October 25, 2013

It’s Their Baby: Gravillis Office by SmithGroupJJR

DeAnna and Kenny Gravillis were running their Los Angeles graphics firm, Gravillis, from a small studio attached to the house where they lived with their 4-year-old daughter when they met an architect named Mark McVay. Fast-forward 10 years. McVay had become a studio leader at SmithGroupJJR, and Gravillis had gone on to create movie posters for Inglourious Basterds and Only God Forgives and album covers for Mary J. Blige and Robin Thicke. It was time for a major office expansion.

And that’s precisely what Gravillis got: 6,200 square feet in a downtown low-rise, plus 1,500 square feet of roof deck. Thrilled that the 13-strong team could now really spread out, the Gravillises were nevertheless leery of losing the teamwork benefits of the original close-knit setting. So McVay made sure to provide plenty of openness and communal spirit. Reception, boasting a Ping-Pong table, flows toward the glass-fronted conference room, which shares a freestanding volume with the library. In the design studio, the benching system forms three  compact rows of six stations apiece. 

Graphics being what Gravillis does, they appear throughout. In a big way. A graffiti artist contributed a mural in a constructivist-futurist aesthetic, overlaid with the words Made for Designers. Another in-house work combines those motifs with a blow-up benday-dot portrait of the Gravillises’ daughter when she was an infant.

The final component of the brief, McVay says, “was about adding amenities.” Foremost among them is the roof deck, which extends in a triangle off one side of the building. For inspiration, he notes, he looked to old Hollywood: “People in entertainment used to work outdoors, from their beach bungalows.” 

Sliding doors at the widest end of the triangle provide direct access from the Gravillises’ corner suite, complete with private lounge. There are two private offices for executives, too. And the screening room, while relatively small, offers plush seating. Democratically, everyone gets a turn to attend the screenings, even the interns. 

Project Team:
E&K Vintage Wood: Lumber Supplier. Rocky Wade Design: Landscaping Consultant. Joel Steiner General Contractor: General Contractor.

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