Every page we tear out, every image we pin, we fantasize about the way we want to live. And if your personal fantasy is not available in print or online, then Los Angeles architect and designer Alexandra Loew can probably help you out.
With a view that “fantasy is a critical dimension of contemporary life and culture,” Loew (she’s the founder of design firm Alexandra Loew (formerly From the Desk of Lola) strives in her designs to be a filter for her clients’ fantasies. And so when a collector of George Hurrell portraits (black and white glamour shots of Hollywood starlets in studio settings) requested a private backdrop for her own silver screen moment, it was a perfect match. “The images were wonderfully instructive in that the environments are highly contrived and the lighting is carefully controlled,” Loew says. “And because they are black and white, the images are studies in contrast rather than color–matte and gloss, sheen and texture, geometry and drape. That is to say, we used no color, other than ivory and black, and a lot of metals: gold and silver leaf and soldier’s course mirror tiles, liquid mesh, three different kinds of lacquer, brass, glass, and materials like fur, silk crepe, and mohair.”
Unless otherwise noted, photography by Jessica Antola.
Above: Custom-fitted cabinets flank the dressing table and are organized with belts and lingerie in the shallow top drawers and bulky sweaters in the deep drawers at the bottom. The drawer at the table contains costume jewelry and is partitioned and flocked in black. “Secretly, I was also looking at Eileen Grey,” Loew says. “She used lacquer to great effect, and because she designed furniture, each element holds its own.” Photograph by Justin Bernhaut.
Above: Shoes, boots and clothes sit in the area behind the motorized gold mesh curtains. Low voltage xenon globe lamps are mounted to a continuous beam channel at the top, creating a shimmering effect through the gold mesh curtain. Photograph by Justin Bernhaut.
Above: The illusory effect of lighting was critical in this project and Loew worked with lighting designer Dan Weinreber a friend from architecture school and a partner at the lighting design firm Kaplan Gehring McCarroll, who was coincidentally working on the refurbishment of Morris Lapidus’s Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami at the same time. “I am fortunate that Dan still takes my calls,” Loew says. “He gets the concept quickly and specifies the perfect lighting solutions.”
Above L: Liquid Mesh, a material originally used for handbags and halter dresses, by Whiting and Davis was used for the curtains. The drapes are motorized allowing the client to peruse her wardrobe at the flick of a switch. Above R: The wall covering is a German made glitter sourced at Stark and appropriately called “Cocktail”.
Above: The gold curtain provides a shimmering backdrop when seated at the mirror, which when not illuminated looks like a seamless wall. Weinreber had the silver coating at the back sandblasted away in vertical strips where linear flourescents were mounted to provide a soft, bright and dimmable glow, which magically appears from the surface of the mirror. “The combination of these side light flourescents and the adjacent incandescent sconces provides excellent color rendition for skin tones,” Loew says. “Everything about the room was intended to make my client look and feel glamorous, which she did – in spades!”
Above: “We sourced, edited and detailed a body of materials that would make you feel, as literally as possible, as if you were inhabiting a scene of the silver screen,” Loew says. Photograph by Justin Bernhaut.
Above L: “All of the built elements in the master bedroom were designed to read like architectural fragments – like a set piece from a movie,” Loew says. Above R: “The circle-in-the-square was a prevailing motif, because it added dimension to the existing shell, which was boxy with a low ceiling,” Loew says. “And it gave a seventies edge to an otherwise Deco environment; these sorts of anachronisms keeps the design from veering into ‘theme-room’ territory.”
Above: The recessed light fixture glows softly without glare.
Above: The hallway to the bedroom suite is lined with the client’s collection of George Hurell prints. “We pored over her collection together,” Loew says. “She sent me packing with a copy of his monograph, called me darling (‘dahling’) and I loved every minute of it.”
Looking for ways to introduce gold into your home decor? See 176 images of Gold in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.