Growing up in the South Bay, Anand Sheth saw the world through the disparate perspectives around him: the traditional Indian culture of his immigrant parents, the school he attended in Redondo Beach, and the realities his friends in South L.A. encountered every day. “I got to see firsthand how the built environment affects people,” he says.
Itching for something different, at age 17 he set out for San Francisco. There, he enrolled at the California College of the Arts, earning a degree in architecture and interning at nonprofits like Architecture for Humanity and Public Architecture. The experience, he says, galvanized his belief that architecture hasn’t traditionally reflected the needs of the end user.
“We want to believe that everything that’s built around us is a direct representation of who we are and what we need as humans,” he says. “But it’s really a projection, because so many decisions are made before a building is even built. There’s a fiction we all subscribe to in order to understand buildings.”
In 2021, after a decade at awardwinning Studio BBA, where he ultimately served as design director and worked on such projects as the Manufactory in downtown L.A, Sheth opened his own firm. His design projects have been remarkably diverse, ranging from the creation of a dynamic headquarters in the Mission District for technology company Retool to the transformation of an abandoned dive bar into a natural wine bar/vinyl-driven dance hall called Bar Part Time. Along the way he designed a two-level home and studio for himself in an 1885 building that displays his flair for experimentation.
Sheth can add three new projects to the list: Popi’s Oysterette oyster bar in the Marina District, a natural wine bar/strip bar on Folsom Street called Sluts, and a satellite headquarters in New York for Retool. Nearing completion is a flagship location for a mental health clinic in Berkeley and a home for art collectors in Noe Valley.
“It’s exciting to see all the ways residential design is different and also the same as my other projects,” he says. “Since a lot of my residential clients are building environments for gathering and hosting, I get to use a hospitality approach.”
Reflecting the “nimble” quality of his practice, he’s also expanding with satellite offices in L.A. and Brooklyn. “In some ways, my design studio is an art practice in disguise,” he says. “Though I’m deeply motivated by the end product, I want to honor the power of the process to make an impact, like how a human feels when they develop their own surroundings. I’m here for that. My licensed architect cap doesn’t sit on my head all day long.”