by Andrew Maness
The growth that Downtown Los Angeles and its Arts District just east of the iconic skyline has been rapid and fascinating. One of the busiest areas is around the intersection of Mateo and 7th Streets, making the arrival of The House of Machines Los Angeles (at 2028 East 7th Street) that much more interesting. THoM LA is the third outpost for the South African company that first opened in Cape Town in 2013 and Niseko in 2016. The intention of each location is to serve as a hub where those with common interests can meet, share ideas, relax, eat, drink, build and study. THoM is nothing if not ambitious and, in partnering with BMW Mottorad, the intention is not just to foster an exisiting community, but also to bring new riders in and make them feel welcome.
Approachable venues like THoM LA are the key to making this happen, something perfectly illustrated by the number of people passing by poking their heads in the door during the press preview. More than a few families stopped to ask if they could come in and kids pressed their faces up against the large front windows. A dark and intimidating clubhouse this is not; THoM and BMW Mottorad made the venue as inviting as possible. At the east end of the space there’s a bar (helmed by cocktail guru Amanda Colom) that serves barrel-aged cocktails, local craft beer and Evil-Twin coffee. Small plates and snacks are handled by chef chef Bruce Kalman who presides over the kitchen at Union in nearby Pasadena. Then there’s Speed Shop, which is the domain of custom motorcycle-builders Chris and Fiona Richardson. Comprised of a workspace with tool benches and motorcycle lifts, there’s always a few customs in progress here.
Not only did THoM and Mottorad collaborate on this impressive venue, they also put together a limited run of clothing inspired by the motorcycle community named Limits No Longer Apply. Inspired by the freedom provided by driving on German autobahns where people are free to drive and ride as fast as they want, the name is apt. Heavyweight denim pieces and high end leather jackets are accompanied by minimally branded t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and accessories. When more space is needed for an event, the garment racks can be raised up to the ceiling joining the variety of helmets suspended by cables from the rafters. In addition to being practical and creating a form of decoration, it serves as a reminder that this is not just another store.
Between the vintage bikes on display, the customs being built and whatever might be parked out front on any given day, motorcyclists will surely find themselves drawn to LA’s THoM regularly. For those who don’t ride, the space is still worth a visit. Food and drinks aside, visitors are encouraged to talk to people in the motorcycling community and walk around the surrounding area. Ultimately THoM hopes to add value to DTLA and foster the community and culture there.
Images by Andrew Maness