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Vera Mulyani, Mars architect

California Questionnaire: Vera Mulyani

California Questionnaire: Vera Mulyani
The entrepreneur has sunk her roots in the Golden State as she works toward making life on Mars possible

Vera Mulyani is an award-winning architect and filmmaker as well as founder and CEO of Mars City Design, an international collaboration that is designing and developing sustainable facilities and cities for life on Mars. The Indonesia-born, France-raised entrepreneur has been called a “Marschitect.”

Although her work has an extraterrestrial component, Mulyani believes the geography of California is crucial to mankind’s future and will be constructing habitat prototypes in the Mojave Desert through 3D printing. “It is not enough to just travel to Mars and survive, now we must develop a way in which we can sustainably live and love on Mars,” she says. “It is essential that we call on a new generation of thinkers and innovators to make this a reality.”

We asked Mulyani to share some of her favourite aspects of this planet—specifically in California—and she gladly obliged.

Where do you live? I live in Marina Del Rey, which is south of Santa Monica and Venice Beach.

Why there? The area is known as “Silicon Beach” because there are lots of innovative start-ups, which have established a new, flourishing tech hub outside of Silicon Valley. It attracts quite a unique and diverse crowd who are very arty and creative. I love being part of that energy. I also love being close to the ocean and enjoying the sun.

Who or what is your greatest California love? California is a geyser of innovation and futuristic technology is one of the things that I love most about it. Elon Musk is one of my inspirations—he is living innovation! I also love the diverse colours of California, what I call the “art of life,” everything from the yellow deserts, blue ocean, red sunsets, and green Topanga in the mountains

What is the biggest misperception about Californians? There’s probably a misperception that people are dumb and have a lot of plastic surgery.

What’s the stereotype that most holds true? California really is the world’s trendsetter and technology innovator—our future lifestyles will be created here.

What’s your favorite Golden State splurge? My splurge would be flying a private jet. I have already completed over 20 hours of pilot flying time and simulation training. I dream of taking to the skies, eventually to space, and truly seeing California from Earth’s orbit.

Time for a road trip. Where are you going? I would start off in Malibu for breakfast by the water at Malibu Pier, then travel up the Pacific Coast Highway, driving a Tesla Model S, taking in the amazing ocean views. I’d continue to Santa Barbara, stopping off at small organic vineyards on the way for wine tasting. I’d continue to drive to Los Olivos for lunch and visit local Californian gift shops. At Los Olivos, I’d stroll around town, admire the bougainvillea blossoms, and the smell of wild hibiscus. Then I’d head East, to the Mojave Desert, to arrive in time for sunset. I’d admire the early evening colours on the horizon, which light up the desert with a rainbow hue. I’d find the perfect spot to have a picnic in the dark, look up the night sky and see Mars—along with millions of stars. I’d look out for tiny satellites and comets crossing the Milky Way. If I’m really lucky, I’d be doing this to the sound of coyotes, owls, and crickets in the background.

If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be? Kale-fornia! California’s Salinas Valley is known as the “salad bowl of the world,” because most of our vegetables are grown there. But kale is my favourite—it’s full of fibre, is very versatile, and has a unique taste. In California, you can get kale smoothies, kale chips, kale martinis, even kale nail polish!

Best California song? I could say “Life on Mars” by David Bowie but that became Californian only recently when SpaceX played the song for the Falcon 9 launch of Starman on Elon Musk's Roadster! To be honest, my California soundtrack is the sound of the Malibu waves drumming on the shore.

How would your California dream day unfold? My dream day would go something like this: I’d get up and make French coffee, then sit and do my one-hour “NamMyohoRengeKyo” chanting meditation session. Then I’d make breakfast, a fusion of Indonesian/French/Californian flavours, and take it to the beach. After breakfast, I’d swim for a few miles, and if this was a pure fantasy day I’d hitch a ride with the dolphins to Catalina Island, which lies southwest of Los Angeles. The island is known for its wonderful wildlife and diving. I’d get an adrenalin rush by riding the Zip Line Eco Tour, zooming at 45 miles per hour at 300 feet above the canyon floor for almost a mile! Then I’d go on a hike to spot wildlife like bison, bald eagles, and island foxes. I’d end the day with a piña colada on an outside terrace with a lovely view of the ocean.

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Ryan Killackey

Southern California

Discover Los Angeles County

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Average (°C)
Sept - Nov
Sept - Nov
Mar - May
June - Aug

See a movie star. Sip a cocktail on a rooftop bar at sunset. Slip on a pair of designer shoes in an ultra-luxurious boutique in Beverly Hills. Play at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, explore world-class museums, or dance the night away in a starlet-filled club. Welcome to California’s liveliest city, entertainment capital of America, with megastar wattage and nonstop activities.

“You know, you’re really a nobody in L.A. unless you have a really big door.”  –comedian Steve Martin

The main hub is the City of Los Angeles, with legendary Hollywood northwest of downtown, the San Fernando Valley to the east, and the inviting beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu to the west.

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Spotlight: Los Angeles

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Bright lights, A-list celebrities & diverse culture

Welcome to the bright lights and big-city allure of California’s largest metropolis. Here, A-list celebrities really do walk the sidewalks, triple...

All around L.A. County, shoppers can find today’s trends at amazing prices

Homegrown Los Angeles fashion runs the gamut from red-carpet-ready looks by Rodarte to slouchy, soft T-shirts by James Perse, which makes this county...

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Hero Images/Getty Images
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Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

La Brea Tar Pits

Find fossils and family-friendly fun at this prehistoric excavation site

Your idea of old may be 100, but that will undoubtedly change after you spend several hours at the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum. You will learn...

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"The Squaw Man" was filmed in 1913, and was the first feature-length film made in Hollywood.
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Neil Kremer/ Flickr

Spotlight: Hollywood

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Showbiz, celebrities, & endless possibilities

Tinseltown, where starlets are discovered on every street corner (or at least we like to think they are), and the tinted windows of that stretch...

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Laura Flippen

Celebrity Spotting

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Where to see stars in Hollywood

Stargazing takes on a different meaning in Tinseltown. While there’s no guarantee you’ll spy a familiar face when you’re here, there are some...

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Courtesy of Visit West Hollywood

West Hollywood

A designer’s dream with shops, architecture, and style

West Hollywood has been dubbed “The Creative City,” and for good reason. Bordering Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, “Weho” is where fashion and the...

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Courtesy of West Hollywood

Sunset Strip Nightlife

Welcome to L.A.’s home of rock ‘n’ roll

Few roads have as much history as this 2-mile-/3.2-km-long section of Sunset Boulevard, bounded by Havenhurst Drive and Doheny Drive. In the 1960s...

For me, returning to Los Angeles annihilates the memories of where I have just been with an astonishing speed.
Henry Rollins
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Courtesy of Chris Burden/Museum Associates/LACMA

LA Museums

See masterpieces and innovative contemporary works

With its diverse collection of museums, Los Angeles has grown into one of the world’s great cities for art lovers. From the dramatically modern...

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Sharon Mollerus/ Flickr

Los Angeles County Shopping

Go boutique to bargain in one of the world’s fashion (and shopping) capitals

You’ll definitely want to leave room in your suitcase for L.A. shopping.

If you’re ready to whip out the platinum card, head to Rodeo Drive...

Make memories at some of California's family-favorite beaches

Sand, water, and kids—it’s a natural combination for easy family fun. This sandy dozen offers appealing, family-friendly features, such as calm water for new swimmers, tide pools for intrepid...

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Alex Farnum
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Joakim Lloyd Raboff

Spotlight: Santa Monica

California Questionnaire: Vera Mulyani vca_maps_losangeles
Visit the perfect sunny strip for sand, surf, and shopping

This oceanfront city, bounded by a 3½-mi/5½-km-long beach, feels like a weekend getaway spot even though it’s only 15 miles/24 kilometers west of...

Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini Ufos. Artisanal cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets...

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Laura Flippen
Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

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Michael Saechang/Flickr
World-class accommodations in world-class locations

Head to the heart of California’s cities for luxurious stays at world-class accommodations. From San Francisco’s historic hotels to celebrity hot spots in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, California’s...

California Questionnaire: Vera Mulyani PalaceHotel_LynGateley_preview_686x885
Lynn Gately/Flickr
Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try our farmers...

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Taste the delicious dishes from these amazing California chefs

From a candy-colored pastry shop to Michelin-starred dining rooms, top restaurants run by celebrity chefs dot the Golden State. And even if you don’t know these chefs from the TV...

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Jen Judge


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Surfers, skateboarders, and stars

Venice is the ultimate L.A. neighborhood where the surf meets the human circus. Spend a day along Venice’s palm-lined, beachfront boardwalk and...

Discover quintessential sun and fun at these coastal charmers

Take one part water, one part sand, one part sun-soaked coastal charm, and you’ve got the recipe for some of California’s most appealing destinations. The Golden State’s beach towns stand out for...

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Lucas Himovitz
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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Long Beach

Experience the many sides of a dynamic coastal city

With beaches and marinas along its waterfront and a busy dining and shopping scene on downtown’s Pine Avenue, Long Beach blends big city...

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Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles

L.A.'s Poshest Spas

Champagne tastes and caviar treatments

In Tinseltown, one would expect an abundance of extravagant spas, and the city does not disappoint. Treat yourself to an experience of ultimate...

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Jen Judge

L.A. Architecture

See eye-catching icons and stately landmarks

While Los Angeles is still a young city when compared to places like, say, Rome, it still boasts a unique architectural tradition that spans a...

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Lancaster's Civic Musical Road is the only "musical" or "singing" road in the United States.
Hands-on fun for all at farms, ranches, and fields statewide

From almonds and olives up north to avocados, oranges, and dates in South, the Golden State has a crop (or 10) for nearly every stretch of terrain. After all, ...

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Tai Power Seeff
February or March

You certainly won’t be the only one celebrating the Lunar New Year at this colorful event in L.A.’s Chinatown. Join thousands of revelers lining the parade route as lion dancers and giant dragons...

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Jorge Gonzalez/Flickr
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Unleash the kid within at California’s ultimate playgrounds

From Disneyland classics to beachfront carousels, the Golden State’s best-in-class theme parks deliver something for everyone. Take a tram ride to tour movie back lots at Universal Studios...

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Lucas Himovitz
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Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

La Brea Tar Pits

Find fossils and family-friendly fun at this prehistoric excavation site

Your idea of old may be 100, but that will undoubtedly change after you spend several hours at the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum. You will learn...

California Questionnaire: Vera Mulyani VC_MasterChefAustralia_FoodTrucks_Food-Truck-Chef-Wes-Avila-and-MasterChef-Australia-Judges_1280x640
Courtesy of MasterChef Australia

Great L.A. Food Trucks

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Tacos, grilled cheese, and health food all live in harmony on the streets of Los Angeles

From gourmet chefs experimenting with tacos to funky ice cream sandwiches, you might be surprised what you can find on the streets of L.A. Food...

The Gamble House in Pasadena, California
Carol M. Highsmith/Getty Images


Tour an Arts and Crafts masterpiece and more, in the home of the Rose Bowl

Set at the base of the towering San Gabriel Mountains, Pasadena is best known as the home of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade and the...

Watch celebrity chefs in action at this annual event in downtown Los Angeles

If you’re a foodie, your definition of “celebrity sighting” in Los Angeles has little to do with movie stars. Instead, the annual All-...

A delicious snack prepared at the All-Star Chef Classic in Los Angeles
Bernstein Associates/Getty Images
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The genus of the state’s official flower, the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is named in honor of Dr. J. F. von Eschscholtz, a surgeon and naturalist who explored the California coast with Russian expeditions from 1815 to 1818.