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L.A. Studio Tour

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On Saturday I had the good luck to wander around the East side of L.A. on the Materials and Applications Studio Tour. Though it's always nice to see how creative types work, what was most fascinating about this tour was that each of the firms on it doesn't practice architecture in any typical way. They're just as interested in art installations as they are in slick residences. In some cases, they could scotch residences all together and only do scrappy, urbanistic work. What's more, each firm—from the design-build work of architeture outfits Oyler Wu Collaborative and Urban Operations, to the public art work of Ball Nogues Studio and Didier Hess, to the biomorphic tech work of P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S—views architecture as the point of departure for their work, not necessarily the endpoint. It was a great tour and just one of the many events taking place out here as part of the L.A. Design Festival. With Dwell on Design still to come, there's plenty of great design events right now in Los Angeles.

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  This design tour started out strong at Materials and Applications HQ with this hot wristband. I loved the attention to detail in the printing here and was an auspicious sign right out of the gates.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    This design tour started out strong at Materials and Applications HQ with this hot wristband. I loved the attention to detail in the printing here and was an auspicious sign right out of the gates.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  Here's a view of Materials and Applications in Silver Lake as seen from their porch. The ramshackle front yard with its strong natural elements (the hedge and the pond) as well as the steel frame structure give a pretty good idea what the firm's approach to installation, technology, and making looks like.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    Here's a view of Materials and Applications in Silver Lake as seen from their porch. The ramshackle front yard with its strong natural elements (the hedge and the pond) as well as the steel frame structure give a pretty good idea what the firm's approach to installation, technology, and making looks like.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  Oliver Hess, one of the principals of Materials and Applications, led us through some of his firm's recent work in the studio downstairs.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    Oliver Hess, one of the principals of Materials and Applications, led us through some of his firm's recent work in the studio downstairs.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  One project he discussed at length is an installation on the facade of a firehouse in Baldwin Hills. Initially, he wanted plants creeping up the facade but had to settle for these patinated metal replicas replete with LED lights. The first paper models of the flowers are at the end of the table.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    One project he discussed at length is an installation on the facade of a firehouse in Baldwin Hills. Initially, he wanted plants creeping up the facade but had to settle for these patinated metal replicas replete with LED lights. The first paper models of the flowers are at the end of the table.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  Can't really say what all this stuff heaped in the Materials and Applications offices are used for, but I loved the juxtaposition of the cut metal and the salad bowl of Wiffle Balls.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    Can't really say what all this stuff heaped in the Materials and Applications offices are used for, but I loved the juxtaposition of the cut metal and the salad bowl of Wiffle Balls.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  The first three stops on the tour in Silver Lake were all within walking distance of one another. Here's a portion of the tour headed up to the offices of P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S on N. Occidental Blvd.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    The first three stops on the tour in Silver Lake were all within walking distance of one another. Here's a portion of the tour headed up to the offices of P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S on N. Occidental Blvd.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  Once we arrived at P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, we were met by Marcelo Spina who showed us his firm's work in organic and more "spiky" forms. They're quite technically savvy there, and much of their design is to do with advanced computer modeling. You can see prototypes and play with new materials on the wall behind Marcelo. A very different vibe than Materials and Applications.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    Once we arrived at P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, we were met by Marcelo Spina who showed us his firm's work in organic and more "spiky" forms. They're quite technically savvy there, and much of their design is to do with advanced computer modeling. You can see prototypes and play with new materials on the wall behind Marcelo. A very different vibe than Materials and Applications.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  Here's a lamp that P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S did for the recent Venice Architecture Biennale. Marcelo told us about the processes—vacuum molding, bending, etc.—that go into the product.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    Here's a lamp that P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S did for the recent Venice Architecture Biennale. Marcelo told us about the processes—vacuum molding, bending, etc.—that go into the product.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  We traipsed a good several blocks in the L.A. heat to get to our next destination: the home and office of John Southern and his firm Urban Operations.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    We traipsed a good several blocks in the L.A. heat to get to our next destination: the home and office of John Southern and his firm Urban Operations.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  The design-build firm specializes in residential work, but this model here is a cast for a concrete planter for a design for a park at nearby Sunset Junction. Their scheme wasn't ultimately chosen, but I liked the nearly topographic form that the cast leaves behind for the planter.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    The design-build firm specializes in residential work, but this model here is a cast for a concrete planter for a design for a park at nearby Sunset Junction. Their scheme wasn't ultimately chosen, but I liked the nearly topographic form that the cast leaves behind for the planter.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  As we headed back to our cars it only took half a block to come across one of Urban Operations' projects: this pocket park on Silver Lake Blvd. It had been just a triangle of asphalt for ages before Southern and his team transformed it into a lovely landscape.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    As we headed back to our cars it only took half a block to come across one of Urban Operations' projects: this pocket park on Silver Lake Blvd. It had been just a triangle of asphalt for ages before Southern and his team transformed it into a lovely landscape.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  You get a clue that metal fabrication is a particular skill of Oyler Wu Collaborative as soon as you show up. The layered, tectonic fence that surrounds their home and studio is just a taste of the kind of work that they do in art installations and on the facades of buildings.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    You get a clue that metal fabrication is a particular skill of Oyler Wu Collaborative as soon as you show up. The layered, tectonic fence that surrounds their home and studio is just a taste of the kind of work that they do in art installations and on the facades of buildings.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  Dwayne Oyler took me out back of his house to show me a graduation pavilion for the Southern California Institute of Architecture that should go under construction next week. It's an impressive model and organized around the principles that underpin knitting. Can't wait to see it finished.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    Dwayne Oyler took me out back of his house to show me a graduation pavilion for the Southern California Institute of Architecture that should go under construction next week. It's an impressive model and organized around the principles that underpin knitting. Can't wait to see it finished.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  Little surprise that model-making should also be one of their strong suits.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    Little surprise that model-making should also be one of their strong suits.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  The final stop on the tour was at the downtown offices of the architecture/art/design firm Ball Nogues. Gaston Nogues was there with his son to show us around the dynamic, messy space.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    The final stop on the tour was at the downtown offices of the architecture/art/design firm Ball Nogues. Gaston Nogues was there with his son to show us around the dynamic, messy space.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  This gives you an idea of the space that keeps the team hard at work. I loved all the mismatched chairs, tools scattered about, and surfeit of models and mockups. Rather the opposite of the comme il faut architecture offices you see in movies.  Photo by: Aaron Britt

    This gives you an idea of the space that keeps the team hard at work. I loved all the mismatched chairs, tools scattered about, and surfeit of models and mockups. Rather the opposite of the comme il faut architecture offices you see in movies.

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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  This model is a bit of Glob, a paper pulp product they mix up at Ball Nogues and then cast over balloons. The inspiration for this material, and its subsequent art installation, was paper drink carrying trays you might get to tote a quartet of Big Gulps. Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!   Photo by: Aaron Britt

    This model is a bit of Glob, a paper pulp product they mix up at Ball Nogues and then cast over balloons. The inspiration for this material, and its subsequent art installation, was paper drink carrying trays you might get to tote a quartet of Big Gulps. 

    Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

    Photo by: Aaron Britt

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