself in the ability to fuse contradicting genres and materials into something that just works.

When possible, Davis preserves the essence of the original site in the design of the new club. Sidebar started as a turn of the century brick shell into which "we dropped a contemporary club," Davis remarks. He did not want to demolish the old structure, but rather use it to his advantage, allowing the feel of the site to dictate the path of the design.

Davis Ink is distinct not only in design but in their superior dedication to the client. Davis' consistent involvement in all of his projects allows him to develop a close personal relationship with his clients. It is not uncommon to find Davis himself at the jobsite, with a saw and wood in hand. Davis considers each endeavor a "family project," where input from the client is encouraged. This approach is so effective that EnDev has basically given Davis free reign over the design of their sites. "The San Diego boys," as Davis so endearingly calls EnDev, "have given me a lot of trust." This may seem like a designer's dream, but Davis humbly asserts that the freedom challenges him to always one-up his past accomplishments.

Davis has definitely reached that goal with the most recent and over-the-top Hillcrest project - Universal and Dish at Universal. When asked to pinpoint his favorite aspects of his latest creation, Davis enthusiastically spoke of the use of organic materials. The organic theme at Dish, the upscale restaurant side of the complex, is achieved with the use of weathered wood salvaged from old barns to frame the windows, and real driftwood interspersed amongst eye-catching backlit photo images of peacock feathers. In line with the attraction to contradiction, traditionally extravagant crystal chandeliers will hang above the natural décor to create an uncommon but classy ambiance that is uniquely Davis.

Patrons can seamlessly transition from dinner to Universal, the chic nightclub side, where the design theme incorporates the mood of Dish only with a funkier and tastefully gaudy finesse. Driftwood is painted gold, and glowing chandeliers display custom gold orbs encompassing black crystal flowers. The walls are covered in highly detailed, opaque wallpaper, popping with color and depth while large overhead lights emit an image of a field of flowers onto the floor, creating an oxymoronic synthesized organic.

Davis has certainly managed to outdo himself with this new location, exquisitely striking a balance between refined and sophisticated and warm and unpretentious. Davis admits that the finished product is a result of being open to change along the way and just allowing inspiration to come from instinct. In other words, Davis and EnDev have proven that going with the flow is a plan for success.

New Side Bar Reignites Gaslamp Glow

We locals are privy to the staple Saturday night institutions scattered throughout the bustling streets of the downtown San Diego GaslampWe savor a Sting of exhilaration, envelop ourselves in a world ofEnvy or sit back and SWAY with the crowd until just before Two-o-Seven in the morning. But before these clubs came to fruition, downtown was home to a trendsetting spot

that is said to have originally ignited theGaslamp glow.

The scintillating San Diego nightlife scene is about to switch gears with the homecoming of an age-old friend: Side Bar.

Want to party at Side Bar? Get on the guest list for Industry Wednesdays,

Rock Bar Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays!

Side Bar first acquired acclamation when it opened its doors five years ago as the first New York style hangout in San Diego, upping the ante on bottle service and superior entertainment. Co-owned by local businessman David Laurent and veteran e

ntertainment entrepreneurs, Mike Georgopoulous and Rodrigo Iglesias, who have recently joined forces to create RMD Group, the 5,000 square-foot Gaslamp venue has undergone a $1 million remodel under the direction of interior designer, Davis Krumins to transform Side Bar into a glamorous art deco and modern destination.

“Side Bar was the first nightclub in San Diego to offer the VIP service and ambiance nightlife aficionados had come to know and love in other metropolitan cities,” said Mike Georgopoulous. “After a successful five years in the Gaslamp, it was time to revitalize the signature style and unrivaled entertainment that Side Bar became known for and we are excited to debut the new stylized space and focus on service which were the foundation for Side Bar’s success from the start.”

The new Side Bar now abides as both a lounge and nightclub, providing for a blasé yet dynamic aesthetic with classic sex appeal, all underneath one roof. Entering through the bold black doors and into the front lounge, I suddenly felt as if I had been encapsulated in one of Mr. Hefner’s exotic Playboy Mansion parties, minus the acres of land engrossed by real-life animals you’d expect to find on a safari and blonde bombshells dressed in bunny costumes, that is.

A quick glance over of the artwork displayed on the black brick walls and you will be suddenly seduced by the dozens of canvases emblazoned with inviting half-naked women. Oh and of course, I can’t forget to mention the lone emu donning a chic pearl necklace surreptitiously thrown into the seductive mix.

mismatched array of velvet burgundy couches set beneath black sheathed crystal chandeliers and a cluster of thirty maroon birdcages dangling from the lofted ceiling are far from the once audacious lime green aura of the former Side Bar. But do not let this prominent facelift deter you – the façade may have been slightly modified, but the quintessence of Side Bar still holds true to its original conception.

Step through the side swept deep gray curtains of the lounge and guests will find themselves immersed in Side Bar’s club element. From Thursday through Saturday night, the ceiling-high LED lit DJ birdcage will house local aural mixologists to provide an ethereal entertainment haven for avid party-goers.

Alongside the dance floor an elongated black bar dons glass shelves of milky ceramic Greek busts flawlessly flanking brimming bottles of alcoholic substances to sedate your senses. The unique drink menu is chockfull of savory martinis such as The Sweetest Taste of Sin – a mix of Stoli Strasberi, Cointreau, fresh lemon, strawberries, soda, ginger ale and Sprite – and signature cocktails like the Absolut Side Bar, featuring Absolut Peach, Absolut Vanilla, fresh strawberries and pineapple juice.

Outlining the glossy, black linoleum dance floor, VIP guests can take refuge in the crimson cushioned couches set beneath massive wash-lit mirrors and oversized custom crystal chandeliers. Being astute in avoiding discrepancies, Side Bar offers two savvy conveniences at the bottle service tables to accommodate us girls. The customized sofas include hidden purse compartments in order to avoid the matter of lost or misplaced clutches and to top it off, the customized sofa cushions are remove

d at 11:30 each night to avoid those pesky stiletto imprints our shoes are apt to leave behind.

Tactfully taking into account the syndrome known as “late night drunken munchies,” Side Bar has found a means to placate our undulating cravings. Teaming up with Derek Dinublia, known for his savory New York style slices of pie at the neighboring Ciro’s Pizzeria (moved west to accommodate a larger club space), Side Bar will now offer a traditional late-night bar menu with a twist including carefully hand-crafted artisan pizzas until the wee hours of 4am.

Suffice to say, one cannot simply applaud the chic apotheosis of Side Bar without having personally experienced the opulent comfort residing within the walls of its mystical veneer. Go on. You’re guaranteed to get hooked…again.

The revamped San Diego Side Bar celebrated its grand opening May 15 - 16. Check out Side Bar party pictures.

NIGHTLIFE: Wednesday and Sunday Nights—The New Friday and Saturday?

NOVEMBER 6, 2009 -- Friday and Saturday are the nights that bars and nightclubs traditionally make the most money. The work week is generally over for patrons, and those hard-working folks want to loosen up with friends, down adult beverages and take over dance floors.

But some argue that Wednesday and Sunday have become the new Friday and Saturday.

How’s that possible? It all starts with the hospitality industry crowd.

“This is a hospitality industry town,” says Mike Georgeopoulis, a partner at downtown’s recently re-opened Side Bar. “All the people who work at bars, restaurants and at hotels can’t go out on Friday and Saturday nights. They’re working. And they’re all close-knit friends—and they’re fun, good-looking people. They have money to spend and they want to go out, too.”

And for hospitality industry workers, week nights don’t precede “school days.”

In the Gaslamp Quarter, traditional “off nights” are seeing a wide array of special deals. On Mondays, Confidential Restaurant + Loft offers half-off all drinks and most menu items. La Puerta does the same thing on Tuesdays. Both draw good crowds. And in North Park, True West Tavern is packing them in on Mondays and Wednesdays.

In Pacific Beach, Bar West owns Sundays. “It’s our signature night,” says general manager Chris Martin. He says the crowd is bigger on Sundays than Fridays.

Like Side Bar’s Wednesday night, Bar West’s Sunday began as an industry night. Bartenders, waitresses and hotel workers can bring a pay stub or business card to the door and get drink specials ($5 premium cocktails) and pay no cover.

“What happens, though, is people hear that it’s a great party, and that attracts people who aren’t in the industry,” says Martin. And not just the Friday-Saturday party people—Martin says San Diego Chargers players like Steven Cooper and Shawne Merriman, and celebs such as Wilber Valderrama and Chloe and Courtney Kardashian might swing by on any given Sunday.

Side Bar’s Georgeopoulos is part of a group that’s preparing to re-open the space that housed former downtown hot spot Aubergine. He’s planning something special for Tuesday nights, when that place opens in February.

“The greatest part of the success of our Wednesday night at Side Bar is that we didn’t think it was going to work,” he says. “Our employees, especially our bar manager, came up with the idea. We went into it reluctantly—but I’m glad to see they were right.”

13 January 2009

Distinctive Nightlife By Design (944 Magazine Article)

Davis Krumins Knows A Thing Or Two About Creating That Certain Something
Written by: Cynthia Lewis

Flavored martinis, an energetic DJ and a glamorous crowd are all common components of a successful nightclub, but the "wow factor" patrons feel when they walk in the door lies in the décor. The 35-foot water feature that spills into the back bar bottle display at Stingaree, the firework light fixtures suspended over tables at Bar West and the wall made of handpicked driftwood from Bali at the recently opened club Universal come from interior design mastermind Davis Krumins.

Aside from EnDev Enterprises, Krumins is the creative force behind the some of the hottest nightspots of Southern California, including Suki 7 in Westlake and the new Kress club at the former Frederick's of Hollywood building in Hollywood. After working at a top restaurant design firm in Los Angeles for several years, Krumins formed Davis Ink Ltd. in 2002. 944 recently sat down with him to find out the design secrets to his success.

944: Interior design involves a lot of artistic talent. Do you have a background in the arts?

DAVIS KRUMINS: When I first started I did a lot of painting and furniture design on my own, so I was sort of an artist. I studied architecture in school with a specialization in modernism. With restaurant and nightclub design you can come up with new approaches. It's a canvas where you can experiment with new things and take it in a completely new direction.
When you are given a project, what is the creative process you go through?
First we have to find out the general needs, goals and requirements of the project, like will the space be formal or casual? What type of food will be served? Nightclub or restaurant? Who will be our target clientele? Once we have determined this information, we can start having fun. Our general goal is to create a space that is totally unique - something completely unexpected. We like to create environments that are funky and bizarre in a good and positive way. We want to create the "wow factor." We start out by throwing out lots of fun ideas. Nothing can be too weird or bizarre during the conceptual process. Once we have come up with these loose ideas we begin to sketch the floor plans and elevations. During this process we play around with fabrics, materials, tile, glass and stone. We are always looking for new products and finding new ways to use them in our projects.

What was your vision behind designing Stingaree?
Stingaree was a very special project for me. This was our first really big job. We wanted to create a space that could function as a restaurant, nightclub and special events venue. We wanted Stingaree to be spectacular and sophisticated, but we also wanted to make sure that the environment had a cool vibe. We did not want the space to be too intimidating or overly formal. We wanted our design to be ultra-modern with smooth high gloss surfaces and sleek, streamlined fixtures. We wanted to use new materials that had never been used before in San Diego.

What was your most challenging project and why?
My most challenging project was Bar West in Pacific Beach; it was also one of the most rewarding. We had a very limited budget and a very short time frame to design and build. Also, the existing building was in extremely poor shape. These limitations forced us to be super creative. We had to come up with very interesting solutions and invent new ways to create the "wow factor." The harshest conditions often produce the best results. I think the job turned out to be incredible.

What are the current trends in interior design?
This is a very fascinating time for interior design. On one hand, minimalist modernism is very popular. On the other hand, highly ornate almost gaudy, Hollywood glamour design is coming into vogue. I have found that the combination of these two seemingly contradictive design languages can produce some very fascinating results.

On a personal note, what's your favorite drink and dish?
My taste in alcohol is quite simple. I prefer a nice red wine like merlot or cabernet sauvignon. I also enjoy beer, especially English stouts and microbrew pale ales. I love food in general. I eat lots of sushi and also enjoy steak, crab and lobster. The New York pizza served at Side Bar is fantastic!

Aside from being a designer, you're also a dad?
My family is awesome. I have an incredible wife named Andrea and two beautiful kids - Maya is 6 and Andre is 10. Little do my clients know that some of our best design ideas originated from the kids. I always take the family to job sites and keep them very involved. You will often see the entire Krumins family at the job site helping out before an opening.

Any upcoming projects?
We have lots of very cool projects coming soon, including a 100-room boutique hotel in Hollywood that will include two restaurants, a bar and a rooftop pool. We have incredible clients that we love working with and see nothing but success in our future.

Any advice for aspiring interior designers?
Have a passion and love for what you do. This can be an incredibly rewarding profession. Don't let the 12-hour workdays bum you out.

Check out Krumins' passion at