An Industrial Los Angeles Workspace

An Industrial Los Angeles Workspace

Monica Wang
Aug 5, 2013

Name: The Great Company
Location: Downtown LA; Los Angeles, California
Size: 7,000 square feet
Years lived in: Less than 1 year

Located on the edge of Los Angeles' downtown Arts District, this old, industrial warehouse is a creative workspace redefined. The Great Company is a full-service content production, talent partnership and brand marketing company. The layout is designed to comfortably accommodate both the staff and clients: there are multiple meeting and communal spaces, a recording studio and stage, a large kitchen, and rear office area.

After entering the graffiti-tagged building, an industrial freight elevator wisks you up to the workspace, complete with original wood floors, red brick walls and ceiling skylights. Various historical accessories — a World War II-era bike, a (still functional!) vintage coin machine, a Fred Miller studio light and a copper baptismal basin — blend with modern-day industrial tables, chairs, American flags and pendant lights.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Representing the Future by Re-presenting the Past. In other words, honoring the past by implementing historic values with a futuristic, forward-driven interpretation.

Inspiration: We really love films like "Sky Captain World of Tomorrow," "The Rocketeer" and "Hugo" — films that combine late 19th century history and aesthetics with 20th century, futuristic concepts. We're also inspired by the innovation and creativity of the Steampunk movement.

Favorite Element: The original wood flooring from 1906. The floors had been painted over several times during its century of use, so we had to sand-blast the floors then sand them over twice. Then we used three coats of water-based varnish to bring out its elegance. The sanding took three weeks (we just projected one week), and our exhausted contractor shared with us that in over 20 years of contract work, he had never worked with wood of such fine quality. It still amazes us as we step on these floors each day.

We've incorporated this experience into the core ethos of our company: we work with artisans and brands to strip away the layers of society's excesses and reveal their true beauty to the world.

Biggest Challenge: Balancing the vision and balancing the books. The materialization of The SEED Center has been executed with very limited resources; the challenge has been in figuring out how to deliver the functional aesthetics and sense of timelessness in each area within a reasonable budget.

We spent many mornings hunting through flea markets and estate or garage sales, and long afternoons roaming the aisles of Home Depot in search of the "missing parts." One of our best finds was a set of beautiful metal lockers that had been shipped from France in 1910 that we picked up at the Rose Bowl Market in Pasadena.

In the evenings, we would stay up scouring the Internet for artisans with whom we could collaborate for the finishing details. For example, we had one design a one-of-a-kind set of sconces for our wall lighting, and another created a mason jar stacked chandelier for our kitchen. We also have a Zepplin-inspired steel plated wall made just for our recording and post-production studio.

What Clients Say: When they first arrive, most of our guests don't really know what to say, especially because of the graffiti and the industrial warehouse look of our neighborhood. When they do finally come in and take the tour, we usually hear something like, "Wow" or "This isn't what I expected...." Nearly everyone leaves our place with awestruck smiles and the promise of a return visit.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our heritage tones are Chianti, Innocence, and Indigo — normally paired with burnished steel and copper detailing. Steel is common in the 20th century industrial buildings and is easy to find, but copper is another story. And it's more expensive.

We originally wanted to add copper to our HVAC ducts, electrical conduits, and pendant lamp interiors, but we couldn't get access to the necessary copper. We found our solution in about 200 cans of Rust-oleum spray paint. We ended up with sore fingers, but it was totally worth it. Copper, ladies and gentlemen.

Proudest DIY: The centerpiece at the farthest corner of our office space (what we call "The Bridge") is one of our proudest achievements. We collaborated with artisan clock maker Joe Evans Heart to imagine, design and hand-build the 60" horological behemoth we call our "Chronocross Clock."

Inspired by both horology ("the art or science of making time pieces or of measuring time") and navigation, it is a bi-functional hybrid that carries elements of both a clock and compass in its intricate details. It serves as a motivator and daily reminder that we must pay attention to the moral direction of our company as well as how we steward our time and resources.

Our other prized item is the set of three scrolls hand-scribed for us with "The Great Company" by calligrapher David Chang. He created the script (we're calling it "Pangean") just for us, and we feel it really represents who we are. It's a seamless combination of eastern and western written art forms in an elegant, "Language of the Future" sort of way.

Biggest Indulgence: We spend a lot of time in our kitchen, snacking and brainstorming at the same time. We used to do a lot of team collaboration and meetings at our over-sized conference table, but once our kitchen was completed, we found ourselves spending more and more time around the kitchen island. All of our big ideas seem to come from there.

Best Advice: You never know 'til you try. If you are given the gift of vision from above, then anything is possible.

Resources of Note:

Thanks, Carl, the rest of the team, and H Shahani for the group photo!

(Images: Monica Wang)

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