In an industrial loft just off Rose Avenue in Venice Beach—where creative shops, innovative restaurants, juice bars and trendy yoga studios abound—is a co-working space called Number Five.
The space is shared by Paul Anderson, Mathew Gerson, Brett Woitunski and Domenica Peterson (a charity has taken space recently as well). Anderson and Woitunski work together on branding, design and consulting projects through Yardwork Co. and are currently developing a line of blankets called Campover. Gerson "chases ideas down and occasionally turns them into viable businesses" (his last venture was Sir Richard's Condoms.) Peterson sews couture clothing and runs a nonprofit called Global Action Through Fashion working to create a more equitable and sustainable world through fashion.
Venice has always been a community that embraces art, grit and anything that’s a bit rough around the edges. This, Anderson and Woitunski say, has always been the foundation of the local culture and the way people have created their spaces in the area. "In general," they say, "we wanted to create a space that would embrace all of this in an intentional and useful way."
As they moved into the space, Anderson and Woitunski started transforming it to appeal to a more refined, yet rustic aesthetic. "Most of the core structure; including the industrial stairs, lofted area and railings were here," they say, "but all of the walls were painted flat gray. It felt a little like a big, cavelike storage area, but the unique structure gave us a really good starting point. The previous tenants were steel fabricators, so there was an inherent industrial feel to the elements they had installed."
Transforming a space on the fly with virtually no budget is no easy feat, but proved to be an interesting creative challenge. "We wanted to get the space up and running quickly to be able to work and host meetings and events. The time and budgetary constraints made for solid creative urgency it actually helped us make decisions throughout the process. We also needed a way to make the space feel warmer, considering both the cold industrial elements and the lack of heat in the winter, so we used burlap fabric on a couple of the walls to create a sense of warmth and softness. The different textures really transformed the feeling of the space, but also help hide some of the more unsightly pipes and hardware.
Furniture fabricator Matthew Deters of Deterfabrik works in the space below and helped execute several of the projects and designed a custom leather and steel chair for the space. Gerson also brought in a few family heirloom pieces that fit really well into the eclectic style.
Much of the material used is reclaimed, from construction sites in the neighborhood (sometimes the result of dumpster diving excursions), flea markets and online resale sites. "The old wood from the surrounding structures has much more character than anything you can buy new. We’re thrifty so we love doing it, but it’s also nice to know that this stuff is getting used again."
The space is constantly evolving, and the intention is to make Number Five come alive and as a neighborhood hub for creative collaboration. "With our partner Mathew Gerson we’ve created a community meeting and workspace," Woitunski and Anderson say. "We’re surrounded by a lot of artists, furniture makers, and an underground restaurant, so it’s an unconventional space to work, but definitely inspiring. If anything else, it’s a great place to get critical feedback on things we are working on."
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