About Thomas Schoos

Artist, designer, developer and entrepreneur, Thomas Schoos has brought his unique brand of creative expression to a wide range of design projects, from distinctive private residences to award-winning hotels and restaurants.  Drawing on his roots as a sculptor and painter, Schoos continues to re-imagine and explore the possibilities of art and design, combining styles, textures and influences from many cultures and media to create new experiences that are as vibrant and original as they are successful.

Thomas Schoos was born in Neuerburg, Germany and educated in Düsseldorf.  After graduation, the young Schoos apprenticed as a stone sculptor, although painting was his true passion.  His early success painting backgrounds for fashion designers convinced him that he should pursue this passion as a career, leading the artist to pursue new opportunities in Los Angeles.  Schoos adapted quickly to the city’s artistic diversity and opened his own studio/boutique with business partner Michael Berman.  Berman was instrumental in getting Schoos’ talents recognized in the local art scene and Schoos quickly developed a wide following, including celebrities like Sharon Stone and Laurence Fishburne.  Schoos continued exploring and branching out into new areas such as landscape and interior design.  In 1997, he designed a home for Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, which was soon followed by more residential projects for celebrities like Ashley Simpson, Courtney Cox-Arquette, Ellen DeGeneres, Tommy Motolla and  Jessica Simpson.

From his breakthrough commercial restaurant project TAO Asian Bistro in Manhattan to the celebrity-packed Koi in Los Angeles, Schoos has left his mark on many of the most talked-about restaurants worldwide. In 2003, Schoos and Berman opened O-Bar in West Hollywood, not only designed by Schoos but also owned and operated by the partners. The seductive venue won acclaim for both cuisine and design, earning “Best Restaurant Design” from Angeleno magazine in 2004.  In 2006, Schoos transformed Santa Monica’s Huntley Hotel and Penthouse Restaurant into one of L.A.’s most chic and sophisticated boutique hostelries, which was named by Condé Nast Traveler in its 10th Annual “Hot List” of the World’s Top New Hotels, featured in Architectural Digest and named one of the Top Ten New Hotels in the Americas by Tablet 10 Magazine.

In 2005, Schoos designed Tao Restaurant and Nightclub at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, which quickly became the top-grossing restaurant in the U.S. and has remained so every year since. 

Numerous other restaurant, hotel and commercial projects followed, including four restaurants for “Iron Chef” Morimoto in Hawaii; California, New York and Mexico City; and the Hotel Frank and The Vertigo Hotel in San Francisco. In 2012, Schoos’ modernist design for Morimoto Mexico City was named one of two finalists in the Hospitality Design Awards for Fine Dining.   

Recently, Schoos has garnered acclaim for his partnership with Brian Malarkey (“Top Chef” and “The Taste”) on six restaurants: the original  Searsucker in the Gas Light District of San Diego; more Searsuckers in Del Mar, CA, Scottsdale, AZ and Austin, TX; Gabardine in Point Loma; and two Herringbone restaurants.  The décor of the original Searsucker contributed to the venue being named the second most popular restaurant in the U.S. in 2011.  The first Herringbone in La Jolla, California includes six massive indoor olive trees and a chandelier created from a whale skeleton, while the second on the Sunset Strip in LA is an upscale, jeweled recreation of the rustic brand for Hollywood celebrities. 


The last few years have seen Schoos going more international, with projects in Beijing, Taipei and the south of France.  In 2012, Ellipsis opened in Mumbai, the first project Schoos has designed in India. In 2012-13, he designed two George restaurants in Beijing and Taipei and consulted on the Hotel Eclat in Beijing. Schoos has also continued to be recognized with design awards, including a double nomination for the Gold Key awards in 2013 for both Herringbone in La Jolla and Figue in La Quinta, California– representing two of the year’s three finalists!  And this year he won the Gold Key award in the casual dining category for Puesto in San Diego!

In addition to designing work for clients, Schoos has recently been creating his own new restaurant brands that he will design as well as co-own, including a new beach-themed coffee shop/restaurant called Beach Nation that opened this May in West Hollywood.  More partnerships such as this are currently in the works.

Meanwhile, Schoos has continued his career as an artist and painter, contributing original works to many of his projects and even incorporating art into the structure and design of his restaurants.  For instance, the award-winning Morimoto Mexico City drew on the modernist design of the Camino Real Hotel to inspire a restaurant with a cubist structure that contains numerous massive canvases by Thomas as well as an unusual “rope-art” installation.  All of Schoos’ restaurants for Brian Malarkey include massive original canvases featuring art on the theme of food.  Recently, Schoos has been at work on a series of canvases meant to bring attention to the plight of endangered species and featuring almost life-sized renderings of a shark, an ostrich, a rhinoceros and a walrus.  Schoos’ paintings may be seen in galleries around the world, as well as in dozens of private homes.

To find out more about the life, musings and artistic inspirations of Thomas Schoos, please visit WORLD IN MIND, the Thomas Schoos blog.