Sydney: Who are you? And what do you do? 

Dominic: I'm Dominic Mueller. I have a lot of things going on. I have an advertising agency called Acre Creative, so I work in production. And then I also have an art gallery that I'm opening soon, sometime next year. And then the other big thing is I'm opening a bar & restaurant in Echo Park. I do a lot of different things. My background is art and I just ended up in production for most of my life. I’m ow fading out of that and into something different, which is more art and the bar-restaurant world. 

Sydney: What is Dada? 

Dominic: Dada is whatever you want it to be honestly, like, the Dada artists movement from the 1920s. For me, that’s when art really kinda started happening, with the Readymades. A lot of other artists like Warhol wouldn't exist without Dadaism. This idea of turning art on its head, basically, and rethinking what art is. Art is everything, but it's also there's a whole manifesto behind it. 

Sydney: It is also fun to say. 

Dominic: It is.

Sydney: Okay, so you kind of already answered what led you to opening this restaurant. How did you choose who to work with, and where do you get your design inspo? 

Dominic: My business partner Christine had the space. And she was like, Hey, do you want to open a bar-restaurant? It took me a couple of days to think about it, because honestly, it's such a crazy thing to do. It wasn't straight out the gate “okay, I want to do that”. And then once I decided to do it, it was like boarding the plane to a project in Alaska or somewhere. And then I was reading this book about the Dadaists, and that's when the thought popped into my head. And I remember texting Christine “DADA”. So then it became this art thing for me. And that's the segue into clearing out the space and creating the canvas, which is what I always do when it comes to space. I've done a few spaces in my life, houses, and I've helped other people do spaces, I’ve helped create the canvas. A lot of that with the restaurant was clearing the vocabulary that was in there before I came in, which was just too heavy. It didn't feel like California, didn’t feel like LA. So we had to clear the canvas.

And that's how I happened upon Jonathan, like it was meant to be. 

I remember going into your shop and thinking Ohhh, THIS. Because for me Dada was playful. I wanted it to be somewhere where you would walk in and it has this play happening, but it’s also very clean. For a while, I thought about doing the restaurant as an art gallery, but then after building it out and doing Jonathan's chandeliers and sconces, and when built the sink and mirror, I was I was like: oh, THAT is the art. 

So the art became what we were doing with the space, and not about hanging art on the wall or photography or any of that. I just killed all that because it was really the collaboration with Jonathan, ultimately. 

Also, I grew up in a Catholic family in old Hollywood, and part of the inspo for the sink was these urns that hold the holy waters in churches, and I thought it would be so cool to do something in that vein, related to purification. The sink and mirror became such a big part of the space. I'm actually doing matchbooks with the phrase “Dada… where you go to wash your hands” 

Sydney: What was the creative process like when working with Entler? 

Oh, it has been super fun. We definitely have a rapport and an energy together. That's really it for me, I don't know what Jonathan thinks. But it has just always been fun. I want to inspire, and kind of push things always, that's my nature. And not everyone's into that. But for whatever reason, we have a rhythm. It's pretty radical, I think. Every time we connect, even if we're depressed, it becomes fun because of the work we can do together. That's hard to find. It's hard to find new people in your life when you get to a certain age, at least, finding people that you can collaborate with, especially something creative. Yeah, I do think it's rare. The willingness to do stuff and get excited about it. A childlike fascination with what's possible. And then just kind of clicking through and going, YEAH, that's IT! 

Jonathan: And then we make the stuff, put it in the room, and it's even better than we thought. That all flowed as we went through the process. And we started with only a few lights. I think you said something like, I don't want to have too much Entler in there. Then two months later, as we got into it, we decided we were just gonna go all the way and make all of it.

Dominic: It’s true. I remember thinking I had other ideas about whatever other pieces I like, and I could do this or that. And then after getting going, recognizing that the first Entler pieces were all connected, so it became the language of the whole space, they're kind of talking to each other in a way and they just became the space itself.

Jonathan: A big part of my endeavor with the lights and the brand, is to create something adaptable, to have that outcome, to have that kind of experience of like, oh yeah, we can make this whole thing one story that's all connected and, and is relevant to the other parts of the story. Within Dada there are 5 main spaces which are all very different, have their own characteristics and ambiance, but the lights are a thread that goes through everything. 

Dominic: And one thing to add is that when we were collaborating, I would, say Okay, what about this, and what about that? There was never, ever a time where you didn't say, Yes, we can do that. Yes. Yes. Essentially, before I finish the question,  you're like, Yeah, done. We got that, we'll do that. We'll try that. I mean, that's, that's why I think we'll probably do something else together because it's so fun. And I know that it's endless, when you start to think about design and the materials that you're working with, it becomes this fantasy in a way but we also make it practical. Ultimately, we have to open a restaurant and turn the lights on, but that's it's all part of it, getting those things to reconcile. When you have a positive attitude and you have chemistry working together it's easier to reconcile the necessities with the creative part.

And sometimes things don't go right, like the mishap during installation, when part of the mirror frame fell on the beautiful sink and broke two of the ceramic parts. I was out of town for that. I didn't even hear about it until I came back, and I was like whoa, what happened here? And then the next day it was fixed. Well, that was amazing because I was away on a job when that happened. If you have that positive approach and the idea that there's nothing you can't do, when something happens that's not expected, it doesn't really matter. It's like, okay, challenge, figure it out.

Jonathan: It's just the same as the creative challenge. The answer to any kind of technical problem is just that we're committed to the outcome. And we have this idea and it's gonna happen one way or the other because we're motivated. 

Dominic: Yeah, totally. 

Sydney: And finally, when will open?

Dominic: Haha, I’ve made the mistake over the last year of setting a date to open a restaurant in Los Angeles. We've gone through  three of the major inspections now. We have two more to go, so.... Soon!