Westside L.A. Studio Tour
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By Carren Jao / Published by Dwell
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In its inaugural Summer Studio Tour, Silver Lake architectural non-profit Materials & Applications certainly gave us a lot to chew on. As part of its fundraising efforts for future installations and also as a way of building a creative community, M&A set a weekend of tours that offer design professionals a tantalizing peek into the studios and processes of other creative firms around town. Last Saturday, M&A took visitors to the Eastside creative scene, but Sunday was the Westside’s turn to shine with six studio visits in the line-up. Here’s what I saw.

Everyone’s first stop was the Cliff Garten Studio in Venice. Hidden behind a hallway of bamboo was Garten’s sanctuary, which also sits right across from his home. The space had a wonderful quality of light that shone from a skylight in the middle of the garage and from either end of the open studio.

Within his workshop were intricately shaped sculptural works that were faintly biological in form. Garten says he’s been working with a lot of health institutions lately. “It’s one thing everybody can agree to spend on,” he says with a smile.

Garten has no one preferred material, he says. But he does have a preferred form. It is one that teeters between delicacy and durability. He has done many public works concentrated in North America. Because of the public nature of his work, Garten tends to make sure that his sculptures can really bear the wear and tear of the locations.

Layers and layers of packing material comprise a lamp that hangs from the middle of his erstwhile exhibition space. This is just one example of his intensely intricate work.

Predock Frane

The firm’s studio was behind rows and rows of homes that featured large succulents. The firm is known for its intensive research process and site specificity, which they apply to every project they handle—from chairs to urban design.

Recent sightings include an art exhibition at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions and a hallway of light at Santa Monica’s Glow.

Office of Mobile Design


After a vain attempt to locate Layer Studio, I decided to high tail it to Abbot Kinney in search of Jennifer Siegal’s office seeing how time was running out on me. The Office of Mobile Design sits across the road from the rows and rows of curio and clothes shop along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Hidden behind a rusted gate is a lush home-like structure that principal Jennifer Siegal calls her office.

I caught the tail end of her short presentation to a number of avid visitors. In it, she emphasized some of the lessons she learned while starting to build her business. One, never say no. Two, work with great people. Third, exude confidence.

Around us were numerous framed snippets of her media coverage from Esquire, Fast Company to Angeleno and I.D. alongside models of her homes. Siegal is certainly the go-to girl for pre-fab in the 21st century. Again, with only a few minutes to go on the clock, I make the sad decision to skip over the last stop in the Venice area Stephen Glassman Studio to head on over the farthest location.

LOHA

Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) sits on a not-as-yet gentrified part of La Cienega Boulevard, in front of a brightly colored Hoagies and Wings mural. O’Herlihy moved down from Culver City to this location after his original landlord attempted to triple the price of rent on him.

LOHA’s office sits on a deceptively deep lot that includes offices, workroom, artist’s studio and storage space. Today, O’Herlihy had umbrellas hanging from the ceilings and even outside. It was a mock-up for an on-going project. Pragmatically, O’Herlihy says the umbrellas outside provide shade as well.

O’Hearlihy is as much of an artist as he is an architect. His paintings are hung on the walls of the meeting room and throughout the space. He is also preparing for an upcoming exhibition at the SPF:a Gallery in Culver City.

Materials & Applications’ first try at a Studio Tour series was not without its kinks, but we'll chalk that up to the growing pains of the archi non-profit’s obvious success at cultivating a community interested in the intersection of public good, art and architecture. I’m looking forward to many more iterations of the tour in years to come. Maybe next time, I’ll get to stop by each and every one of them.

 

Carren Jao

@carrenjao

Carren Jao is an arts, architecture and design writer from Manila, Philippines now based in Los Angeles. She’s written for local and international publications like Bluprint, Contemporary Art Philippines, Angeleno and the Architect’s Newspaper. She relishes exploring new cities by walking its streets, taking public transportation and listening to its residents’ stories. Find out what else she’s up to at http://carrenjao.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter @ccjao.

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