As gentrification continues to move into LA’s working-class neighborhoods, Highland Park appears to be the next area ripe for change, with its vintage houses and location just east of Downtown. And the de facto architect of the area is Freeland Buck, which has designed several spaces on York Boulevard, the neighborhood’s main drag. The firm’s most recent creation is Maximiliano, an Italian restaurant located in an intimate 2,200-square-foot wedge-shaped building that the firm has infused with carefully calibrated shifts and repetitions of color, texture, and a heavy dose of computer-based fabrication.
Upon entering, visitors are greeted with a bang: a large red mural on the south wall is incised with a continuous rhythm of back-lit stripes created by CNC milling. Evoking spaghetti strands, lines shift from evenly parallel at the ceiling to randomly wavy at the seats, starting to “blur or pulse a bit visually,” as firm principal Brennan Buck put it. Back-lit neon-green mill-cut slats below the ceiling animate the space with varying intensity of color, evoking the Op Art style of artists like Carlos Cruz-Diez, while a deep soffit undulates over the bar, both filtering natural and artificial light and housing the restaurant’s wine collection.