Apr 21, 2020

How a former pen factory transformed into a multipurpose media hub

By Katie Nale

Gen Z—who are they and what do they want? Curiosity about those born between the mid-90s and early 2000s is starting to mount as companies try to figure out who they’re marketing to and where the ever-changing media landscape is heading next. Awesomeness TV, a media and entertainment company in Santa Monica, CA, seems to know the answer.

The company, which labels itself as a leading brand for adolescents, originated on YouTube in 2012 and has grown into a multi-platform operation, creating everything from original television shows to movies to web series. As such, its headquarters, which supports the filming and screening of content along with more routine day-to-day office work, needed a design capable of functioning on various levels. “The client was looking for a space that could support the production work handled on-site and embody the fun and dynamic style of the studio,” says lead project designer Maura Reinhart of HLB (Los Angeles), who worked on the project between February 2016 and December 2017, in collaboration with architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

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Located in a former Paper Mate pen factory, Awesomeness TV’s 87,000-sq ft, two-level suite uses downlights and decorative fixtures to create an industrial-chic studio with a playful personality. Del Ray LED industrial low-bay luminaires with uplighting hang from the exposed factory ceiling, illuminating the open area along with the building’s rectangular skylights. “The fixture had the industrial feel we were seeking,” recalls Reinhart. In private offices and huddle spaces, 24-in. and 30-in. Spheres fixtures (SPI) play off of other circular shapes around the office. Cylinders are used in the corridors while the office’s lower level uses more traditional direct/indirect pendants for the open work areas with a ceiling above them.

The simple form of the luminaires and cooler color temperature of the light add to the clean and minimal vibe of the office, while also emphasizing the bright pops of color found in the furniture, rugs and walls. “We generally stuck with 3500K, with the amount of daylight we had in the space, we felt that it blended better,” says Reinhart.

Luminaires sporting a darker metallic design (Viso Fort Knox) were used to bring personality to the kitchenette, as well as a few smaller huddle spaces, where the fixtures’ edgier exterior complements the feel created by the lower light levels. “They wanted to have a few spaces that were more conducive to a quieter more concentrated huddle. The idea was that you could have a variety of different moods and settings for huddling to suit your needs,” says Reinhart.

A long central corridor runs through the building. “This space needed to be really engaging and lively, but also capable of performing many functions,” says Reinhart. Color-changing lights allow the corridor to work for both regular workday activities, as well as special events. It also needed to work as a filming location. “The fixtures directly in front of the recording space have a switch inside of the recording studio. They turn red whenever the studio is in use, acting as a kind of ‘on air’ light for the space. You can pretty much see those lights from anywhere in the building, so it’s kind of easy to tell when it’s being used for recording and nobody accidentally wanders in while they’re working in there.”

Meanwhile, three large custom concentric circular fixtures illuminate a multipurpose screening room. “This is another space where the theme of adaptability and getting as much out of the space as you possibly can is important,” says Reinhart. Serving as a lecture space, classroom and large group work area, the screening room had to be well-lit enough to support group classroom types of work. It also had to be able to dim down to levels appropriate for a screening event. “We wanted to break away from the traditional kind of screening room lighting where the lighting for the most part wants to disappear. This is another chance we saw where we could really exemplify the youthfulness of the company, so we decided to bring in some exciting geometric [luminaire] shapes to make that a unique experience.”

Youth shall be served—by the company, its headquarters and its lighting design.


Katie Nale

Katie Nale