Last week I visited Arc Blanc, an extraordinary house in Hancock Park, and developer Ori Ayonmike, who is the vision behind it. I wanted to get a sense of where he gets his inspiration because I see lots of houses as a designer, and I’m always in awe of what I see with Ori.
Ori said he always likes home to feel like a hotel. “My father used to be in the hotel business, and my sister and I practically went to school in a hotel room, so I’ve felt this love for hotels from an early age, and I would want to bring that hotel-like look to the projects I develop,” he said. “Most of the time when you go to a luxury hotel, you’re in awe, and that’s really what I wanted to achieve, that emotional reaction you get when you walk into a place and say, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing.”
That’s the exact reaction I got from walking into Arc Blanc. My mouth fell open. Every project that Ori does has these details that are so beautifully thought out. Everything is so well-appointed with items that I haven’t seen really in any other project in Los Angeles. I have not seen the level of detail in any other project. So I asked him how he is inspired to create the minute details that everyone will see and feel: the staircase turnaround, the beautiful baseboards lined with porcelain, and flush with the wood.
“A lot of it happens on the fly,” Ori said. “You have a plan, and with anyone who builds and develops home, you know that, as you start to build, a lot of times when I have my guys leave for the day, I come back, and it’s just me, and it’s empty and quiet, and I start to walk around, and I go, ‘Why didn’t you do this here, that, there?’”
When the workers show up in the morning, Ori added, “It’s like, we’ve got to do this, and we’ve got to do that. And they say, ‘Oh no, you’re changing things again!’ And it’s been a recurring theme. But really, that’s where I get a lot of it. I come in, just me, and in that silence and peace, I’m able to come up with these ideas.”
Ori said he wouldn’t take credit for all the ideas he gives life to in his projects. “There are a lot of great designers and developers out there, and I’m always looking at stuff to be influenced, to get inspiration, which a lot of people do,” he said. “I’m always looking at museums and hotels.”
Developing a house means that you’re creating a home for someone you don’t know, Ori said. “And the thing is, you develop it in such a way that you want to make it special, where’s there’s that one buyer who comes in and says, ‘Oh God, I love this.’”
There were multiple offers on this home, as you can imagine. People were dying, people were crying, “I want this house.” And that must make Ori feel good.
“It does,” he said. “The last project I did which you featured on your channel, we had multiple offers in 24 hours. So that does feel good. When you put out a project, and someone loves it. And they’re ready to make the decision right then.”
I asked Ori about the kitchen in Arc Blanc. To me, it looks like an ode to Parisian design. I love how minimal it is, how clean it is. And the cantilevered table! I asked him how he came up with the plan for the kitchen.
Ori said he likes dark kitchens. “I wanted to do another dark kitchen. Last time, I did a black kitchen, so I didn’t want to do another black one, so the color is cacao. I wanted to bring in a dark vibe, but I also wanted to bring in some color, so we have the island in that and then the counter and cantilevered breakfast table in thermal ash wood. I wanted to bring in these dark tones to give you that movie vibe because you have the white oak floors and the white walls for contrast.”
I told him how much I loved the brass lamp on the island and that I had almost passed out when I saw the master bath. So many people ask me if you can mix your metals, and the answer to that is, absolutely, and this house is an ode to that. So I asked Ori how he mixed gold and black and beautiful porcelain and white oak remarkably well.
“As a designer, you start to create a palette and build these swatches together when you’re creating, and sometimes it’s almost good, and sometimes it’s not,” Ori said. “I always like to play with the ‘not sure.’ You know, when everyone is like, ‘I don’t know about that,’ that’s really where I like to be. So I come up with things that are not necessarily traditional. Like a stone that has black in it with brown cabinets. Usually, you wouldn’t go with black and brown in a space, but those are the kinds of things that I like to do that set my projects apart.”
I told Ori I loved the beautiful rich stone in the bathrooms juxtaposed with straightforward black or white fixtures, very clean. And how every bathroom seemed to be slightly cohesive and slightly unexpected.
“I wanted to do just enough where it feels like it isn’t complete, but it is,” Ori said.
I also told Ori how I loved his veranda, which has an arched opening to the street with a fountain below. He said that was intentional.
“This house is from 1924 and had arches when we purchased it, two in the family room. So we decided to use that as a theme, so we have nine arches altogether,” Ori said. “I wanted the repetition to bring in that old feel while staying modern at the same time.”