A High-Design Bowling Alley Inspired by “There Will Be Blood” [Slideshow]

I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!


Designers will draw inspiration from just about anything, and we mean, anything, no matter how weird or sick. Case in point: Santa Monica’s Studio Collective which, wielding a design brief to endow an old Hollywood hotel with a bowling alley, turned not to the neon razzle-dazzle of midnight bowling or even the retro silliness of Kingpin, but to one of the most disturbing moments in cinema’s recent history. Two hints: a bloody bowling pin and a milkshake.


Yikes! That’s not something we want to visualize on a night out in bowling shoes. Creepy as it sounds, though, you have to admit: Old Plainview had himself a handsome bowling alley, and it partly informed the ritzy, clubby, old-tymey look of The Spare Room, a chic new gaming parlour on the mezzanine of Sunset Boulevard’s historic Roosevelt Hotel.

Another Hollywood fad? Maybe. But there’s a compelling business logic.

The space is roughly what you’d get if you smashed together a gentlemen’s club and granny’s bingo night (a good thing!). You’ve got lots of brown leather and tufted bar stools and rich wood tables that the designers customized, using local craftsmen, to evoke the glamour of the Deco-era Roosevelt. Flea-market furniture is re-appropriated for nightclub use; in one instance, Studio Collective converted a 1930s vanity dresser into a leather DJ booth.

And, yeah, the place is packed to the rafters with games: backgammon, Jenga, chess, checkers, and, of course, bowling. Deadset on playing up the Roosevelt’s vintage vibe, the owners, Med Abrous and Marc Rose, salvaged a pair of wood, ?40s-era bowling lanes (nevermind that it’s the wrong time period, at least it’s old!) from some guy who sells lanes out of missile silos near Amarillo, Texas. They snagged miscellaneous bowling equipment from him, too.

A shtick? Another fleeting Hollywood fad? Maybe. But there’s some compelling business logic at play. L.A. has a black hole in its nightlife offerings — as, we suspect, most big cities do — and it’s stuff geared explicitly toward 30-somethings. As Studio Collective’s Christian Schulz tells Co.: “Med and Marc [both in their 30s] were running our of things to do. They weren’t enjoying nightclubs anymore and found themselves having all these game nights, like Scrabble nights at home.”

So they alit on the idea of a game room, one designed to appeal to people too old to rage at coked-up clubs on the strip ?til 5 a.m., too young to spend Saturday night watching Wheel of Fortune, and too posh to frequent Lucky Strike (unironically). And it seems to be working. Studio Collective says the spot has been open just two months, and it’s already attracting a steady mob of Echo Park hipsters, Euro tourists, and celebrities. We could be mistaken here, but it sounds like they’re drinking The Roxy‘s milkshake.

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D