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Urban Quiet: A Redone Loft in a Former Biscuit Company Bakery

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Urban Quiet: A Redone Loft in a Former Biscuit Company Bakery

June 11, 2021

There’s nothing hard-edged or cold about this LA loft, housed in what was once the West Coast bakery of the National Biscuit Company (now known as Nabisco).

The space belongs to designer Amanda Gunawan, who was born in Indonesia, raised in Singapore, and is a founding principal of OWIU Studio in LA. In other hands, the redone loft could easily have felt sterile, with its soaring proportions, brick walls, and exposed vents and pipes. But in updating it, Amanda and the OWIU team, including her fellow founding principal Joel Wong, turned instead towards a softer, quieter approach to balance the building’s industrial remnants. The inspiration? Japanese design, an uncluttered aesthetic, and a distinct purpose for every area.

“This project was a true embodiment of our design philosophies: thoughtful design and careful craftsmanship to create a space that will grow with its inhabitants,” says Amanda. The result is serene and visually calm, even in the midst of LA’s busy Arts District.

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Photography by Justin Chung, courtesy of OWIU.

The Nabisco factory was built in  and later converted to apartments, including this one, which measures loading=
Above: The Nabisco factory was built in 1925 and later converted to apartments, including this one, which measures 1,620 square feet. The team at OWIU (which stands for “The Only Way Is Up”) worked within the historic bones, extending the existing mezzanine by 130 square feet to create an exposed-wood overhang for a small dining area. At right is the kitchen, with a concrete-topped island that serves as extra dining space.
Noguchi Akari lights and a strict palette of white and pale wood add a sense of airiness.
Above: Noguchi Akari lights and a strict palette of white and pale wood add a sense of airiness.
The team&#8
Above: The team’s approach included creating smaller, “compartmentalized” zones with distinct purposes while maintaining a sense of openness in the large space.
The bright living area is situated in the double-height section of the loft for maximum sunlight.
Above: The bright living area is situated in the double-height section of the loft for maximum sunlight.
The textural, neutral palette.
Above: The textural, neutral palette.
Note the remnants of exposed brick at left, painted white.
Above: Note the remnants of exposed brick at left, painted white.
For access to the mezzanine, the architects designed a geometric wood stair rail that continues into a guardrail above.
Above: For access to the mezzanine, the architects designed a geometric wood stair rail that continues into a guardrail above.
The angular guardrail is made from  custom fabricated panels fitted together (plus a built-in bookshelf on the other side).
Above: The angular guardrail is made from 10 custom fabricated panels fitted together (plus a built-in bookshelf on the other side).
Just behind the guardrail is a compact study.
Above: Just behind the guardrail is a compact study.
Extending the mezzanine also allowed for more remove for the main bedroom, tucked behind a partition.
Above: Extending the mezzanine also allowed for more remove for the main bedroom, tucked behind a partition.
Downstairs, looking through the dining area and kitchen to the guest room beyond.
Above: Downstairs, looking through the dining area and kitchen to the guest room beyond.
The guest bedroom is inspired by Japanese design and serves multiple purposes. Says Amanda: &#8
Above: The guest bedroom is inspired by Japanese design and serves multiple purposes. Says Amanda: “I wanted a guest room but didn’t want it to simply be a guest room when I didn’t have any guests. I rarely drink alcohol and very much prefer having people over for conversations over tea,” so the idea of a tea/guest room was born. The built-in platform can be topped with a futon for overnight stays and serves as added storage and a place to read or visit otherwise.
A deconstructed bath features a concrete sink and textural walls.
Above: A deconstructed bath features a concrete sink and textural walls.

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