Workbook: The Emerson

When Related California set out to develop The Emerson, a new luxury apartment building in the heart of downtown Los Angeles’ cultural core, it chose Marmol Radziner to design the interiors. Known for beautiful modern design and custom homes, Marmol Radziner also excels in interiors. Director and key principal Ron Radziner fashioned an artisanal approach to the 20-story building and a simplified elegance that resonates throughout the 271 residences and common areas, including the lobby and Penthouse Lounge.

This artisan approach, with custom-designed pieces, enhances The Emerson’s role as an architectural centerpiece. The Emerson is located across from the new Broad Museum, and is steps away from The Museum of Contemporary Art, the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Music Center of Los Angeles County.

What were your influences in terms of artistry, global trends, and materials? Do you see this building as part of trend in interior design?

The interior architecture is clean and modern using a variety of natural materials. Resident interiors boast open, kitchens with Caesarstone counters and walnut cabinetry, the baths are appointed with a rich marble tub surround and vanity top, while the living spaces include wood plank flooring. We were designing for the sophisticated, modern downtown professional. It has proved to be appropriate. In just the past few years, downtown Los Angeles seen an explosion of growth and refinement.

We specifically wanted to make the interiors interesting to someone who would often visit MOCA, the Broad and Disney Hall. The custom pieces and the art program appeal to a community with an interest in art and architecture. Related shared our commitment to great design and a focus on a hand -curated art program.

Custom-made pieces created for The Emerson include the bronze, Emerson2sculptural room divider in the lobby, and the billiards table in the penthouse lounge. What is the process by which you commissioned these pieces?

We approach an assignment with a clear idea of what we want and if we can’t find it, we have a custom piece made, which is what happened here. The bronze screen reflects the facade of the building (which was designed by acclaimed architecture firm Arquitectonica). It gently divides the main lobby from the rest of the ground-floor circulation and adds a further touch of luxury to that space. The billiards table was designed precisely to fit in the penthouse space. It is a more modern design than a traditional billiards table but with some real mass to it.

The penthouse terrace offers some of the most impressive views for living spaces of anywhere in Los Angeles. Did you design that space to distinguish from the views or to blend in with them?

The challenge in a community space like this is finding the appropriate balance between creating a place where residents can interact with each other; while at the same time enjoy the view from 20-stories above Bunker Hill. The design of the penthouse lounge and terrace serves many functions. With a lounge, dining area, community table, and BBQ, it gives residents as many opportunities to interact with the space as possible. But there is no question that the views are paramount. This space takes advantage of the inspiring city vistas, day and night.

Emerson3How did you identify the wide range of lighting fixtures throughout the building?

Our work constantly keeps us searching for beautiful fixtures. For The Emerson we sought a combination of new and vintage fixtures that would meet the practical lighting needs of the space while adding something unique and appropriate. We apply a similar approach to the wall coverings, which allow us to subtly define spaces from one part of the building to the next. We like to delineate masses of walls. Wall coverings add durability, variety, and interest. We can also use them to give spaces a little bit of shine if required.

Where are luxury residential design trends headed next?

Luxury design is moving toward the use of more natural materials such as end-grain wood, steel, and aged bronze. Historic materials are coming back in a refined, beautiful way that is durable yet looks luxurious.


Photos by Christian Horan Photography

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