a neon artwork on the wall of an office
A commissioned neon piece adorns the headquarters suite on the mezzanine.

Headquarters Reboot: Standard Architecture x Nadel

It was a tall and double-edged order for a 1979 Culver City tilt-up, erstwhile comprising a production site, dispensary, and vacant zone. Purchasing the building during Covid, Nadel, the brand merchandising and experience company founded in 1953, coincidentally in the same area of Los Angeles, initially presented two briefs to Standard Architecture. “It was to be relevant for the times,” begins Silvia Kuhl, cofounder and principal with her husband Jeffrey Allsbrook. The other key aspect, he continues, “was creating healthy offices and outdoor spaces.” Both, obviously, with roots in the pandemic, waning at design’s onset. Then, and still now, conversations veered to workplace challenges and return-to-office policies. So, the program expanded. Nadel needed to entice its 100-count staff to return full time. It also sought to show off new digs to clientele as diverse as the Chicago Cubs, Mac Cosmetics, and Google.

A prodigious amount of work was required. Especially since the “sad and dreary site,” per project architect Tracy Bremer, was devoid of customary workplace amenities.  Outdoor and garden space? None. Daylight infiltration? Minimal. A cogent plan for the bi-level interior to tell Nadel’s story? Non-existent. Overarching moves, ergo, entailed creating inside-outdoor connections, reconfiguring glazing, and rebuilding the interior, including replacing the structurally unsound mezzanine with a safe counterpart.

Designing a Light-Filled, Modern Office for Nadel

Outside, Standard gave Nadel four new concrete patios, enclosing them with custom painted-steel screens, and set amid Mediterranean-esque gardens of drought-tolerant plants.

Inside, the proverbial “wow” starts at reception. With a newly glazed storefront, it boasts a substantial, upwards-reaching oak stairway, walls clad with plywood panels within a framework of engineered timber, and is one of three double-height spaces all imbued with new skylights.

So visitors could glimpse Nadel at work, Standard choreographed tight procession down a central corridor. Guests can peer into the glass-fronted conference room, stylish with a custom table fabricated by local Mash Studio, swivel chairs by Iskos-Berlin for Muuto, and suspended lighting by Peter Bristol for Juniper. Further on is the employee lounge, aka an ad hoc meeting area for creatives. The second double-height space also is a standout. Here is an elliptical form clad with 15-foot-high engineered wood slats, their upper portion a handrail for the mezzanine partially visible from below. For the lounge, Bremer designed oak benches to accompany Hlynur Atlason’s swivel chairs from Design Within Reach. The benches’ faux leather, by the way, is from newly inducted Hall of Famer Suzanne Tick’s Luum Textiles and part of Standard’s color-rebranding story for the project. An adjacent kitchen, with ash picnic tables and bar stools pulled up to a solid surface countertop, beckons before the passageway terminates in the merchandise room, its panoply of good changing according to customer.  

an outdoor area flanked by a palm tree at Nadel's headquarters
Bremer designed outdoor picnic tables, made by local Sebastian Trifino of cedar from felled trees.

What visitors don’t see are the mezzanine offices associated with corporate headquarters since this is command central for the entire operation. That means legal, finance, and human resources as well as dedicated workspace for website and experience departments. Out of view, too, is that driver of most businesses, sales. The team, “a happy, loud bunch,” according to Kuhl, occupies the third soaring space in a ground-floor hybrid setting combining an open workplace cum lounge and enclosed offices ringing all four sides of the perimeter.  With new standards in place, Nadel reports staff back full time and business as busy. As we say, mission accomplished.

Walk Through Nadel’s Headquarters in Culver City, Los Angeles

the reception area of Nadel, with a custom quartize desk
Reception features a custom quartzite desk, oak and painted steel stairway, and baffles for light play.
a day lit cocoon of wood slats makes up the employee lounge at this branding company
Within a daylit cocoon of engineered wood slats, the elliptical employees’ lounge mixes custom ash benches with Huynar Atlason’s swivel chairs and a custom chandelier from Camman Lighting.
an employee kitchen in Nadel's headquarters
Adjoining the lounge, the kitchen features ash tables and benches, the former by Mash Studio, the latter by Sebastian Trifino.
the sales team's floor at Nadel headquarters
Daylight infiltrates the sales team’s ground-floor, hybrid setting.
the mezzanine of an office
The mezzanine, its handrail the top of the employee-lounge slats, is visually linked with it.
a neon artwork on the wall of an office
A commissioned neon piece adorns the headquarters suite on the mezzanine.
the conference room at Nadel
The conference room has pull-down seats designed within its side-wall oak cabinetry.
a painted-steel screen affords semi-privacy to the front of Nadel's headquarters
A custom, painted-steel screen affords semi-privacy to new patios while providing street-front presence in Culver City.

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