Stephen Francis Jones – SFJones Architect - The Hollywood Times
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/13/15 – “When you go out to eat, the experience is just not feeding yourself, it’s really entertaining yourself, because you go for the social aspect of it, the food and feeling comfortable with the service. Good environment, good food and good service, those are the successful restaurants.” Stephen Francis Jones, in-house architect for Wolfgang Puck Food Company, told The Hollywood Times during a phone interview yesterday.
We started off with a great laugh as I told him he has a great smile and how impressed I was with all the buildings that he has designed. WOW!
I told him that when we go into a restaurant to eat and meet people, that we need to stop and look around at the restaurant to see the interior, the design, how it is decorated. I mentioned that I had visited the Lazy Dog Restaurantout by Temecula and how cool it was inside, which reminded me of The Lodge I visited in the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole WY. Also, especially that he designed that restaurant. He enjoyed hearing that.
Steve told me a little story about Wolfgang Puck. “In the early days working with Wolfgang Puck, he would say they would eat his food off a garbage can lid,” and Steve Jones told him that they might enjoy it more being pampered and in a nice environment – which is what Steve’s job is in designing restaurants.
THT: How would you describe your signature style?
SFJ: Comfortable and social. I think my pallet is using materials in their nature colors and texture and trying to make the space have a “wow factor” so that when you walk in you feel like you have arrived. Not over the top, feel like you are at ease to eat and socialize.
We talked about the Lucky Strike bowling alley and at first people would say to him, “You are working on bowling alleys?” His concept for doing the Lucky Strike bowling alleys was to “…mess it all up and let it all work together and let everyone have their five seconds of fame.”
I recommend, that those of you who work in the downtown Los Angeles area, go there one day for lunch and enjoy the sounds of the bowling ball hitting the pins while you have lunch. It sure takes the stress out of your day, so give it a try.
THT: What is your concern about the environment?
SFJ: I always try to be conscious of that and try to use environment products like recycled glass tiles and using products in their natural states, non-synthetic. My clients want to be conscious of the materials that are used.
THT: Who inspires you?
SFJ: I am more inspired by what I see in terms of not focusing on an architect in general. I am more inspired by the work itself. Obviously my roots are inspired by the masters like Frank Gehry and Frank Lloyd Wright, which they inspired a whole generation, just not me.
THT: How has your upbringing led to becoming an architect?
SFJ: It has given me the opportunity by exploring different cultures and also traveling and living in different places, like Italy, Barcelona, Boston and it has given me a little taste thus far. I decided to be an architect at a very young age, my Father was a silk screen printer with his own business and I remember going to the shop and being interested in watching what was happening and my Uncle was an engineer and I liked looking at all the drawing. In junior high I took a drafting class and it became really natural to me as far as being able to think three dimensionally and so I would finish my drawing before everyone else did and I kept on doing drafting because it was an easy “A” for me.
Steve feels fortunate that he does what he loves given that there are so many people going through life, and do not necessarily know what inspires them.
THT: What is your ultimate goal?
SFJ: I am currently thinking of the next steps for my career. I have been in this career for the past 18 years and I am focusing on the next chapter of my life to expand the design business from just designing to making brands now for a lifestyle concept.
We talked more in detail of his next stage in life, but I think it best not to write too much about it until he has most of the plan down as not to give away any of his trade secrets. Believe me, when he starts his new venture, his name will be recognized everywhere. I told him it was like a songwriter now wanting to sing his own songs. He thought that was really a great way to look at it, him as a songwriter wanting to sing his own songs.
I can’t wait to follow his new found architecture career and tell you all about it as it unfolds. He wants to learn the business sense of designing and building a commercial restaurant now – like starting a big successful company, like watching Wolfgang Puck starting out from the beginning designing the restaurant for him.
We also talked about him designing a museum to put all his pieces in one place to showcase all that he has done, and even a book to talk about his life as an architect with pictures and stories about those pictures.
His legacy will be a great one once he starts his new venture in life. Stories to come for sure.
To find out more about SF Jones Architects, check out his website which also shows all the restaurants he has designed (make it a point to visit as many as you can, as I plan to do as well!):
About Stephen Francis Jones
As in-house architect for the Wolfgang Puck Food Company, Stephen Francis Jones established one of Southern California’s most iconic brands. When he founded his own firm, Puck immediately hired him to help develop the fine dining ambiance at Spago Beverly Hills. That project led to designing Wolfgang Puck restaurants worldwide—and, most recently, the renovation of the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland, site of the Academy Awards’ Governors Ball. Beginning with a complete renovation of the Century Plaza Hotel, Jones received a steady stream of high-profile commissions. He designed the serenely elegant sushi restaurants Hamasaku and Kumo for Michael Ovitz and Anisette—a classic French brasserie in a landmark Santa Monica tower—for Tommy Stoilkovich, Mike Garrett and four-star chef Alain Giraud.
Jones was a young associate at a boutique Los Angeles architecture firm when he discovered that restaurant design was his true calling. Working as project architect with restaurateur Brian Vidor on Typhoon at Santa Monica Airport, he realized that the intimate scale allowed him to focus on the details of lighting, texture and color that create a memorable ambiance.
After graduating from the University of Florida School of Architecture, Jones developed high rises at Jung/Brannon in Boston.
He worked on large projects in southern Europe with the internationally renowned Barcelona firm Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura before completing his master’s degree in architecture at UCLA. A fluent Spanish speaker who had spent his youth in Bogotá, Colombia, Jones found that immersion in urban European life gave him a fresh perspective on what makes a social space a memorable experience. An avid cyclist and volleyball player with a warmly engaging personality, Jones has a way of bonding with his clients. After meeting restaurateur Chris Simms at a local beach, Jones collaborated with him on six projects, including the playfully rustic M.B. Post (a former post office) in Manhattan Beach, with Michelin-starred chef David LeFevre.
Jones seeks to realize each client’s distinctive vision. By interpreting and enhancing his clients’ concepts, he creates uniquely inviting settings for casual to high-end dining. Among his best-known projects is Lucky Strike Lanes in Hollywood. Working with CEO Steven Foster, Jones created a wildly popular hipster hybrid—restaurant, bar and bowling alley—that resulted in a flurry of spin-off projects.
Married to Stephanie Eyestone Jones, owner of urban planning firm Matrix Environmental, Jones and his family live in Manhattan Beach. Some of his best ideas come during the tranquil early-morning hour he spends sculling at the UCLA Aquatic Center—in line with his belief in work that “feeds the spirit, not the ego.”