Since moving to LA I’ve lamented the dearth of public workspaces that go beyond the 5 PM hour of coffee shop closing time. While there are more than a few cozy havens that sell coffee in the Echo Park/Silver Lake/Los Feliz nexus, most of them stick to daylight hours, perhaps operating early in the morning but knocking off early in the evening as well. It feels like downtown LA’s newest upscale coworking space, restaurant, bar, and coffee shop, V DTLA, took those very concerns into consideration when they opened around the corner from the Nomad Hotel, in the historic jewelry district, earlier this fall.
The massive space, which was formerly a landmark jewelry store back in the 1920s, is elegant and immediately arresting in its converted form with high ceilings, a two-level layout, and even a hidden away vault space that’s been converted into a private room in the back. Founded by CEO Christian Lagerlöf and designer Benjamin Calleja (of Livit), the two Swedish owners recently opened a V in Malmo, along with a similar fast-casual meets fine-dining concept in Stockholm called 18I89, a pizza restaurant named for the year margherita pizza was invented. Bringing an ethos that worked in Stockholm to Los Angeles, the space’s stunning green, jade bar, plentiful plants, and rich, baroque flourishes are cut with internal graffiti on the walls by Spanish graffiti artists, Pichi & Avo.
All these elements give the space the same feel as many of the coworking spaces that have popped up in the city over the last year, a craze driven by young, creative professionals who are no longer ascribing to the traditional office-and-day-job model. Self-styled as a “social dining hub” V (pronounced “vee” but named after the Roman numeral five, natch) offers the same level of aesthetic awe, comfort and service to guests without the annoyance of purchasing an expensive membership, signing in, or requiring the emotional calculus of what friends to bring when invitations are limited by exclusivity.
While the space was founded by two men, they cite the influence of “today’s fearless, conscientious, independent, and cosmopolitan female” on the space, and moments of femininity certainly come through without using overt and easy tropes like pinks or florals. The space is plush, full of velvet, marble, heavy stone and warm wood, but the “dad’s study” vibes are cut through with welcoming greenery, bright, modern art, and the speed and precision of a hospitality-focused endeavor. At an initial launch party, guests were sent home with the spot’s signature pizza in clever black and gold pizza boxes that put all the bulky, white cardboard monstrosities to shame.
When I dropped in later for an early coffee and some computer time, the service was so quick and efficient it was almost annoying — reminding me that LA’s slow as molasses pace doesn’t have to be that way, and used to irk me when I was a fresh New York transplant. Now settled into the west coast’s slower vibe, the precision was still a nice option, and when I came again for a night writing session a few weeks later, I was just as welcome then, too. At nights, the pizza is pretty irresistible given you can smell it baking in the ovens, and a creative drinks menu gets even more accessible from 4-7 PM during their long happy hour.
The name V is tied to another aim of the space: to engage all five senses. Visually, this goal has definitely been achieved, and the tactileness of all the marble and velvet also means touch is a really present part of the experience. Taste and smell are taken care of with the thoughtful menu, and the pizza and coffee in particular are standouts. Sound is one of the most interesting parts of V’s because despite their bustling location, and dealing with buzzy crowds, it still ends up being a place where I can get work done and do my writing — even at night. And that, frankly, is what most sets V apart.