The Name Says it All
A creative domain is exactly what Creative Domain, a Los Angeles marketing firm, got from Pugh + Scarpa and Sarah Walker
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 6/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Across from Mann's Chinese Theatre and adjacent to the El Capitan movie house, this stretch of Hollywood Boulevard proclaims "show business" as clearly as the iconic hillside sign. And that was the main attraction for Creative Domain chairman and CEO Albert Litewka. What drew him to Pugh + Scarpa Architecture? The firm's flair for bold gestures.
"This was the first client to demand more than we're used to giving," principal Lawrence Scarpa says of Creative Domain, an integrated entertainment marketing firm. Work encompasses sound mixing, DVD menus, TV commercials, print ads, Web sites, and movie trailers, including those for Jerry Maguire and The Cat in the Hat—activities that had been dispersed among three Culver City locations until Pugh + Scarpa completed the new high-rise headquarters on Hollywood Boulevard. Now, all 125 employees of Creative Domain occupy a showstopping environment on the building's sixth and seventh floors. A lot of program is packed into 29,000 square feet. A lot of design, too.
Scarpa tested Litewka's daring at their first interview by proposing to install a multicolored selection of translucent plastic Dixie cups in backlit holes cut in the MDF wall of a corridor. "I like the idea of finding something extraordinary in the ordinary," the architect says. After initial resistance, Scarpa prevailed, and Creative Domain got a rainbow wall, mysteriously aglow. The interior also reflects Pugh + Scarpa's typical priorities: access to light and views, elevator lobbies integrated with reception zones, and design elements with artistic influences as disparate as Egon Schiele, Henry Moore, and Andy Goldsworthy.
On both levels, dense groupings of workstations and offices hug three elevations. The "money views" of the Hollywood Hills remain open to the north—enjoyed from the work areas and circulation corridors. Several of the latter feature interior "pillow walls," as Scarpa calls them: $100 rolls of translucent fiberglass sliced in half and stacked in plasterboard channels.
Visually engaging but cost-effective measures helped Pugh + Scarpa stay within a budget of $55 per square foot. As did "putting 80 percent of the money in 20 percent of the space," he adds. The tactic is immediately evident in public areas. For elevator lobbies on both floors, the firm produced lightweight cubes by pouring polypropylene-impregnated concrete over polystyrene foam blocks incised with inspirational words: vision, memory, focus, imagine. Functionally, the 18-inch-square cubes are seating. Symbolically, they transform mere passageways into artistic landscapes.
That's particularly true of the sixth-floor entry, in the center of which Scarpa hung ' a spiraling ribbon of solid and perforated steel. Overhead, a patinated-steel canopy appears to pierce the glass wall partially separating the elevator lobby from reception. "There's balance and tension," he comments.
The sculpture of Richard Serra clearly makes its presence felt not only in the sixth floor's suspended sculpture but also upstairs, where patinated steel forms the pair of canted arcs enclosing the elliptical conference room and clads the curved wall separating a recording studio from the elevator lobby. Farther in, past the glass entry wall, the upper portion of the steel surface extends above the reception desk and the adjacent kitchen, left open to enhance the café atmosphere.
Besides the row of stools at a 14-foot-long wheeled counter—which can pivot 200 degrees, thanks to a steel armature—the kitchen features a quartet of Verner Panton's namesake chairs, grouped around a small round table. However, no more than 10 feet separates the "kitchen" proper from reception's seating area, anchored by a custom nylon rug's mint squares and azure circles.
Selecting furnishings was the job of Sarah Walker Design Studio's namesake principal. "I took an ad hoc approach," she explains, "so each area has its own personality." And each draws on the vibrant colors of Mann's Chinese Theatre. Acid-green recycled polyester covers chairs just outside the seventh-floor's glass entry wall. In reception below, the mint-azure rug's sibling is tangerine-scarlet. Throw in a sofa upholstered in a gold vinyl, and you've clearly got someone adept at interpreting a Hollywood script.