Call it the ultimate concoction: Part cocktail bar, part concept boutique, Raised By Wolves offers a novel way to pair two of the world’s greatest escapes: shopping and drinking. Located in La Jolla’s Westfield UTC, the hybrid hangout offers a total departure from all things associated with the typical mall. Raised by Wolves is a stunning, completely immersive environment that takes you far, far away from Abercrombie, Anthropologie and the like.
“The idea was to take people into another world,” says interior designer Paul Basile of Basile Studio, who has collaborated with CH Projects on more than a dozen of their restaurants and bars, including art deco-inspired Born & Raised, Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar, Craft & Commerce and El Dorado. For this project, Basile took an entirely different approach to the design, going full-throttle on creating authentic period rooms. “When you enter, there’s a boutique bottle shop done in French Nouveau style, which is one of the hardest to emulate,” he says. “That was part of the thrill.” Known for intricate handcarved elements echoing shapes in nature, the style demanded that Basile find ways to handmanipulate steel and carve ornate moldings for elements such as the custom curved settees. From there, visitors time-travel through Franco design, moving from an art deco library until finally arriving (via hidden access) in a French country-inspired lounge area complete with floral patterns, flagstone flooring and 20th century antique furniture.
“We created a double-sided fireplace that rests on a turntable,” Basile says. “When you push a button, it flips the wall and puts you into the lounge. It’s a very dramatic entrance.”
The drama continues once inside the circular lounge, reinforced by a series of out-of-the-box design concepts: The dome-shaped ceiling is made to look like a glass pergola. Basile heightened the drama by creating a lighting system that gradually gets darker and darker during the time it takes to savor a cocktail. In the restrooms, jet-black ceilings are studded with fiber optics that twinkle like stars in a night sky.
If it all seems like an Alice in Wonderland-like experience, that’s part of the core concept: “A sense of escapism had to be part of the process for this,” says CH Projects’ co-founder, Arsalun Tafazoli. “This was about making a statement and really controlling the experience for people who come here.”
As for why a renegade restaurateur would open a bar in a fancy mall with zero urban edge to it, Tafazoli is clear: “Malls are in flux right now, and there’s a potential renaissance happening. Ralph Lauren is opening coffee shops and bakeries in stores. People are looking for ways to engage people who want to do more than just shop.” The UCSD grad adds that this model has particular relevance in the area. “La Jolla has an amazing community—there are Nobel laureates living here, an amazing college; it’s a unique community. But there’s no nucleus. And that’s something UTC can offer.”