WORKAHOLIC // BRET WITKE
Bret Witke has lived many lives. He has owned, operated and designed various nightclubs and restaurants in the 1980’s and 90’s in Los Angeles that were heralded as the hippest places to be. Chic, irreverent and fueled by the energy of the artistic jet set, Bret’s clientele included Madonna, Herb Ritts and Matthew Rolston. Bret soon followed his success as a restaurateur and club owner with a first-of-its-kind interior design and lifestyle shop, ‘Russell Simpson’, a location that was an invaluable and cherished source for top international designers such as Kelly Wearstler, Paul Fortune, Waldo Fernandez, and Michael Smith. Naturally, his diverse talent, impeccable eye and ever-growing client list led him to establish his own interior design company. Witke Design Group was founded in 2004. Bret’s broad expanse of commercial and residential projects have ranged from Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright to Case Study Houses, along with some of LA’s most coveted restaurants and hotels including The Line hotel, Salt Air, Republique, and Jar. Bret’s celebrated interiors always tell a story of classic luxury and a life well-lived. Now he has found another outlet to put his finds on view at his gallery in LA Witke shop. Lush in texture, tone and hand-picked, one of a kind pieces he finds on his extensive travels.
Who are you and what do you do?
Bret Russell Witke, and I am a designer.
What made you turn to this direction?
I was born a designer and have never turned left or right. As long I can remember my eye always focused on how to make things look better. And being the child of a designer I was surrounded by a form of perfection that has translated into my career and my design choices. The apple doesn’t fall far as they say but in my mother’s case no apples ever fell on the ground because that would have looked messy.
Was this always your dream job?
Yes, always. It never occurred to me to do anything else.
How much of the week is work, how much is play?
100% work and 100% play. My mind never shuts off in either category. I get so much done one day and lots of fun doing it.
What has been the most exciting thing you have done with your work, and what is a dream situation you’d like to find yourself in?
JAR Restaurant and The Line Hotel are two projects that were, and still are, very exciting to me because I set out to design spaces that remain relevant even after the honeymoon stage. With JAR, for instance, I wanted to create a special place that was elegant and calming that brought people back again and again, a neighborhood joint with great food and a timeless familiarity.
How do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere I look and in everything I see.
How do you define your personal style, work and clothing, etc.?
A simple, classic, timeless uniform makes getting dressed everyday a quick and painless pleasure. I highly recommend it.
What’s something someone may not know about you?
I can barefoot water ski.
Anything else you would like to say or for us to know?