This, the third office space that eSquared has lighted for this particular client, presented outsized challenges – and long-awaited opportunities – for Principal Erin Edman and Senior Lighting Designer Landon Roberts. At 14 ft, the open, coffered ceilings at the new JustFab Los Angeles–area headquarters do not create a voluminous space, but they go on and on. Erdman’s award-winning lighting design succeeds in not adding a lot of complexity to the visual landscape while, here and there, the lighting gets to steal the show, defining spaces and providing effective wayfinding.
Erdman credits close collaboration, and long experience, with Moshiri Associates Director of Design Alexis Dennis for “tuned-in” lighting: where lighting supports the task, often underpins the architecture and occasionally provides an important visual statement. Erdman and Roberts won a Lumen Award of Merit from Los Angeles Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society for JustFab and went on to the international level to earn a 2016 Illumination Award of Excellence from the IES.
“One of the big challenges of this space was the size of the floor plates. They’re very, very deep. And although they have windows at the perimeter, there’s a large portion of the space that’s inboard, that doesn’t get a lot of natural light,” said Dennis about the old aerospace building. The team from eSquared Lighting was brought in to brighten the 97,000 sq ft buildout.
“We really try hard, as an office, to set up fixture families and set up a fixture vocabulary for the project, so it all feels very connected. It’s connected to the architecture, but it’s connected to itself,” explained Erdman. Large recessed fixtures with round acrylic diffusers are repeated elsewhere as pendants over dining tables. The pendants lower the perceived ceiling plane and create a cozier scale.
Linear pendants light the bulk of the open-office space, and in some open breakout spaces Erdman floated edge-lit square pendants to separate and bring down the ceiling plane. “Because the floor plates are so huge and so dense with workspaces, any time you’re stepping away from your desk you want to feel like you’re coming into a smaller space – whether you really have walls or not,” said Dennis. The intent is to encourage collaboration across the open-plan office. “The staff is constantly up and moving around the space. That’s why we have so many of these different types of little meeting spaces. They can pick up their laptop or iPad and be able to stop at the marketing group and be able to share some content and then go over to the video studio to talk to the production staff.”
This use of lighting to define “islands” within the vast acreage of the space is repeated with statement decorative pieces. It seems every lighting designer has a few light fixtures in their library they just can’t wait to use one day, when the right project comes along. The project’s statement pendants – used here in multiple sizes and colors – come from Axo Light. “I’ve waited a long time to use this pendant. I was very excited it made it onto the project in this scale,” said Erdman. In the lobby the shades are 70 inches in diameter; fabric sprayed with acrylic for durability and to make them easier to clean. The fixture family defines several areas: the lobby/retail/public event area, the bar/entertainment area, and they’re used in a surface-mount version in a prominent meeting room. “I like fixtures that you can extrapolate and make part of your fixture family. And they’re all connected; they all look the same but they’re different,” she said.
Yes, the pendants delineate areas for specific purposes, but they also unify to help make sense of a sprawling floorplan and provide wayfinding “Those are the two most public-facing areas, when they’re having guests and VIP clients in. I like that they’re tied together. Even though you see the color palette has shifted a little bit at the back of the space, where they have the parties and the bar and everything is little bit more vibrant, it still relates to the overall feeling when you first come into the space,” Dennis explained.
JustFab is an online retailer that has found success in affordable fashion. As they outgrew their previous space, they determined to consolidate operations and bring some functions in-house, such as events and video production. “But they didn’t want to lose the sense of entrepreneurship and this idea of being a start-up company,” said Dennis. The overall design emphasizes creativity with a rough-and-ready industrial flavor and simple finishes: a highly styled “look for less” that reflects the company philosophy. “Where Erin’s team really helped is how they lit [architectural] objects. We would come in, and we would have just simple blocks. They would come in and make those blocks glow. So you’re just seeing gypboard and paint here, but it looks like something very, very special.”
Some private offices and meeting rooms are blocks set at odd angles. “They also all have this pink uplight that’s part of them. And the whole thing behind the pink, it is their theme color, hot pink. So it was embraced by the team. We embraced it from a lighting standpoint, and we used it as one of layer to set these pieces apart from the rest of the architecture,” said Erdman.
Graffitied shipping containers have likewise landed askew in the space. These art pieces serve as the bar and a dining area. “I don’t think these would be as successful as they are if they didn’t have a glow to them,” Dennis said. The splashes of pink on the ceiling are beacons that guide you deeper into the space and provide orientation as to where the many departments lie. Large wall graphics perform a similar function, and the uniform, unobtrusive lighting makes them read from a distance.
“Of all the clients that we’ve ever had, these people use their space,” Erdman said. “They moved in and they’re there. They’re – I don’t know – they’re just living it, and it feels very different from a lot of our corporate clients…. They make it their own. And they needed a base to be able to do that.”
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