In our ongoing quest to find collaborative cultural spaces that inspire social engagement as much as they encourage workflow, NeueHouse has become a multipurpose epicenter for COOL HUNTING. Though our NYC-based editorial team gathers at NeueHouse Madison Square each week, the other thoughtfully designed and carefully programmed outposts—including the brand new NeueHouse Venice Beach and its alluring rooftop oasis, Reunion—act as hubs for community.
Though it’s NeueHouse’s third Southern California location for creators, the 23,000-square-foot Venice Beach building is the first in the portfolio to sit just two blocks from the ocean. Bright and artfully imagined, this latest addition aligns with the architectural values of the other LA houses—from Hollywood, in the original CBS Studios, to Bradbury, in Downtown LA’s beloved landmark of the same name.
Anwar Mekhayech, co-founder of the highly awarded international studio DesignAgency (which had its 25th anniversary this year), developed the visual identity of NeueHouse Venice Beach. DesignAgency also spearheaded Bradbury, the restaurant and cafe at Hollywood and the 11th floor of Madison Square. “For Venice, we first walked the building three years ago,” Mekhayech tells us. “A lot of magic came from conversations with the owner, Tony Bill, a filmmaker with so many stories. Hanging out with him and hearing what used to happen on Market Street, it was so inspirational. It led to this sense that we could create a clubhouse of sorts in a special pocket of Venice.”
“It was a complete gut-job refurbishment with seismic upgrades,” Mekhayech says of the property, which previously provided office space for Snapchat. “Everything was boarded up and closed. There was no daylight. Our work was all about reviving the building and figuring out how to use the space.” To do so, DesignAgency combined two structures: 73 Market Street, the more historic corner building, and 63 Market Street, the warehouse building attached to it. Through this unification, they were able to activate the entire corner.
To hone the aesthetic, DesignAgency committed to a simple palette. “It’s not too beach-y and it’s not too midcentury modern, but it hits those notes,” Mekhayech says. It’s really earthy, with those materials and textures.” Altogether, Mekhayech and his team worked toward a feeling.
“We had what NeueHouse wanted to achieve and we checked those boxes but it was really much more organic,” he says. “It was about a couple of design narratives that we were thinking about; but it was more about the vibe and the culture and the activity of the space. It flows very well. You can wander through the space, up and down, and into the gallery.”
Mekhayech notes that it all comes down to the details—and that it will take a couple of times for people to observe everything that comes together to make it magnificent. He also says that details, color and textures will vary depending on the time of day. “When you are there at eight in the morning, in comparison to six at night, it has a whole different feeling,” he says. “That’s part of NeueHouse: you are there sometimes for 12 hours. The way the light hits the space throughout the day is really magical.”
There are thoughtful attributes galore—from the numerous plants to the big garage doors that open out to the street (a structural element that will surely influence programming opportunities). Perhaps most powerful among these flourishes, however, is the art. More than 20 works grace the walls, with pieces ranging from a David Hockney original to Shizu Saldamando’s “Portrait of Taco,” and contributions by Alison Saar, Rebecca Campbell, Venice local Charles Arnoldi and his daughter Natalie Arnoldi.
Caroline Brennan (of the art and design studio Silent Volume), an architect by trade and a member of the founding design team at NeueHouse, curated the space. “The foundation of every NeueHouse space has been that it’s designed like a home,” Brennan tells us. “We ask ourselves, ‘How do you make everyone, from all walks of life, feel comfortable through design, materials and even plants?’ We take into consideration color, size and texture. Location is the final layer.”
Some of Brennan’s approach to art curation is about pushing boundaries and being provocative, some of it is also about being pragmatic and representational. “It’s a mix of mediums and artists. There are women, the Black community and LGBTQ+ artists represented. It showcases young and established artists. We wanted to make sure local artists were represented too.”
Brennan, much like Mekhayech, listened to the building’s owner. “We worked with Tony,” she says. “We looked at Venice today and the lifestyle of Venice and how it’s changed since Tony got the building in the ’70s. We also looked to the daylight the building receives. We didn’t want anything dark or heavy. We wanted the artworks to sing in these well-lit spaces.”
Brennan brought in Pamela Auchincloss of ELEVEN+, a collective of international women curators, as a curatorial collaborator (the two had also worked together on NeueHouse Hollywood and Madison Square). “I used NeueHouse Venice Beach as an opportunity to reinvestigate and reengage the local art scene,” Auchincloss tells us. “When we started, we were both in charge of the mood for the New York and Hollywood houses. We had a great opportunity to set the tone of each space. With Venice Beach, some of the filters and parameters were oriented around logistics but it’s really kind of a dance. Art is the foundation of creative enterprise. Part of the thinking in the art at NeueHouse is that it mines the creative process.” Pieces on display have been consigned for 12 months and the program is a living one that will continue to develop.
As with the design of Venice Beach, the art program also impacts programming. “It’s not just about making the space look pretty,” Brennan says. “It’s about how we can get the artist involved—how they can be involved with events and programming. The foundation of the art program is about community. The art itself is the gateway to these artists, but there is a huge focus on furthering the relationship.” The art is also impactful, an observation that applies to the other NeueHouse locations, as well.
“Community is at the center of what makes Venice Beach so iconic,” Martine Bury, the Vice President of Programming and Experiential, tells us. “Just think about the Venice artists and counter-culture figures—from the beat poets to skaters of Dogtown who’ve captured our imaginations. Programming for NeueHouse Venice Beach takes inspiration and direction from our resident members at the new house, many of whom are anchoring our activations from panel discussions to immersive art experiences to music performances.” Altogether, creative energy exudes from every wall of NeueHouse Venice Beach—and members get to bask in it beneath the Southern California sun.
Images courtesy of NeueHouse