Style Guide - David Montalba


David Montalba, the driving force and founding Principal of Montalba Architects, Inc., the firm behind the beautiful spaces at Nobu, Soho House,
and the Row—not to mention our very own Los Angeles showroom, shows how he wears the Gage Classic Straight jeans at home and at the office.
How does your creative process begin?
It's about getting to know the opportunities and challenges for any specific project and diving into a deeper understanding of the site, parameters, the context and the client. The spaces and buildings we design have many types of different end users but it all comes down to human experience, the engagement of people via architecture and design.
What is your philosophy on design?
Design to me has always been the intersection of the analytic and the inspirational. Some of it is planned and some of it is pure gut instinct.
How would you describe your style of architecture?
I have always focused on principles of design rather than a style—ideas of natural light, texture, materiality, humanism and being sensitive to one’s context and place in the built environment are expressed. I hope all of our work has similarities and is consistent in its values and ideas, but isn’t always of a style or specific time.
What does all great architecture have in common?
All great architecture is a transformational response to the human experience. It should leave us in awe and inspire us!
Your practice is based in LA, why is LA a great city to create in?
We are in the middle of so many landscapes both urban and natural—the cityscape, the canyons, the mountains, the beach, and desert—all which inspire different forms and perhaps suggest varying solutions. In the more recent past LA has really matured into an amazing global hub. LA is now very much a global part of the economy and landmark in ways it just wasn’t in the past, and as such provides really unique opportunities for many types of clients and projects.
When did you know you wanted to be an architect?
When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I became increasingly aware that my environment had a profound impact on how I felt and what I did. Although, most of my early years were focused on surfing, it became clear when I was in my late teens that architecture and design inspired me and were my calling. As I did with surfing, I fell head over heels towards design and architecture and never looked back.
Who are your creative heroes? And why?
I have so many! From architects who were my mentors like Frank Gehry, Larry Scarpa, Glenn Murcutt, and Renzo Piano to artists like Andre Raboud, Andy Denzler, Sterling Ruby, to my mother who was an artist and really taught me to trust my instinct.
Also, I think we can learn a lot from the people in history that have preceded us. The cycle of life, the duration of a career and our own journeys as creatives have not really changed as much as we think. It’s more the medium and environment we practice in that has.

How does fashion play a role in your daily life?
In my daily life, fashion is something I really enjoy seeing and appreciate. That said, I’m rather casual and fall victim of searching for a timeless simple fashion that sometimes appears understated.
Fashion design and architecture are both very humanistic art forms. They both lead one to a path of balancing the art with the practical aspects of making. In life, fashion and architecture have influence on each other and frankly are the blueprints of the future. There is an energy created internally by each that really feeds off each other.
In what do you feel best?
Simple, casual, clean and classics, I tend to be really interested in texture and fit. Living creatively in California we are so fortunate to wear what we want pretty much when we want.

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