Spanning 3600 square feet over 2 floors, Dan Brunn of Dan Brunn Architects created a fluid residential space with an open floor plan to blur the lines between spaces.
The client for this project is James Jean, a Los Angeles‐based visual artist known for both commercial and fine art. He has designed book covers for DC Comics, as well as graphics for Prada, ESPN, and Atlantic Records. Since retiring from commercial illustration in 2008, he has held exhibitions of his fine art in New York, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.
With the Hide Out project, the client wanted an interior and exterior renovation of the home located in the "Little Osaka" neighbourhood in Los Angeles. The original homeowners—noted Los Angeles contemporary art collectors Edwin Janss Jr. and his wife Ann—commissioned architect Frank Gehry, FAIA, to design the original home in the 1970s. Many of Gehry's signature details were not realized in the original design, and Dan Brunn decided to include elements that would be a nod to the original vision.
The result is a minimalistic space with clean, linear lines and fluid shapes that are a nod to that incorporates design elements to pay tribute to the client's artistic background and Architect Frank Gehry's prior vision for the space.
The first floor includes artist studio, living area, dining area, kitchen, multi‐purpose room/guest bedroom, tea room, bathroom, and powder room.
The entire first floor was gutted to create an open‐air plan that accommodates work and display space for the owner, artist James Jean, as well as domestic necessities. Interiors are arranged around an existing oversized rectangular skylight. New windows were added to bring additional natural light into the kitchen and living areas. Brunn created a dynamic undulating staircase wall and utilized primary building materials—such as wood, concrete, and glass—as a nod to the architectural shapes and material palette famously used by Gehry at the time.
The white wall panes create separate spaces to offer privacy and a sense of tranquility. Minimal and contemporary furniture pieces are used to define the living spaces, letting the art on the walls take center stage. The kitchen and dining area to the side of the living area leads to a serene, all-white kitchen. A pure-white, Caesarstone kitchen island with elegant waterfall edges is sleek and elemental. A frameless window from countertop to ceiling draws in natural light into the kitchen, reflecting off the varied matte and glossy textures of the kitchen cabinets, adding depth to the design.
Before the expansive living area, the sculptural statement of the home emerges in the form of an expressive stairway. The shifting shapes and angles are in homage to Gehry as well as to Jean, who features flowing arabesques in his detailed work. Handcrafted, the walnut staircase extenuates the verticality of the space, beckoning one up the stairs. The dynamic swoosh shape captures the light throughout the day, accentuating the golden tones of the wood, as the slats encourage a dance of light and shadow. Planes continue to shift as one moves around the stairs, creating varied experiences going up and down.
A 14' x 12' pivoting wall at the far end of the house either hides or reveals a multi‐purpose room. A built‐in murphy bed emerges from the floor‐to‐ceiling bookcase to transform the library into a guest room. The library offers varied storage areas, open shelving for books, and closed cupboards for private items. An Eames Lounge Chair invites reading and contemplation.
Taking cues from Japanese tea houses, Brunn designed a wooden box‐ like volume within that space for a variety of activities: social gatherings, meditation, or music performance. Walnut planks create canted walls that radiate out from the floor‐to‐ceiling sliding glass wall, with the wood surface rising along the slanted ceiling. A strip of lighting subtly accents the ceiling piece and relates to various strips—dynamic chandelier, edge of the pivot wall, light through the stairway slats—that create a leitmotif throughout the house.
A lush garden area is visible and reachable through the glass sliders. Copper paneling clads the exterior of the “tea house” volume. A Japanese garden featuring traditional species of bamboo, gingko, and Japanese maple was conceived by Hitoshi Kitajima of Kaisei‐en, who worked at the Tokyo Imperial Palace. He carefully choreographed the plants to beckon a serene and peaceful setting for adults, as well as offer a play area for the Jeans’ son. A concrete bench with wood slats relates to the interior and faces a wall that the artist will use as outdoor painting space. The bubbling rock fountain is placed according to Feng Shui notions of good luck and prosperity.
Upstairs, natural light seeps into the stairwell tunnel through a glass‐enclosed open‐air meditative garden accessible through the master bathroom. Previously boxed in with no access to the outdoors, this area was designed as a garden space by Brunn to acknowledge Gehry’s original intention to make the area an encased greenhouse. This respite organizes the second level, and expands the otherwise small landing. Bedrooms are kept clean and serene. The master bath features a large, open shower with varying degrees of privacy; the glass wall facing the garden can be clear or opaque with the flick of a switch.
ABOUT DAN BRUNN ARCHITECTS
Los Angeles‐based Dan Brunn Architecture, founded in 2005 by Dan Brunn, develops commercial and residential projects worldwide. Winner of a 2012 Interior Design “Best of the Year” Project Award and a 2008 Red Dot Design Award, Brunn utilizes provocative spatial choreography to harmonize light with volume. Brunn’s portfolio includes furniture design. Addressing the needs of living room, bedroom and bath, the firm’s highly functional pieces provide modern, sophisticated, and streamlined solutions.
Contractor: Realco Creations
StructuralEngineer: Salas Design Company
Landscape Design: Kaisei‐en
Photos: Brandon Shigeta