Jeff Kaplon, Kristin Korven, Israel Ceja
Klawiter and Associates
Sean O'Connor Lighting
Venice, CA USA
Taiyo Watanabe, Gustav Liliequist
Venice Lofts are the renovation and conversion of (2) condominium buildings into (12) live-work units. Located directly on the boardwalk of Venice Beach, this project was designed in collaboration with Cactus Store, with the first phase completed in 2021. Two units were fully renovated, outfitted in custom furnishings, and accompanied by redesigned exterior common spaces, hardscape, and landscape.
In contrast to similar programs, where trends within start-up culture favor bold and irreverent design gestures detached from their specific users or locations, our intent was to create a calm environment that reflected a nostalgic coastal experience. Without specific tenants, each unit was designed with a certain neutrality and a high-level of flexibility for future users that emphasized the breeze, sun, and tones of the site.
Due to code and structural limitations, the envelope of the existing units were preserved, and a 50/50 division of ‘live’ and ‘work’ spaces was required. With the projected tenants being small offices, this division served as a starting point to consider a more residential atmosphere of contemporary work spaces, especially in light of how the pandemic shifted our understanding of the formal office space.
Units are all organized similarly, with a lower ‘residential’ floor, upper ‘working’ loft, and roof deck. Lower floors consist of compact kitchens, restrooms, private meeting rooms, and several layers of adjustable spaces whose separation can be determined by rows of accordion doors with porthole windows. Double height spaces were left mostly open, with slender structural columns placed to lightly suggest potential divisions, and are furnished with modular systems for more casual working adjacent to the coastal views. Upper lofts are left completely open, with separate areas hinted at by changes in floor patterns.
A small pallet of common materials; oak, concrete, steel, and tile were used throughout. Attention was placed on the detail, finish, and interaction of each material in order to elevate their appearance. A multi-phased lime wash was applied to the oak to create a more beach weathered appearance. Steel has a slightly off-white and high-gloss powder coat finish to reflect light and views. Guardrails are designed with the finest mesh structurally allowable and installed without visible channels to appear like window screens overlooking the beach. Elements were detailed either very precisely, such as the routing at wood walls to conceal passage doors, or with exaggerated separations and overlaps to create a series of individual planes that direct views towards the exterior.
Furnishings were treated similarly, with purchased and custom items being modular, flexible, and with a certain ambiguity to serve both residential and commercial uses. Custom desks were designed with angular steel bases and lime washed ash tops, providing cord management when ganged together, or simply sculptural objects when alone. Landscape on the exteriors by Cactus Store referred to windswept coastal environments, and custom orange glazed tiles by artist Sofia Londono clad breezeways, reflecting views and demarcating unit entries.