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Rottet Studio Makes Design the Star at the Los Angeles Office of Paradigm

PROJECT NAME Paradigm
LOCATION Los Angeles
FIRM Rottet Studio
SQ. FT. 82,000 SQF

“Light and movement.” That’s what Sam Gores said he wanted to see upon entering his office in Los Angeles. And when the chairman and CEO of Paradigm Talent Agencyasks for something, that is precisely what he gets—particularly when the project is designed by Rottet Studio. Interior Design Hall of Fame member Lauren Rottet’s firm is itself a fixture in the entertainment business, with credits including offices for United Talent Agency and Viacom.

A custom reception desk in folded and welded mirror-polished stainless-steel stands on engineered European white-oak floor planks at Rottet Studio’s Los Angeles office for Paradigm Talent Agency. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

A powerhouse with eight locations across the U.S. as well as in Toronto and London, Paradigm “understood that architecture does matter,” Rottet Studio founding principal Richard Riveire begins. “They really get that an agency can leapfrog over competitors by bringing everyone under one roof, giving them a great place to work, and making sure that conversations and impromptu meetings happen.” So, employees from the music, literary, film, and TV divisions, previously at three separate L.A. sites, are now together in Beverly Hills.

Milo Baughman–inspired chairs face a leather-covered sofa in the green room. Photography by Eric Laignel.

Notable for a landmark fountain, a monumental pyramid, standing in the front courtyard, the 1980s building had a storied past as the former home of the agency ICM Partners but had been vacant for seven years. Though Riveire and principal Harout Dedeyan term their intervention there “tenant improvement,” that’s just Rottet Studio’s typically understated manner. We call the project a complete gut job, with only the limestone and granite wall cladding and the skylight retained. The 82,000-square-foot U-shape interior was entirely rebuilt. Plus, the courtyard, which previously “leaked like a sieve,” Riveire says, was repaved and replanted around the pyramid.

Rising from reception’s sitting area, stairs offer additional seating on vinyl-covered cushions. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

The greatest challenge was “to figure out new ways of working inside a 30-year-old building,” Riveire continues. “By jamming things together, we could create an exciting design that changes all the time.” The device that “moved the throttle setting toward more common spaces,” he explains, was the insertion of a central stair atrium—obviously the big move. “We had to whack out 1,000 square feet on two of the floors.” 

A Greg Bogin artwork was commissioned for a corridor. Photography by Eric Laignel.

No mere grand staircase, this. It’s not only the people connector between the three levels but also a multitasker. The lower, wider flight can serve as a vertical space for solo work, thanks to the  blocky cushions scattered across the steps, or as a venue for all-hands company meetings, when combined with the reception area and an adjacent conference room.

On three, the reception area features an armless chair by Karim Rashid. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

Flights aren’t stacked but slightly rotated inside circular openings that differ in size—difficult to engineer, to say the least. “LED halos accentuate the perimeters,” Dedeyan says. The ensemble presents quite a climb, especially for those with vertigo. A mirrored ceiling produces a dizzying kaleidoscope effect, making the height appear as six stories, not three.

The courtyard’s new granite, concrete, and turf surfaces surround an existing Eric Orr pyramid fountain. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

Sharing dramatic creds is the reception desk. Riveire, who’s highly knowledgeable about hospitality projects, too, compares it to “the front desk of a hotel.” He goes on to liken the long, purposely low form in mirror-polished stainless steel to “a squished pickle.” We see inspirations of sculptures by Anish Kapoor. Regardless, it’s an Instagram moment.

Erik Parker’s acrylic collage on canvas punctuates a corridor. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

Speaking of art, there’s no shortage of spectacular pieces, some of them commissioned. Initiated by Gores, the program was assembled by a DJ-curator, DB Burkeman, in collaboration with a more conventional art consultant. Standouts include the atrium’s colorful text-based screen prints, kinetic black-and-white photographs of figures in the elevator lobbies, and a corridor’s collage inspired by comic books, hip-hop, and graffiti.

Nylon carpet in a private office. Photography by Eric Laignel.

Surprisingly, knowing Rottet Studio as we do, furnishings are generally not custom. Widely available residential pieces, they could be found in many a stylish living room. Flooring, consistent with that vibe, is white-oak planks in common spaces. “The wood is a contrast to all that stone on the walls,” Riveire explains.

The listening room is acoustically isolated. Photography by Eric Laignel.

Carpeted work spaces follow the customary setup. Glass-fronted private offices for agents face assistants at a benching system. Most offices have sit-stand desks. (Many in the stand position during our visit.) Sprinkled among the offices are casual lounges, up for grabs as needed. What’s unusual is the lack of hierarchy among divisions. No single one ranks above any other.

The stair atrium’s mirror-finished stretched mem­brane ceiling reflects a series of 21 screen prints by Eve Fowler. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

Conference and meeting rooms and the “signing rooms” encircle the stair atrium. Really, though, everything is an ad hoc meeting space, including  elevator lobbies fitted out with chic and super-comfy seating. There are also pantries and coffee bars aplenty, the best, no doubt, being the ground level’s coffee lounge opening onto the courtyard. Pull up a stool to the marble counter, or plop down on a sofa or armchairs anchored by a houndstooth rug that blends with the same pattern rendered in floor tile.

Reception’s custom wool-silk rug. Photography by Eric Laignel.

The list of amenities goes on: a screening room with adjacent green room, another room filled with candy. According to Paradigm director of special services and guest relations Rozzana Ramos, clients come just to hang out. Linger long enough, and you might spot Antonio Banderas or Henry Golding reading a script or Chris Martin, Ed Sheeren, or Sia headed to the listening room where, Riveire says, they can “crank it up to 11.” 

Keep scrolling to view more images of the project >

LED halos ringing the stair atrium. Photography by Eric Laignel.
A corridor’s con­struction of album covers with wood and resin by David Ellis. Photography by Eric Laignel.
The lounge on two. Photography by Eric Laignel.
Patricia Urquiola chairs appear in a private office. Photography by Eric Laignel.
Damien Hirst’s deck for Supreme is mounted with other skateboards in an office area. Photography by Eric Laignel.
In the coffee lounge, a focal wall includes artwork by Raymond Pettibon and Ed Ruscha. Photography by Eric Laignel.
Laser-printed photographs by Kenton Parker energize an elevator lobby. Photography by Eric Laignel.
The lacquered logo wall on a granite base. Photography by Eric Laignel.

Project Team: Chris Jones; Theresa Lee; Pegah Koulaeian, Laurence Cartledge: Rottet Studio. Esquared Lighting: Lighting Consultant. Newson Brown Acoustics: Acoustical Consultant. Cybola Systems Corporation: Audio-Visual Consultant. Lendrum Fine Art: Art Consultant. Thornton Tomasetti: Structural Engineer. Arc Engineering: MEP. AMA Project Management: Project Manager. Clune Con­struc­tion Company: General Contractor.

Product Sources: From Front: AM Cabinets: Custom Desk (Recep­tion). Palecek: Coffee Table (Green Room). RH: Chairs, Sofa (Green Room), Sofa (Listening Room). CB2: Console (Green Room), Side Tables (Hall), Sofa, Coffee Table (Lounge), Table (Office), Dining Chairs (Coffee Lounge). Tai Ping Carpets: Custom Rug (Sitting Area). Davis Furniture: Sofas. Holly Hunt: Chairs. West Elm: Side Tables (Lounge, Coffee Lounge, Reception Area). Martin Brattrud: Cushions (Stairway). Blu Dot: Benches (Hall), Stools (Atrium), Credenza (Listening Room), Sofa (Reception Area). Summer Classics: Chairs (Court­Yard). Andreu World: Chairs (Office). Alur: Storefront Sys­tem. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams: Coffee Table (Coffee Lounge). Gus Modern: Sofa. Shaw Hospitality: Rug. Andreu World: Barstools. Thomas O’Brien: Pendant Fixture. Zuo Modern: Chairs (Coffee Lounge), Chairs, Table (Listening Room). Tandus: Rug (Reception Area). Nienkamper: Chair. H.D. Buttercup: Armchairs. West Elm: White Side Table. Bernhardt Design: Bench. Throughout: Monarch Plank: Floor Planks. Bentley: Carpet. Barrisol: Stretched Ceiling Membrane. Benjamin Moore & Co.; Dunn-Edwards Corporation: Paint.

> See more from the May 2019 issue of Interior Design

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Women Shaping the Future of Design: Meet Malene Barnett, Founder of the Black Artists and Designers Guild

Meet Malene Barnett: For nine years the Brooklyn-based artist-designer has helmed Malene B, an art and design studio from which she produces bespoke textiles and ceramics. Her commercial clients include Marriott, Viacom, Saks, and WeWork, to name just a handful. But since November of 2018, Barnett has added another venture to her entrepreneurial pursuits. She’s the founder of the Black Artists and Designers Guild(BADG): a “curated collective of Black artists and designers throughout the African diaspora,” as Barnett succinctly describes the group.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Enter the 2019 HiP Awards by May 17th

She founded the group as an actionable response to a particularly jarring experience: a design conference in the fall featured a panel on what was new in design and next for the state of the art—but the panel’s organizers failed to include a single Black artist or designer.

Since November, Barnett has amassed over 131 Black artists and designers across Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and North America who work in disciplines including architecture, ceramics, interior design, fine art, furniture design, and textile design. The Guild includes a searchable directory for clients or teams to find design talent, as well as talks and panels that connect the design community with BADG members and showcase elements of design that have a long tradition in the African diaspora. With the opening of the Female Design Council’s Deeper Than Text, an exhibition showcasing Barnett’s work alongside other masters of contemporary art and design at the 1stdibs gallery in Chelsea, Interior Design sat down with Barnett to discuss her work with Malene B and the Black Artists and Designers Guild.

Interior Design: Can you share with me your background leading up to the founding of the BADG?

Malene Barnett: For the past 10 years I’ve been the creative force behind Malene B, an art and design studio specializing in fine art, clay objects, and bespoke carpets for residential, commercial, and hospitality environments.

ID: You’ve spoken at length about the design conference that incited you to bring the BADG together; what differentiated that experience from others in which you had encountered exclusionary and ignorant behavior in this industry?

MB: I went through a series of statements in my head. Its 2018. I graduated college more than 20 years ago. I personally know many talented Black artists and designers locally and abroad. I live in New York City, one of the most diverse cities in the country and I still have to search for someone who looks like me on a panel? This awareness had occurred previously. Yet, this time, when I saw that once again none of the panels included Black artists or designers, I’d reached my limit and could no longer accept those terms from these events. I decided enough is enough! The industry constantly repeats the same blatant message that Black artists and designers do not matter and neither does their point of view. So, instead of continuing to complain to my colleagues, I spoke out about it publicly on social media.

Malene Barnett with her acrylic on canvas, “Behind Every Black Woman.” Photography (here and above) courtesy of Alaric Campbell Photography.

ID: What do you think are the biggest obstacles to recognition and inclusion for designers and creative professionals who are people of color? 

MB: It’s clear that we exist and are doing amazing work in every creative field, yet we’re consistently lacking the representation we deserve. The problem is systemic and the biggest obstacle is waiting for the gatekeepers—white designers, manufacturers, developers—to acknowledge they hold access and opportunity privilege (unearned access and benefit to opportunities—this is not about working hard; most of us do) they have been benefiting from in an industry that continues to promote them to success.

In order to find a solution to the problem, the industry will need to dismantle the existing system that grants such narrow privilege to whiteness and create a new standard that includes people of color as well as any other group that has been overlooked or under-presented. Inclusion can’t be an afterthought; it’s what’s necessary in order to create an authentic image of what design looks like.

I believe that inclusion is what’s necessary in order to grow as an industry.

“Kerala” carpet by Malene B in a room by Tara Seawright Interior Design. Photography courtesy of Malene B.

 

ID: How does this systemic lack of diverse perspectives disadvantage the design community and the state of the art world at large?

MB: This lack creates a falsehood of what art and design looks and feels like. Because of this, the industry fails to correctly identify, include the experiences, and credit the contributions of African, Asian, and Indigenous cultures to the landscape of art and design. This creates an industry that is seemingly creating from a single perspective (and sometimes using the foundations of design from African, Asian, and Indigenous cultures without credit), instead of considering the experiences of many.

“Dominica” handmade rug from the Malene B Atelier collection. Photography courtesy of Malene B.

ID: You and the Guild have gotten an abundance of positive press recently—congratulations! Have you seen any actionable industry changes since founding the BADG?

MB: Thank you! Yes we have! We’ve experienced many changes since the launch; various media outlets reached out to us to meet and stress the importance of inclusion in their publications. We’ve even noticed a shift in the storytelling being more inclusive. There’s been a shift in the consciousness of the industry.

Our current show, Beyond the Mask, is an exhibition to dispel the myths and stereotypes of Blackness in art and design on view at Plant Seven in High Point, NC and was organized by Dada Goldberg. In addition, many media outlets have reached out to us for various features. Our most prominent is a two-page spread in the April issue of Elle Decor. We’ve had talks around subjects related to Black culture, art, and the business of design at Neuehouse, The Affordable Art Fair, and New York School of Design. During NYCxDESIGN our talk series will continue at Next Level Design and BKLYN Design. And most recently we got invited to exhibit at the Texas Contemporary Art Fair in Houston, Texas in October. I feel this is only the beginning; the BAD Guild will be a constant reminder to the industry to be inclusive until it’s the norm.

“Zulu” stoneware jar by Malene B. Photography courtesy of Malene B.

ID: What’s next for you in terms of continuing the trajectory of the BADG and your own work as a creator? How do you balance the work of strategizing and running the two?

MB: We are working on cultivating our own events centered around a celebration of Black culture through art and design. Not only do we want the design industry to become educated about our culture and aware of our creativity but we also want to create experiences for the community at large. Our design style and point of view is different and it matters, and to support this we need more venues that embrace our Blackness just as must as we do.

The work we are doing is impacting the community and we want to continue to keep the industry’s consciousness on the power of inclusivity. It’s been a challenge handling both gigs, but I realize the work I’m doing is bigger than me. I’m constantly reminded of this when I meet design students as well as when I reflect on the time when I was a design student at FIT. I was the only Black student in the class, and the only one researching and celebrating Black culture. I hope the work the BAD Guild is cultivating not only empowers the next generation but opens the minds of everyone to create space to include more than one point of view. There is plenty of room for everyone. Good design can take care of this.

“Moko I & II ” stoneware with gold luster by Malene B. Photography courtesy of Malene B.

Read more: 22 Inspiring Projects by Top Female Designers

Continue reading Women Shaping the Future of Design: Meet Malene Barnett, Founder of the Black Artists and Designers Guild

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