Six Things to See, Do, and Be Inspired By in This Vibrant Community Central to Los Angeles
It’s hard to imagine that a mere two decades ago, the hipster hot spot Culver City was a desolate, run-down district that was nothing more than a passing blur when traveling on the 405. But now? Art galleries, culinary destinations, and unique boutiques inhabit the low buildings that line wide boulevards. With so much to see and do, it can be hard to identify the best of the best. Here are our picks for six spots known for being city favorites.
Shop Culver City
The Helms Bakery District—Cool Before Culver City Was Cool
Long before Culver City became the cool place to shop, eat, and be artsy, the Marks family purchased the abandoned Helms Bakery with a vision of turning it into a furniture and home décor destination.
That vision paid off. Since 1974, the Helms Bakery District has been a mecca for those looking for furniture, décor, and design inspiration—and a bite to eat while they’re at it.
Once abandoned, Culver City is now design heaven on earth.
With Venice Boulevard to the north, Washington to the south, Alley to the west, and Hutchison to the east, the two blocks of buildings that used to compose Helms Bakery have been converted into 19 retail spaces that offer high-end and handmade furniture and décor shops alongside the Helms Design Center, a space entirely dedicated to architectural and commercial product needs.
Running through the District is old Helms Street, now a closed-off pedestrian walkway that encourages designers, shoppers, and professionals to make a day of it, to shop, lounge, walk, and eat.
Considering Culver City didn’t start its revitalization efforts until the ’90s, the Helms Bakery District was—and still is—as forward‑thinking as it gets, but the shopping area also celebrates the past, much to the thrill of locals who remember the old sights and smells of Helms breads and goodies. Work to reopen a Helms Bakery within the district is underway. Though the new shop won’t be able to offer the long-gone secret recipes, there will be a concerted effort to recreate as many of the original offerings as possible.
From European and American furniture designs to contemporary décor you can’t get elsewhere in L.A., to freshly baked goods and cafes that allow you to make a day of it, the Helms Bakery District is one of Culver City’s truly unique design experiences.
The Platform—the Next Evolution in Retail
Where do you go to find a haven of creative thought, never-before-seen design concepts, and progressive design all within one spectacular retail, restaurant, and creative experience? Look no further than the Culver City metro line station, for within view of the elevated-train platform is the newest shopping experience to invade the ”Heart of Screenland,” the Platform.
The architectural history of Culver City (and L.A., for that matter) doesn't get much better than the Culver Hotel.
The Platform offers shopping and dining, much like the Helms Bakery District, but with a distinct bent toward the new, the exciting, and the specialty experience. Three buildings—one of them resembling stacked shipping containers and the others proudly displaying colorful street murals—are dedicated to promoting retail, restaurants, and creative spaces.
In other words, the Platform is design heaven on earth.
Enjoy a stable of hand-picked furniture, lighting, and décor shops; unique pop-up experiences that push new products, new art, and new merchants; and a carefully crafted culinary journey that takes you from the Cannibal’s famed beer-and-butcher experience to the boutique coffee roaster, Blue Bottle Coffee.
Visit for the art, for the food, for the shopping experience the Platform provides. Stay for the people, the designers—the artists who work and frequent here, and who care just as much about great design as you do.
Dine Culver City
The Culver Hotel—Lunch with the Lollipop Gang
The Culver Hotel is a glimpse into Culver City’s silver-screen past—a time when movie stars walked the boulevards and dined at local establishments while staying on one of the Culver Hotel’s six floors. From its storied history to its incredible restoration that wonderfully reflects its 1920s roots, the hotel is a spot frequented by area designers looking for inspiration—and a good time.
The architectural history of Culver City (and L.A., for that matter) doesn’t get much better than the Culver Hotel. Opened in 1924, the brick flatiron was designed by Curlett & Beelman, the latter being the brains behind other major L.A. art deco landmarks, such as the Eastern Columbia Building. In its former glory, the Culver Hotel benefited from the many movies that were shot at various Culver City studios. Its guest list boasts the likes of stars of The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and more.
Restored in the 1990s and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, the hotel now has 46 renovated guest rooms and a restaurant, and every evening at 7:30 it transforms into a 1920s jazz bar, complete with a speakeasy called the Velvet Lounge. It’s the perfect space to get away with friends (or design clients), have a few drinks, and discuss your latest project.
Akasha—Food from the Earth
The food is locally sourced, the baked goods delicious, and the vibe an eco-friendly dream. Meet Akasha.
The buzzed-about eatery has been a local spot since 2008, offering cafe, dining room, and bar experiences, each with a focus on sustainability and green living. From its eclectic small-plates menu to its raved-about brunches, Akasha produces success after success. And it’s all thanks to its mastermind chef, Akasha Richmond.
There are dozens of galleries and exhibits to explore in Culver City, but we love Thinkspace because it represents the future of art.
Formerly a private chef to celebrities, Richmond has always had as her focus health, wellness, and delicious food. And with her successful restaurant tucked into one of Culver City’s historic landmarks, the Hull Building (formerly the city’s very first hospital), she also has an eye for iconic architecture, seamless renovations, and art that adds dimension and intrigue to any dining experience.
Whether you’re passing through Culver City or are a longtime resident looking for architectural and culinary inspiration that rivals that of any New York establishment, Akasha is the place to be.
Plus, the building played the role of Flynn’s Arcade in Tron (1982). And if that’s not inspiring, we’re not sure what is.
Play Culver City
Culver City is home to nearly three dozen art and design galleries cultivating creativity with a variety of exhibits at any given time. From 19th century art to contemporary architecture, there is something to inspire everyone on La Cienega and Washington Boulevards.
Design disciplines meet at Edward Cella Art & Architecture, a gallery making its name for curating pieces that blend artistic creativity and architectural design. Explore contemporary painting, sculpture, video, drawing, photography, and installations at Angles Gallery. Let the past inspire you at The Century Guild Museum of Art, where you can immerse yourself in Art Nouveau and Symbolist works from Germany, Austria, France, and Italy from 1880-1920. See the work of emerging artists from around the world at Anat Ebgi, a gallery supporting new, distinct forms of production spanning the spectrum of both medium and style.
Thinkspace Gallery—on the Forefront of What’s New
There are dozens of galleries and exhibits to explore in Culver City, but we love Thinkspace because it represents the future of art. Founded as a showcase for new and emerging artists, Thinkspace isn’t afraid to feature no-name muralists or brand‑new collections from unknown artists. And that’s exactly why this gallery is one of the most inspiring of all. It exalts new points of view and promotes new creativity.
Located in a nondescript storefront on Washington Boulevard, the gallery’s focus is and always will be on the art and on giving new creatives a voice and a way to show their work.
In addition to its exhibits, Thinkspace also takes on special projects, curating collections that have been shown in Hong Kong, Berlin, London, and more. This commitment to promoting lesser-known artists is more than a phase or a means of garnering attention. It’s about love for art and the future of art.
And for those of us fully immersed in the design world, Thinkspace is exactly what we need to breathe new life into our creative minds.
Culver City Is So Much More Than Specialty Coffee Spots and Old Movie Studios.
Culver City is bursting with new voices in design, culinary arts, and retail. It takes the best of the old, mixes it with the passion of the new, and offers a city experience that’s energizing, exciting, and exactly what we designers need to recharge.
So on your next trip west on the 10, stop off at one of the most‑talked‑about design hubs in Los Angeles, and be inspired by the people, shops, eateries, and artwork that you find.