Call in a temp
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 5/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
If you run a fledgling Los Angeles company in need of temporary premises, Nexspace may be for you. The incubator concept is hardly novel, but the facility's contemporary look certainly is. "We had to appeal to a broad spectrum, from legal and financial firms to young marketing types and production companies," explains Beckson Design Associates director of design Steven Heisler. "But we didn't take the boring middle ground."
Departure from that middle ground becomes immediately apparent upon entry to the 17,000-square-foot space, which occupies the 17th floor of a Westwood office tower chosen for its class A renovated status and panoramic view stretching to the Pacific Ocean. Corporate setting aside, Nexspace offers the loftlike cachet of the converted warehouses that the company's CEO, David Agger, initially considered for the venture. A concrete floor and a partially exposed ceiling speak an industrial language, as do fiberglass-reinforced plastic partitions supported by galvanized-steel studs.
The sweeping oval reception zone is filled with decades' worth of design-savvy seating. Charles and Ray Eames's Wire-Base side chairs share space with Verner Panton's eponymous model, Alvar Aalto stools, Karim Rashid's Blob chair and Ovolite sofa and ottoman, Ron Arad's T. Vac chair, an anonymous version in rope, and a rubber-coated foam chair named Asylum. Add an Eames plywood coffee table, an Aalto side table, and a tabletop made for a bowling alley—and you've got a landscape where nothing matches or lines up. "You're bound to find something you love," Heisler says. "And something you hate, too." That's the solution's appeal.
For the work space proper, the design team was inspired by the idea of emergence. "We grabbed onto the concept of nascence in general and a chrysalis in particular," says Heisler. Thus the translucent system partitioning the area into 39 communal offices, or "development rooms," accommodating two to 14 people.
Practical considerations of circulation and shared daylight explain why main corridors hug window walls. Development rooms are pulled back, so employees don't need to draw the blinds to ward off glare. Instead, daylight filters through the rooms' walls and sliding doors of fiberglass-reinforced plastic panels.
For expediency, Heisler furnished all the development rooms identically. MDF work surfaces are wall-mounted or set on aluminum legs with castors. Industrial galvanized-steel brackets anchor plywood shelves. Aeron chairs and custom raw-steel file cabinets round out the minimal picture. This uniformity embodies a key factor in the Nexspace model, according to Heisler: "When considering growth, it's easier to move people than walls."
Along the window wall outside the development rooms, BDA placed single lounge chairs and simple computer stands. These alternative work environments, aka "front porches," offer solitary zones.
BDA still had to provide the hallmarks of a traditional office, though. Along the east elevation, the firm articulated solid volumes with drywall and Masonite doors. A trio of conference rooms includes one equipped with full-scale audiovisual equipment—including a "smart wall" that doubles as a 50-inch monitor and an electronic dry-erase board—and a maple-topped table, suiting any business scenario.
If occupancy is a measure of success, Nexspace has attained boffo status, with 98 percent consistently leased. From a design stance, the space is a smash, too. "Visits show it working like we envisioned," Heisler says. "Doors are open, and companies share information. 'We do your Web material. You do our marketing.'"