Open Spotlight

Open Spotlight

The streets of downtown Los Angeles were shut down last Saturday for Open Spotlight, an eveningtime celebration at the tail end of their Airbnb's three-day Open festival. The longer event, which pulled an audience from around the world to participate, provided a compendium of gatherings and conversations centered on hosting and hospitality. The centerpiece of the weekend was the launch of their new 'Experiences' programs, where guests can sign up for a schedule of unique experiences hosted by chefs, artists and other experts of their respective city. Airbnb has opened up the floodgates of travel by making lodging accessible to many who normally couldn't afford high-priced hotels or are looking for something more comfortable than a small motel. Rather than simply having a concierge who can provide guidance on places to go, visitors can rely on their hosts for personal recommendations or, in some cases, company during their travels. However, with the good comes the bad and not all cities are fans of the gamechanging enterprise. As some cities look to either ban or heavily regulate the peer-to-peer business program, they're looking for ways to maintain relevant in cities where the rules are changing and they've found the perfect solution to maintain relevancy no matter where they are.

Open Spotlight proved to be the best place to toast to this newcoming venture. Radio favorites Maroon 5 and Best Coast drew music fans in for the evening while foodies chowed down on grub provided by weekly pop-up market Smorgasburg. Lady Gaga made a surprise guest appearance to close out the night of revelry outside. Lines for a screening of La La Land and Strut & Fret's performances lined around their respective blocks, but perhaps our favorite section among the madness to check out was American Express's Shop Small Market. Here, we discovered local craftsmen eager to share their passion with the world and continue to grow their budding businesses.

First is Capricorn Press which carries a line of original artwork prints all personally printed by founder Molly Frances. Her work is inspired by Art Deco, Antiquarian books and illustrations, and the fashions of 1960's Carnaby Street in London. The Giving Keys, next in our line-up, is a jewelry line inspired by a hotel room key founder Caitlin Crosby wore on a tour and had the idea to engrave. Each key is unique and the company is committed to helping combat homelessness. We met with Mobile Retail Manager Whitney Eaton on-site. Next up, British born designer Natashia Miyazaki introduces us to Paper Machine, her self-funded retail capsule collection manufactured locally. She previously designed for Guess and Nasty Gal before starting her own line. Lastly, Venice-based artist Tyler Ramsey was given space to create in partnership with Toms, bringing his world of color for attendees to immerse themselves in and watch his creative process. We wanted to know some of their favorite trips, dream destinations and what experiences they would take others on.

Molly Frances, Capricorn Press

Tell us about one of your best travel experiences.
Paris! It's where I started my first collection of antiques books. The flea markets are full of tiny treasures. Digging through piles of papers and old maps and trunks filled with history was an awakening. I have prints that go back to the 18th Century and thinking about how these scraps of paper have survived centuries is inspiring. The endless details that were recorded through illustrations during the 18th and 19th Century are mind-blowing – every plant, animal, constellation. I have some favorite American constellation prints, but most of the prints I collect are French or German. Lately I’ve been obsessed with an artist name Grandville who did a lot of satirical drawings around the time of the French Revolution, many of them featuring dressed-up animals giving each other haircuts and acting out other human follies.

What cities have you always wanted to travel to? Why?
Berlin! For the books… and to see where my mother is from. To experience a city that is so heavy with history but has come out of darkness to remake itself in a more humanist image.

If you were to hosts guests in your city for a weekend, what activities would you take them to go do?
I would take them to see whales in the winter at Point Dume, early morning fog in venice with a matcha from Shuharia cafe and then head next door to get a tarot card reading by Marcella Kroll! Then drive them through downtown to see all the beautiful Art Deco buildings and theaters and Raymond Chandler spots. Dinner at Shojin Japanese in Little Tokyo.

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Whitney Eaton, The Giving Keys

Tell us about one of your best travel experiences.
One of my best travel experiences was during a tour I did of the US last year. I landed in Austin, TX, for SXSW. I immediately felt the amazing hospitality flowing through everything and everyone I interacted with. It really set the tone for the extension of my stay and made every experience there after even better. I'm a big music fan, and really connect to the Rock, Blues, and Americana music style that Austin represents. It's in the lifeblood of the city, and I felt the rhythm in most every experience I had. Austin also has amazing food, fashion, and art. I was pleasantly surprised with how progressive the city felt, yet balanced perfectly with the warm hospitality. Truly a special place. I can't wait to return.

What cities have you always wanted to travel to? Why?
I've always wanted to travel to Japan. It's a very diverse country with tons of adventure and culture. The technology, the food, the landscape all are extremely appealing to me. It's on my bucket list; I hope to visit within the next year or two.

If you were to hosts guests in your city for a weekend, what activities would you take them to go do?
I'm still relatively new to Los Angeles, so I have a long list of things I still would like to explore. Contrary to my previous impression of L.A., this city is actually quite diverse and truly offers something for everyone! I'd likely start the day with a hike up to Griffith Observatory, then head west to Malibu for brunch at Malibu Cafe on the pier, followed by a safari wine tour at Malibu Safari Winery. After maybe we'd head to Venice Beach for some shopping along Abbot Kinney and a sunset walk along the boardwalk. Of course we'd have to stop off at my fave coffee shop/cafe Menotti's for the best chai latte I've ever had – and I've had A LOT of chai lattes!! After, I'd take my guests to one of the best meals I've experienced in L.A. so far, Elf Cafe in my very own neighborhood of Echo Park. It's very quaint and cozy with amazing service and even better food. You feel like you're at your best friend's house. After dinner, we'd likely hit up The Echo or The Satellite for some live music before ending our night with killer specialty cocktails, outdoor garden and dancing at Tenants of the Trees.

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Natashia Miyazaki, Paper Machine

Tell us about one of your best travel experiences.
One of my greatest travel experiences was in Cambodia. It was an amazing trip because it was so diverse. I stayed there for 10 days and traveled around the whole country. From the breathtaking temples of Angkor Wat to the white sand and crystal blue waters of Sihanouk Ville. There are great markets with local textiles and Jewelry which were amazing inspirations. I love finding local crafts and treasures to bring back from my explorations to give me inspiration for my creativity. We traveled from Bangkok on a train that cost a dollar and took us to the border of Cambodia. Then we trekked on foot over the border. It was a proper adverture holiday. I felt like Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider movie and it was epic.

What cities have you always wanted to travel to? Why?
New York: Shopping, culture & food. It's a melting pot of people in a very high concentration. Lots more exciting things to do. Cuba: the colors, time warp effect, all the old 1950's American cars. Curious as it has just opened up to American tourism. Exclusivity and the feeling of discovering something new. Always love Adventures.

If you were to hosts guests in your city for a weekend, what activities would you take them to go do?
If I was to host, I would tell them to go to the L.A. Observatory. The view is amazing and also L.A. is so vast [that] it really helps to understand how and where everything is in relation to each other. [We'd go to] Coffee Collab, best coffee in town. Great people and vibes and good converstions. Flea markets, Rose Bowl or Long Beach. [They have] super cool vintage American products if you're into treasure hunting or getting unique souvenirs

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Tyler Ramsey, Artist

What cities have you always wanted to travel to? Why?
I've never been to Lisbon. I adore ex-Portuguese colonies. Goa and São Tomé rock! I've never seen the center of the action.

If you were to hosts guests in your city for a weekend, what activities would you take them to go do?
Venice is soooo easy. Get on bikes. Go eat at the best deli ultra-butcher, over-the-top California food done perfectly called Gjusta. Then, I would try to spy on Arnold [Schwarzenegger] next door at Gold's Gym and give my visitors celeb sighting. The Santa Monica Pier has trapeze lessons that are super easy but really exotic and wild and fun. I can't recommend that highly enough. I love to jump in the ocean. We have a super fun group leader that arranges awesome beach parties. I would also bring someone to my studio, trick then into helping me move stuff. I work in heavy materials and neon glass tubes. Terrible combo for one clumsy artist. My gallery is an incredibly hip eclectic co-working space called CTRL Collective. The influence of so many random geniuses starting new companies has changed my life. I spent 2 hours designing jeans in VR today...

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Photography by Robiee Ziegler

Katie Garfield

Katie Garfield

Alina Bea Comes Undone

Alina Bea Comes Undone