An interview of Thomas with lots of photos!
Artist, designer, developer and entrepreneur, Thomas Schoos has brought his unique brand of creative expression to a wide range of design projects, from distinctive private residences to award-winning hotels and restaurants. Drawing on his roots as a sculptor and painter, Schoos continues to re-imagine and explore the possibilities of art and design, combining styles, textures and influences from many cultures and media to create new experiences that are as vibrant and original as they are successful.
Thomas Schoos was born in Neuerburg, Germany and educated in Düsseldorf. After graduation, the young Schoos apprenticed as a stone sculptor, although painting was his true passion. His early success painting backgrounds for fashion designers convinced him that he should pursue this passion as a career, leading the artist to pursue new opportunities in Los Angeles. Schoos adapted quickly to the city’s artistic diversity and opened his own studio/boutique with business partner Michael Berman. Berman was instrumental in getting Schoos’ talents recognized in the local art scene and Schoos quickly developed a wide following, including celebrities like Sharon Stone and Laurence Fishburne. Schoos continued exploring and branching out into new areas such as landscape and interior design. In 1997, he designed a home for Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, which was soon followed by more residential projects for celebrities like Ashley Simpson, Courtney Cox-Arquette, Ellen DeGeneres, Tommy Motolla and Jessica Simpson.
From his breakthrough commercial restaurant project TAO Asian Bistro in Manhattan to the celebrity-packed Koi in Los Angeles, Schoos has left his mark on many of the most talked-about restaurants worldwide. In 2003, Schoos and Berman opened O-Bar in West Hollywood, not only designed by Schoos but also owned and operated by the partners. The seductive venue won acclaim for both cuisine and design, earning “Best Restaurant Design” from Angeleno magazine in 2004. In 2006, Schoos transformed Santa Monica’s Huntley Hotel and Penthouse Restaurant into one of L.A.’s most chic and sophisticated boutique hostelries, which was named by Condé Nast Traveler in its 10th Annual “Hot List” of the World’s Top New Hotels, featured in Architectural Digest and named one of the Top Ten New Hotels in the Americas by Tablet 10 Magazine.
In 2005, Schoos designed Tao Restaurant and Nightclub at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, which quickly became the top-grossing restaurant in the U.S. and has remained so every year since.
Numerous other restaurant, hotel and commercial projects followed, including four restaurants for Iron Chef Morimoto in Hawaii; California, New York and Mexico City; Hotel Frank and The Vertigo Hotel in San Francisco. In 2012, Schoos’ modernist design for Morimoto Mexico City was named one of two finalists in the Hospitality Design Awards for Fine Dining.
Recently, Schoos has garnered acclaim for his partnership with Brian Malarkey (Top Chef and The Taste) on six restaurants: the original Searsucker in the Gas Light District of San Diego; more Searsuckers in Del Mar, CA, Scottsdale, AZ and Austin, TX; Gabardine in Point Loma; and Herringbone in La Jolla, California, which includes six massive indoor olive trees and a chandelier created from a whale skeleton. The décor of the original Searsucker contributed to the venue being named the second most popular restaurant in the U.S. in 2011. More Searsuckers and a new Herringbone in Los Angeles are coming soon.
The last few years have seen Schoos going more international, with projects in Beijing, Taipei and the south of France. Last year, Ellipsis opened in Mumbai, the first project Schoos has designed in India.
Meanwhile, Schoos has continued his career as an artist and painter, contributing original works to many of his projects and even incorporating art into the structure and design of his restaurants. For instance, the award-winning Morimoto Mexico City drew on the modernist design of the Camino Real Hotel to inspire a restaurant with a cubist structure that contains numerous massive canvases by Thomas as well as an unusual “rope-art” installation that literally ties the whole restaurant together. Herringbone includes original paintings by Schoos as well as art made out of lobster traps containing lacquered puffer fish. Recently, Schoos designed an “art-restaurant” in Manhattan for chef Morimoto called Tribeca Canvas. The venue features original canvases by Schoos (hence the name Tribeca “Canvas”) that cover the walls and ceiling, creating a graphical forest. Schoos’ paintings may also be seen in galleries around the world, as well as dozens of private homes.
In addition to designing work for clients, Schoos has recently been creating his own new restaurant brands that he will design as well as co-own, including a new beach-themed coffee shop/restaurant called Beach Nation that opened this May in West Hollywood. He is also developing an Alpine-themed restaurant called Ludwig that will open next year at the Original Farmer’s Market/The Grove in L.A. This year, Schoos opened a new showroom/retail store called Schoos Night next to the Schoos Design offices in West Hollywood. Click here for info on Schoos Night.
When he is not working – or even when he is! -- Thomas loves to travel and collect treasures from around the world for use in his own artwork, for design projects, or to sell in Schoos Night.