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    OWIU creates tranquil environment in renovated LA home

    California studio OWIU has revamped the interior of a 1950s home, adding elements that were inspired by traditional Japanese inns to create a peaceful environment.

    The 1,516-square-foot (141-square-metre) house, called Palmero, sits within the San Rafael Hills in LA’s Mount Washington neighbourhood.
    On the exterior, OWIU applied smooth, tan stuccoThe single-storey residence was bought as an investment property by actor Kane Lim and was sold last month following a renovation by local studio OWIU, which stands for The Only Way Is Up.
    Originally built in 1955, the dwelling looks toward the city skyline in the distance.
    OWIU designed the home, which overlooks the city skyline”We were drawn to the home’s seclusion from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles,” said Joel Wong, who leads OWIU with Amanda Gunawan.

    When the designers embarked on the mid-century renovation project, the house was in rough shape, with soiled carpets, degraded flooring and broken windows, among other issues.
    It is a mid-century renovation projectThe designers aimed to transform the neglected home into “a refuge of calm” by drawing upon the landscape and using neutral elements that would help quiet the mind.
    “If you go in strong with design, it energizes you quickly and then promptly dies out,” said Gunawan.
    Palmero takes cues from traditional Japanese inns”Much of our design leans toward the ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, enabling us to achieve a visceral effect,” she added.
    On the exterior, the designers applied smooth, tan stucco. To create a more open atmosphere within, they removed several non-load-bearing walls and false ceilings and reconfigured part of the layout to create a main bedroom suite.
    Earthy colours give the home an organic feelEarthy colours like terracotta and beige – and materials such as light-toned oak flooring – give the home an organic feel.
    In certain rooms, walls are clad in Venetian plaster. The designers said that this material “brings the delicate texture of the surrounding mountains into the home”.
    Original wooden beams and panels were sanded down, revealing the natural colour.
    The kitchen has quartzite countertopsIn the kitchen, one finds quartzite countertops and oak cabinets, along with an island made of glass blocks. The same material was used for a partition separating the living area from a bathroom, creating privacy without obstructing flow.
    The designers noted that the glass bricks – which are structurally strong while still enabling the passage of light – are often associated with “a period of garish flash from the ’80s”.
    Retro glass bricks feature in the interior design”OWIU sought to restore the material to its original glamour and refigure what might otherwise be considered obsolete,” the team said.
    To furnish the house, the designers worked with the vintage collector Jullie Nguyen of LA’s Ban Ban Studio.
    Vintage collector Jullie Nguyen assisted on the projectNotable pieces include a modular sofa by Vladimir Kagan and a 1980s Hexa coffee table by Bernard Vuarnesson, both of which date to the 1980s.
    Lighting fixtures include three lamps by Isamu Noguchi and several George Nelson pendants.

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    “These pieces brought a distinctly modern-yet-practical touch to the home while remaining in harmony with the existing architecture and new design elements,” the team said.
    Beyond the interior, the studio reimagined the backyard by creating a sculptural, poured-concrete terrace and a custom bench around a fire pit.
    A small wooden desk takes cues from a platform in a Zen gardenMoreover, the studio added a small wooden deck off the main bedroom that is meant to evoke a platform in a Zen garden. It also takes cues from tea ceremony rooms found in ryokans.
    “The step down leads, almost imperceptibly, into the garden, easing the home dweller into the natural space,” the designers said, noting that the yard features bonsai and maple trees.
    “The action is so unassuming that one might forget this step after the routine of living, but this is precisely the goal: a ritualized transition into calming spaces.”
    Japanese ryokans informed the design of Palmero houseOther projects by OWIU include a renovated apartment in an old factory in downtown LA, which features Japanese design elements that encourage “a mindful lifestyle”.
    The photography is by Justin Chung.
    Project credits:
    Designer and builder: OWIUDesign team: Joel Wong, Amanda Gunawan, Claudia Wainer, Nathan Lin, Bonnie Wong and Leo Yang

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    Kelly Wearstler renovates swimming pool for suite in Downtown LA Proper Hotel

    American designer Kelly Wearstler has refurbished a pool for a suite in the Downtown LA Proper Hotel, which opened earlier this year.

    As part of her studio’s extensive refurbishment of the building, Wearstler took the 35-foot (10.6-metre) pool from its previous use as a YWCA and turned it into a feature for the Pool Suite on the seventh floor.
    Kelly Wearstler remodelled the swimming room as part of a standalone suiteWith Omgivning as the project architect, the 2,777-square-foot (258-square-metre) room is one of 148 that she renovated for the launch of the hotel in February 2022. It is the only location in the Proper Hotel group chain thats feature an in-suite swimming pool.
    The room’s interior takes art deco influences from the club that the building was originally designed for in the 1920s.
    The Italian marble tile continues into the kitchen”During our initial research into the landmark building, we discovered this pool room originally shared a floor plate with guest rooms and so thought it would be a novel idea to transform it into an iconic suite with a private pool,” said Wearstler.

    Over the pool is an ivory ceramic mirror mural that covers the whole wall, created by artist Ben Medansky, who also worked with Wearstler on the Proper hotel in Santa Monica.
    The bedroom has a Kelly Wearstler-designed Matador bed”It was important to me to avoid a repeating pattern and instead treat each tile as its own canvas – no two are exactly alike,” said Medansky.
    “I drew inspiration from my Los Angeles-to-Arizona road trips over the years, and incorporated motifs of tire treads, traffic signs, and cacti, which were then minimized, abstracted, and put back together in a puzzle formation.”
    A mustard yellow shade covers the bedroom wallsIn the pool room, there is also an expressive wooden statue that sits in front of a window that naturally illuminated the space. Against the mosaic, Wearstler has placed a thin black metal bench.
    The floors surrounding the pool comprise multicoloured marble tiles – contributing to the 136 unique types of tile used across the hotel.

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    A small lounge area with pink chairs by Michael Felix is placed in the entryway that separates the pool from the rest of the suite.
    The pool deck leads into an open kitchen, with similarly tiled floors and pink plaster walls by Studio One Plaster.
    The bathroom tile design was completed in houseA marble backsplash, custom millwork made with light wood, and an island with Lostine barstools also feature in this space.
    Meanwhile, a small dining table is accompanied by a set of Kelly Wearstler Martel Chairs.
    Much of the furniture in the suite was sourced from vintage outlets in the US and EuropeA bedroom and lounge area have dark-stained wood floors and walls painted a rich yellow colour that surround windows overlooking Downtown LA.
    The bathroom was lined with bronze and black tile made in house by Wearstler’s team.
    The LA-based designer is also behind a third Proper hotel in California, located in San Francisco and featuring an as the “eclectic” interior filled with vintage and European furniture.
    The photography is by The Ingalls.
    Project credits:
    Design: Kelly WearstlerArchitect: OmgivningCompany: McGuire BuildersHospitality: Group Proper HospitalityDeveloper: The KOR Group

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    Forte Forte's first US store features golden changing rooms and balancing stones

    Light fixtures inspired by James Turrell artworks, balancing stones, and a circular golden changing room feature in the interiors of fashion brand Forte Forte’s Los Angeles boutique.

    The Italian label’s art director Robert Vattilana designed the interiors of the store, which is located at 8424 Melrose Place in Los Angeles – the first Forte Forte branch in the US.
    Vattilana called the design “an ineffable balance of the geometric and the organic”.
    The store features a sage green enamelled metal facadeTwo rectilinear shop windows are framed by a sage-green enamelled metal facade with the boutique’s glowing logo. The recessed front door is crafted from enamelled wood.
    Inside, a bright white ceiling is lit at the edges casting light on the textured walls, which create a neutral backdrop for Vattilana’s minimal but eclectic designs.

    A mixture of pastel and brighter tones define the space”The Los Angeles boutique is meant as a concise and vibrant project where light becomes matter, in an ineffable balance of the geometric and the organic,” the interior designer told Dezeen.
    Both pastel hues and brighter pops of colour are seen in the store’s furniture, which ranges from chunky terrazzo planters and gold shelving to a powdery pink chaise longue.
    The changing rooms were placed in a rounded gold boothThe amount of garments on display is minimal, with single dresses suspended delicately from various squiggly formations of gold wire.
    Changing rooms exist within a rounded, bright gold pod that is separated into cubicles. These feature a mixture of plush sea-green textiles and an array of mirrors.

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    Another standout element is two giant stones placed in front of ethereal, full-height muslin curtains, one of which balances on top of the other in a dramatic formation.
    “The stones are from the Palm Springs desert and are meant as a tribute to the work of [former Swiss art duo] Peter Fischli and David Weiss,” explained Vattilana.
    Two giant stones add drama to the boutiqueBack-lit, circular openings throw light on the boutique, which, according to the designer, also take cues from an existing artist.
    “Perimeters and ceilings create movement and an iridescent light emerges from the total depth of the shop, referring to the luminous geometries of [light artist] James Turrell,” he continued.
    The lighting was informed by the work of James TurrellVattilana described the brand’s Los Angeles store as a space that “echoes the volumes and lines of Californian modernism,” as it follows a group of uniquely designed Forte Forte stores in locations such as Milan and London.
    “The contrast with Italian materials and finishes enriches the balance of components with further nuances, sealing the uniqueness of the project.”
    “Each Forte Forte location follows a different rhythm,” he concluded.
    Giada Forte and her brother Paolo Forte founded the Italian fashion brand in 2002. Its other store designs include a Tuscan boutique with a hull-style ceiling and a Rome store “drowned” in green onyx.
    The images are courtesy of Forte Forte.

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