While some city dwellers prefer to escape to the country, creative couple Marie Lu and Primo Gallanossa chose to burrow into downtown Los Angeles, purchasing a live/work loft in the cultural epicenter of the Arts District. The bestselling author and game designer approached the architecture firm CHA:COL for an urban sanctuary that would host their writing and game design needs between frequent trips. "What they really required was a creative den in the heart of the city, so they could write, draw, and retreat to it between projects, deadlines, and tours," says design principal Apurva Pande.
The resulting 1,450-square-foot space not only provides space to work, but also includes sleeping and kitchen areas. The fulcrum of the project is the "Writer’s Block," a multifaceted, fixed piece of millwork that functions as a desk on one side, a lounge on the other, and shelving in between. Taking cues from the couple’s backgrounds in writing, illustrating, and game design, design principals Pande and Chinmaya Misra used the game Monument Valley as a guiding concept for the retreat. In the game, players maneuver Princess Ida through Escher-like landscapes of surreal architecture. "Exactly the way Ida moves through different levels in the game," explains Misra, "we saw the clients navigating the loft and inhabiting it in unique ways."
"Exactly the way Ida moves through different levels in the game, we saw the clients navigating the loft and inhabiting it in unique ways." - Chinmaya Misra
In another nod to game design, the Barker Den—so named for the block on which it resides—plays with both two-dimensional and three-dimensional elements. Planks of white oak on the Writer’s Block transition into carpet tiles that appear to climb the opposite wall, thanks to a matching mural. "We had 50 different studies done about the geometry on the wall," says Pande. "Then we thought, ‘What if we just used paint swatches?’ That sort of completed the whole project—the three-dimensional became two-dimensional, and back again."
While the clients intended to treat the loft as an occasional getaway, they have stayed more and more often—a testament to the ingenuity and functionality of the space.
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