Credit: Israel Palacio

Meet Paul Basile, the Designer Behind Some of San Diego’s Most Notable Restaurants

Paul Basile Dishes on Past Projects and His Upcoming La Jolla Restaurant

For anyone acquainted with San Diego’s bar and restaurant scene, the name Paul Basile will ring more than just a few bells. Although Basile has designed for hotels and residential buildings, his design and fabrication studio, BASILE Studio, is best known for its work with restaurants—especially throughout San Diego.

If you’ve ever stopped in your tracks in Little Italy to stare at Born & Raised, marveled at Morning Glory’s maximalism or saved an Instagram post from Raised by Wolves, you have BASILE Studio to thank.

After opening his own restaurant in Barrio Logan in the early aughts, Basile became more in demand for restaurant projects. Since then, BASILE Studio has designed over 75 restaurants—95% of which are open and thriving to this day—including Underbelly, Puesto, Ironside, Born and Raised, The Nolan, Kindred and Cowboy Star.

Now, 20 years later, Basile and his fiancé, Jules Wilson of Jules Wilson Design Studio, are designing and opening their own restaurant in La Jolla. Envisioned as an upscale bar and restaurant, the two-story Roseacre is slated to open in the spring of 2025 and will offer a gorgeous experience both indoors and out. Guests of Roseacre can expect handcrafted cocktails, delicious food and, of course, incredible design work from the moment they see the front door.

Credit: Israel Palacio

Anyone who’s walked into any of the aforementioned restaurants knows how it feels to be greeted by Basile’s designs: you’re instantly offered an elevated experience that only heightens as you move through the space from the host station to your seat.

Although each of Basile’s projects shines with its own flair, the designer’s signature style still rings true. “One of the main things you notice is that there’s a language; it’s not always the same design, but there’s a feeling,” Basile explains.

“We always use natural materials and let them do their thing, like let them patina and rust and wear out—we don’t do glosses or lots of colors. Our main thing is using natural materials and using them in different and interesting ways.”

BASILE Studio San Diego
Credit: Paul Basile

According to Basile, much of his design philosophy stems from a sense of timelessness—not timelessness by way of a specific aesthetic, rather as a platform for novelty and pushing boundaries. “I think our style is timeless in the sense that we constantly are bringing out new ways to manipulate materials. We always have some kind of remnants of metal, wood and glass, and we love combining products and using them in a way they’ve never been used before…I think the design style is really more about innovation.”

Credit: Israel Palacio

It’s not unusual to walk into a space that Basile designed and see something you’ve never seen before, whether that’s a mechanical liquor display, a flip dot display or furniture that marries metal with wood joinery—all of which is made possible by BASILE Studio’s fabrication and mechatronic capabilities.

“We build everything,” Basile shares. “This allows us the opportunity to have extreme attention to detail, which I think is tough to do in design because you’re always relying on other people to perform the most important part, which is executing your design.”

Basile’s drive to steer the design industry dates back to before both the opening of his first restaurant in 2004 and his studio in 1994. His passion for pioneering design stems from his childhood as a fourth-generation builder. Growing up just outside of Detroit, Basile’s family lived on a large acreage where his father built their family home. Then, a next-door neighbor arrived and designed a modern home that incorporated an unusual shape and solar panels. “It was contemporary and interesting. I think that first piqued my attention,” Basile says.

“I had the construction background and then I really fell in love with design,” he continues. In college, Basile started with an emphasis on engineering before transitioning to architecture. At about 19, he moved to San Diego and began working in construction with his brother, where he learned to weld and work with materials like concrete and rebar. Then one fateful day, Basile saw a chair made of rebar, which sent his mind on a path of creativity and invention.

Credit: Paul Basile

“I think that was the start: my furniture was kind of my main reason for getting into design. It was really exciting what you could do with it. It had this like great rawness to it,” Basile says. Basile then began crafting his own line of furniture in the early ‘90s, which swiftly transformed into his design and fabrication studio; custom projects started rolling in and were becoming more and more ambitious.

Today, BASILE Studio is a space where traditional design methods and cutting-edge technology meet to create anything and everything Basile needs to bring his vision to life. “Our goal is always to try and be original… We’re very fortunate as a design team. We have about 30 craftsmen that work with us, and it’s pretty amazing what we can do,” Basile says. BASILE Studio works with a wide range of CNC equipment, which are automated machines pre-programmed by computers rather than controlled by hand. CNC helps them push for greater innovations across materials like upholstery, wood and especially metal. “Metal is kind of our main thing. Metal is where my heart is,” he adds. “We always like trying to use new kinds of key materials. We try not to be trendy—a lot of the stuff that we do is with natural materials.”

“I think having a style is actually not having one true direction. It kind of just takes you wherever you go—it’s more organic,” Basile shares. And by operating mostly out of San Diego, there’s plenty of space for Basile to try out fresh, new ideas, especially when it comes to Roseacre in La Jolla.

“San Diego has really grown over the last 10 or 15 years, and I feel like La Jolla hasn’t joined that yet,” Basile explains. With Roseacre, La Jolla residents Basile and Wilson aim to help make their neighborhood a culinary destination for locals and visitors alike.

Credit: Israel Palacio

“[Roseacre] is more of an opus,” Basile says, comparing this latest project to past restaurants he’s been a part of. “I don’t have a client. Even when I did my own restaurants, I did it with my partners—they were my clients in a way. With Roseacre, this is a client-less project, and I’m at a place in my career where I can do something like this. It’s really fun. I’m having such a good time!”

The combined efforts of Basile and Wilson, who is known for her multidisciplinary work and bold, elegant aesthetic, are sure to result in nothing short of breathtaking. According to Basile, future Roseacre patrons can anticipate a highly detailed (but not maximalist) nod to midcentury design and a strong focus on hospitality—both of which add to the restaurant’s ‘70s country club inspiration.

Credit: Israel Palacio

With years of restaurant experience under his belt, Basile ensures that Roseacre will be more than just a pretty face—it’ll have an incredible menu that links technique-driven food and beverage programs with the restaurant’s overall design.

“We have found a great chef who we think is super fitting for La Jolla,” Basil shares. “One of the things that resonated with me was when we talked to him, he said, ‘Look, most chefs are trying to add, add, add, add and then come up with a super long description of what they’re serving. I’m the opposite. I’m trying to take, take, take, take, take.’ That connected with us because I feel like that’s how we’re going to design the space: it’s really technique-driven and is there to please you, not to overwhelm you,” Basile continues. “[Design and food] have to connect perfectly… When we do restaurants, it’s important to understand the culinary experience because they have to be synonymous.”

Credit: Israel Palacio

While we all can’t wait for Roseacre’s opening day, BASILE Studio has plenty of projects on the horizon, especially ground-up work—one of which is a home he and Wilson are working on together. “We’re always going to do the restaurant gig; that’s our jam. But as far as the future of BASILE Studio, you’re going to start seeing a lot of development.”

 

BASILE Studio
@basile_studio

Writer | Website

Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.

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