The Furniture in This Store Fits Together Like a Giant Puzzle
Categories: Homes / Dwellings
Local architecture firm Bureau Spectacular designed the building’s brick facade to have a black and white mural (the same colors as the brand’s logo) that accentuates and abstracts its architecture. Bold, painted shadows extend from gutters, pipes, ledges, and windows; details are deformed; and unusual patterns mingle with other constructed forms. The building doesn’t just have graphics painted on it. The building and its graphics are one and the same.
Bureau Spectacular founder Jimenez Lai calls the composition a study in deconstruction, abstraction, and the ongoing merger between buildings and billboards.
“We didn’t do a lot to thefaçade, just exaggerated its existing conditions,” saysLai, who spent much of his younger years drawing comics, which he likes to call “the poor recapturing of reality.” He’s long daydreamed about layering them onto architecture, from putting thought bubbles onto frescoes in Italian churches to writing new text into ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.
The 2,000 square foot interior is also cartoony. White brick walls, exposed timber rafters, and hanging lights shaped like Tetris bricks surround what Lai calls super-furniture, “structures that are too small to be a building, but too large to simply be a piece of furniture.” Made of painted plywood, nine distinct pieces— from display shelves to fitting rooms to storage—can be wheeled together to become a 28-foot-long stair for events and discussions. Think of them as furniture transformers. Store owner Kevin Chen likens the stairs to a giant runway, making customers feel like stars.
“It’s got a wow factor,” says Chen. “I wanted a space to inspire people.”
Most of Lai’s work straddles this fascinating line between architecture, art, sculpture, and graphic design. His most recent installation, a gargantuan white steel and wood sculpture at Coachella last spring, comprised what he calls a “series of cartoonish bubbles,” and was inspired by “Cartoon Metropolis,” a fictional apartment building full of eccentric characters that he dreamed up.
Frankie was loosely inspired by BureauSpectacular’s “Briefcase House,” a wooden house within a house located inside a 1400-square-foot Chicago warehouse loft, and by “99 Chairs,” a sculpture commissioned by the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York that operates as both furniture and performance space.
Lai adds that his architecture’s sense of playfulness is perfect for his adoptive home, Los Angeles, because of what he considers the city’s pervading sense of lightness. “People in LA do not complain about their problems,” says Lai. “Not because they don’t have problems, but because they don’t want to bother people with them. You couldn’t pull this off in many places.”