Workbook: Tesla Hits Century City

MBH created a new showroom and retail space for Tesla Motors inside the Westfield Century City. The location matches the sleek design of the cars themselves. Image courtesy MBH.Cutting-edge. Innovative. Sleek. Tesla Motors has been making a splash for a few years now, proving that environmentally friendly bona fides can go hand-in-hand with good looks and high performance. For its showroom/retail spaces the company needs designs to match.

Recently, the company called on MBH and architects Reena Nadkarni and Fabiola Lozoya to turn a location inside the Westfield Century City Mall into one of the brand’s latest outposts. The space is tiny (only about 900 square feet), which meant they had to make every inch count. In any circumstances, it would be tricky, but they had to include the showroom’s whole raison d’etre: a car that’s eight feet wide.

For the latest location, the team, “worked within the language they’ve set up for every store,” says Nadkarni. In practical terms, it meant they had to incorporate not only the car but the distinctive palette of red, white and gray—the brand’s colors—along with a glazed front, a dramatic ceiling treatment and merchandise hung on the walls.

“We had to demolish the previous tenant’s finishes and storefront and widen the glazing to bring in the car,” explains Lozoya, and they incorporated the same accordion-style glass doors used at other sites. Inside, the white ceiling element functions almost as a stage set, the curvilinear form running behind and above the car, highlighting it and seemingly framing it. Display space is confined to the walls and includes both merchandise and options for car finish choices.

“The car’s design is clean and simple,” says Nadkarni, “They’ve taken that same idea through the showroom so that the car remains as the focus.” 

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