A handblown Murano glass chandelier floats above the circular bar. A graffiti mural serves as its backdrop. The walls are covered with art from around the world, there is a lounge dedicated to rotating design installations, and nearly everything you see is for sale. From your plate to the walls to the furnishings and light fixtures, you’re constantly taking it all in—truly a feast for the eyes. Welcome to LIQUID ART HOUSE, the Back Bay’s new hybrid art gallery/restaurant/design showroom. Its slogan? “Eat your art out.”
LAH was founded by former Wall Street investment banker RUTA LAUKIEN, who came up with the concept while in law school. 15 years later, Laukien turned her attentions away from investment banking and focused on her passion for art, food, design, and entrepreneurship. Her team consists of award-winning chef RACHEL KLEIN (Top Chef’s Stacy Cogswell also recently joined the kitchen), designer DARTAGNAN BROWN, and art director SILVI NACI, among others.
So what makes LAH different from any other restaurant with art on its walls? Well, a lot. Along with rotating exhibitions, the space features live-art performances and pop-up shows. But the real trick is in creating a fluid dialogue between exhibition, menu, and atmosphere. Just as in a well-prepared dish or a painted canvas, all elements complement each other without overwhelming.
“As we rotate the exhibits here,” says Naci, “I work with the chefs and bartenders to curate menu items that will reflect the artwork on display.” Each member of the team takes a cue from the pieces that adorn the walls and reworks their interpretations into special plates and imaginative cocktails. Naci describes the process as a “seamless dance,” in which all elements maintain a precise but exhilarating balance.
Ultimately, the space hopes to bring in a wide spectrum of Boston residents and encourage them to really engage with the art on view. Naci admits that getting patrons comfortable interacting with the art is one of the challenges they face, but as their business and clientele grow, Laukien’s mission to create “an approachable environment where more people can participate in art” is being realized. “Today, LAH attracts everyone from wealthy collectors to the proverbial starving artist,” says Naci, “so it seems to be working.”
What’s next at LAH? Stop by later this month to grab a drink and check out the new exhibition Berlin Walled, featuring art from around the world inspired by the Kunsthaus Tacheles (the famous department store taken over by artists after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989).
On View: 2/23–4/30 | 5pm–midnight