[Photos and drawing courtesy The Los Angeles Design Group | click images for expanded/larger views]
The Mercantile Lofts consists of 35 "re-imagined" live/work loft residences in Downtown Los Angeles. The building dates to 1906 and is considered to be characteristic of the Chicago Beaux-Arts style, though a quick glance reveals it to more aligned with the Chicago School than the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in the same city. In other words, the building is more modern than classical, and this lobby design by The Los Angeles Design Group is a contemporary insertion fitting its progressive early-20th-century container.
Spurred by the physical constraints of the existing building's walls, the architects hypothesized for the 10,000-sf lobby, "is it possible to manufacture more space without changing the size of a room?"
They responded to this question in two main ways: wall graphics that "make flat walls appear deep and rich with material qualities" and two custom benches that integrate with and curl away from the wall graphics.
Parallel strips of MDF in varying undulating shapes comprise the two benches. Separated by spacers, these strips give the benches a porosity, like oversized radiators. Surface is created by edges.
The longer bench is located near the glass storefront, peeling away from the wall and directing ones movement towards the shorter bench and the elevator vestibule. The latter appears to be cut from the long bench, a detached segment of an alien creature in the lobby.
- Date of Completion: May, 2011
- Scope: Renovation of the public spaces for a six-story, 36-unit loft building, including furniture, lighting, wall coverings, and an elevator cab. All elements were custom-designed and fabricated for the Mercantile Lofts.
- Design Team: Andrew Holder (Principal), Claus Benjamin Freyinger (Principal), Noah Rubin (Project Manager)
- Client: ICO Development
- Fabricators / Installers: Machine Histories, GO! Creative, Astek Wallcoverings, Wallcoverings International
- Materials: Acrylic, Rangerboard, PVC Edge-Banding, Expandable Braided Sleeving