Platform Experiment

I recently bought a home in Venice Beach which I’m really excited about.   My furniture fit in the place, but it needed styling to bring it to the next level.  Recently I’ve been seeing a staging company work their magic at a few listings, so I called them over to see what they can do.  I was so pleased with the outcome, I wanted to feature them in our next piece to give a little background on them and share their unique organic way of design.  It’s truly an art form which I really appreciate.  Here’s their story…

In 2012 a customer walked into Platform’s retail store in Highland Park, fell in love with the shop’s style and asked the owner, Sarah, to stage a house she had recently remodeled. Sarah’s immediate response was, “Absolutely, let’s do it!” That same week I reached out to a high school friend looking for anyone who may let me assist them in staging work. My friend was still living in the Bay Area, where I grew up, and to my surprise she had a friend who needed help and was living in Los Angeles not far from me! I would later learn that Sarah and I both grew up in the same neighborhood but never met as we were a few years apart in age. It was a serendipitous encounter and perfect timing. 

Sarah brought me on to assist her with that first project. We were assembling Modernica chairs and drooling over the local artisan work such as handcrafted furniture, pottery and numerous other locally made items, Sarah had secured collaborations with from the relationships she had forged through the Platform store. With the excitement, naivety and joy of school girls, we were delighted to be diving head first into our first job with no idea how far this would go. 

The reaction we received from our first client confirmed we were creating something special and on to something others had not accomplished in LA. Soon after we decided to become business partners and we were determined to build a successful staging company while keeping the retail store going.

At the time the staging in LA was uninspired, corporate driven and very cookie cutter. We knew what we achieved in that first home was more personal than anything else on the market. In the same way a breakout musician’s first album is often their best work, we knew that we had not only created something special but were now going to be challenged to out do ourselves. This would not be a one hit wonder. 

The first step was to educate and change how people viewed home staging. What better place than in Los Angeles? It was slow at first. Convincing people that staging could be more than just showing a rooms function, but rather could capture a style and feeling that represents the LA vibe and the casual eclectic look of Californian living. Lucky for us this was a risk that quickly paid off. People realized what we were doing was different and what many clients were desperate for. Similar to many new business owners we didn’t know exactly what we were doing, yet we shared a passion for transforming spaces and weren’t afraid to make it up as we went along. Soon the business was booming and we needed a larger warehouse. Initially we’d used the back of the retail store. Once we secured a new warehouse the tough decision was made to close the store and focus solely on staging. Not because we wanted to close it, but we knew we couldn’t successfully do both. Five years later we are very happy to say our business is thriving and in this last year has lead rather seamlessly to interior design and home styling.  Sarah is now managing the interior design side of the business with the help of Becky Golino, who joined the team and has over 20 years of experience in interior design and also went to UC Davis with Sarah. 

When we got the call for the walk through on Lucile Drive in Silver Lake we assumed it was your typical staging walk through. What we discovered was our soon to be clients were remodeling the iconic Manola Court Apartments designed by Rudolph Schindler and they needed our assistance. The initial scope of the project was furnishing two units for short terms rentals. Our response, “Yes please!” This was our dream project! 

A quick background on the property. Between 1926 and 1940, Rudolph Schindler designed the Manola Court Apartments for his friend Herman Sachs, a muralist and decorator who designed interiors for many LA landmarks. They are an excellent example of Schindler’s abstract style, made up of a 16 unit complex, set within hillside gardens, with a dramatic two-story owner’s house that connects directly to the original artist’s studio. While Rudolph Schindler is best know for his dramatic single-family homes, he also completed several multifamily projects, including Manola Court. Schindler liked the idea of communal living and often designed open windows to encourage interaction among residents while still taking care to create privacy. Natural materials like exposed wood and stucco create a humble organic vibe that exemplifies California living. 

For the design, we were inspired by the colors of the Antelope Valley and wanted to stay with warm tones. Our client had already purchased an amazing mid century sofa set but it was dark red and didn’t feel quite right. We recovered the piece in a blush orange velvet fabric for the seat and an oatmeal woven fabric for the back. We liked the idea of doing a two tone sofa as it had a little bit of retro feel and the color blocking felt true to Schindler’s style. The finishing touches can be as important as the big ticket items. While our intent was to keep the styling on the more minimal side to stay true to Schindler we also wanted it to feel like a home. 

The Pampa rug in the office felt like a perfect marriage of organic materials and a graphic simple pattern that does a good job in grounding the space, and K&R ceramics to add that handcrafted touch and pop of color and geometry.  Since it is a short term rental we took great care in furnishing all details down to something as simple as the vegetable peeler. Everything has to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye no matter how mundane it may seem.

This has only happened after years of experience and with the help of those we’ve met along the way. We have an amazing textile and pillow source and numerous other creators we’ve built strong relationships with over the years (we like to call them The Platform Collective ;-)). This has allowed us to create what we call “The Platform Layer”. It’s essentially the combination of the local artisans and vendors we’ve partnered with combined with our personal influence to create a look and feel that wasn’t available when we came onto the scene. We pride ourselves on this and cultivating unique spaces that tell a story and carry a soul.

Schindler showed great thoughtfulness in his architecture and we wanted to make sure our design and the way the elements worked together showed that same care and intent. It was important we stay true to the space feeling light, relaxed and comfortable. Schindler often designed furniture for his homes and the wonderful architect working on this project went the extra mile and replicated his chair and table designs. They also went as far as to save Schindler’s original sketches on the wall from when he built the property which now are incased in plexiglass for the guest’s enjoyment in the living room. 

This property is a special one and soon will be open for short term rentals so that people who appreciate architecture can relax and stay in a piece of Los Angeles’s architectural history. With so much new construction popping up all over LA it’s really nice to see wonderful clients like ours preserving and restoring architectural landmarks like this to honor their beauty and significance in being a part of LA’s rich history and community. We are still a little dumbfounded and humbled at times that we are chosen to be involved in completing these amazing homes. Not because we aren’t up to the task, but because we are still evolving as a company, and have strived to keep an intimate vibe within the company. We both get ridiculously excited to work on these projects as if it was our first. 

Witten by Cordelia Reynolds, Co-owner Platform

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Photos by Eric Simpson

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