Photography by Trevor Smith

Neil Bardon

Designer, St. Rita Parlor

| DTLA

Listen, we’ve seen a lot of personal, expertly-curated spaces in our day, but Neil Bardon’s is different; walk into his downtown LA home-meets-showroom and you immediately get the sense that everything (and we mean everything) in it whispers quietly, albeit enchantingly of a story. And you wouldn’t be wrong: there’s the crystal whiskey decanter from the 1904 World’s Fair that he picked up in St. Louis— a nod to where he’s from, the iron and leather slingback chair he designed himself and welded with a friend, and the old-fashioned, single-wood stove doubling, creatively, as a side table. Whereas many display objets for the sake of “having them,” Bardon’s collection of things hum to the tune of his own heartbeat— in other words, there’s a meaning and a memory behind every trinket, textile and artwork. Non-coincidentally, Bardon’s approach to life at home mirrors his approach to his accessories brand, Saint Rita Parlor (and no, not just because their housed within the same walls). The brand—which first made a name for itself via its thoughtfully handcrafted eyewear— is a living love letter to Bardon’s grandmother, Rita. She’s in its overarching essence: the creation of heirloom treasures with intimate character, just as she is its smallest details (for example, Bardon hand stains, then bakes his client receipts with coffee to represent his many coffee chats with Rita). The label has since grown to include leather satchels, wool ties, custom handkerchiefs and an organic essential oil fragrance, the latter of which combines notes of whiskey, tobacco and rose as homage to Rita’s favorite pastime: enjoying a whiskey-water and cigarette while tending to her rose garden. From his brand to his home to his personal nature, Bardon has a natural way of turning life into poetry, and we, for one, will never stop being inspired by it. Here, he sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal his little black book on LA.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Dune (MAP ITx) for their organic green herb falafel sandwich. I’m vegan and this is the best falafel I’ve ever had.

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee from G&B (MAP IT, x)— they are “top.”

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Little Pine (MAP ITBOOK ITx), Moby’s restaurant in Silverlake. Not only is it the best and most delicious conceptual vegan/plant-based restaurant in LA, but all of its profits go to animal organizations.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: An Old Fashioned at The Spare Room (MAP ITx) inside The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: Quite often, I host friends for after-work drinks in my showroom, Saint Rita Parlor (MAP IT, x). If I’m looking to go to a local bar, it’s Tony’s Saloon (MAP IT, x).

DINNER WITH FRIENDS: I enjoy cooking at home with my wife along with exceptional company. However, if we decide to venture out, we go to Gracias Madre (MAP ITBOOK ITx).

MUSIC PICK: I have no specific type of favorite music as I enjoy every genre. I did just design “The Cool Kids” new album so I’ve been into hip-hop as of lately. Classical and jazz are always being played at SRP too. Typically, my selections change with the seasons.

BEST BRUNCH: Zinc Café (MAP IT, x)— they have a delicious avocado toast plate.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Outside any establishment in the Arts District.

HEALTHY STAPLE: Daily Dose (MAP ITx) for a salad.

GUILTY PLEASURE: The Cadillac sandwich (“Sausage” patty, cheddar, chipotle sauce, tempeh bacon, avocado and salsa) from Localita & The Badasserie in DTLA (MAP IT, x).

LA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: Saint Rita Parlor. For food, Wax Paper (MAP IT, x)— it’s amazing.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: My wife, Ashley, my dog, Archibald and my cat, Petrie.

REGULAR AT: I’m at Tony’s Saloon once a week; | I’ve been a regular there for 8 years. It’s my local spot.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: We like to try new places; however, Zinc and Little Pine are places we are likely to frequent.

TO ESCAPE AND UNWIND: Lechuza Beach in Malibu (MAP IT, x).

GO-TO GETAWAY: My favorite getaway is Kern River, a 3-hr drive outside LA (MAP IT, x). Specifically, I like campground #3— it’s a nice, quiet place to get away from the pulse of the city.

CLOSET CHECK: My personal style is just that: my personal aesthetic. I’ve always been a non-conformist at heart. I make my clothes and repair them as needed. I have one outfit (x2) that I’ve been wearing for the past 2 years. As fashion increasingly becomes “fast fashion” rather than conceptual and honest, this is how I maintain an unbiased approach.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: My home/showroom is a direct and accurate visual representation of Saint Rita Parlor. The interior aesthetic is a meticulously organized and select range of artifacts that I find at estate sales and auctions. I would describe my interior design as, “mid-century modern with an industrial presence on a strict color palette.”

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: I tend to hunt for specific items that hold a significant meaning.  I prefer to shop estate sales; however, Salvare Goods (MAP IT, x) has a solid range [of gifts].

GROOMING BLACK BOOK: Hairstylist Paul Desmarre (x) at Larisa Love (MAP IT, x).

FIT PICK: I have a strict daily routine which consists of running and calisthenics.

ULTIMATE LA MOMENT: Everyday holds LA/CA moments that are special, though the time I was invited on the set of Wilfred by Elijah Wood (as I was dropping him off some eyewear) was quite the unique experience… A close second would be walking in the LA Women’s March next to Adam Scott (who also wears SRP); his daughter was carrying a sign that said, “Trump eats farts”— it was perfect. CP

Neil’s LA

From L to R: First Row: Inside Little Pine; Fragrance from Saint Rita Parlor; Tony’s Saloon; The “Cadillac” from Localita & The Badasserie. Second Row: Saint Rita Parlor eyewear; Happy hour at Tony’s Saloon; Coffee from G & B; Outside Daily Dose.

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