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Where does an Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe winner go for inspiration? Not far if they create an incredible enviroment to work in, and that is exactly what composer Mychael Danna has done. Danna, best known for his Academy Award winning score to Life of Pi, has penned the music to such hits as Little Miss Sunshine, 500 Days of Summer, Moneyball, and Storks to name a few. After moving from Canada to Los Angeles, Danna set to work planning to transform a two story Hollywood condo into a dream studio where he could draw inspiration for his next award winning score. What he created is nothing short of a palace, in which any Maharaja or British Officer would feel right at home, in 1916 that is. Take an exclusive peek inside this remarkable retreat.
Composer Mychael Danna
May 5th, 2017 HOLLYWOOD
After deciding on the right space, the perfect blank canvas to start with, Danna enlisted the help of veteran environment wizard Christian Marcus, the man who helped the Houston Brothers deliver such Hollywood gems as No Vacancy, Good Times at Davey Wayne's, Harvard & Stone, and Breakroom 86, among others. "We met and discussed what Mychael was looking for." says Marcus. "We were starting with an empty box, and could go anywhere." The empty box he's referring to, was a gutted two story condo nestled in a 1929 building, a stones throw from the iconic Capital Records building. "Books, History, Britian, and India" read the notes from that first meeting. "I came back to Mychael with the concept of a British Club, a sort of private club for say, British officers stationed in India during the Edwardian period, a place for adventures, and quiet reflection." After sketching up some images of the specific design, the two got to work sourcing materials, antiques, and ephemera from the time period.
Marcus spent nearly 4 months purchasing antiques, fabrics and books for the project, as well as building custom furniture and bookshelves before even beginning work in the actual space. "Both Mychael and I are suckers for detail, and we pulled out all the stops on this project." Marcus admitted. Slowly the concrete box was transformed, worn plaster walls and warm wooden surfaces replaced the cold grey walls and floors. "I like the idea that people coming into the space for the first time just assume it's been that way for a hundred years." says Danna. "It's a fine line, in design, to create age and wear, without creating neglect or disrepair." adds Marcus. Detail upon detail began to take shape as the two hashed out last minute details, "We left certain elements open to organic growth." says Marcus. "Working on so many complicated theme bars taught me to allow for a certain flexibility in design. As a space comes together, certain areas start to explain themselves, and you just go with it." explains Marcus.
Every inch of the space is well thought out and executed, but where, we had to ask is the recording studio and technical equipment? "Hidden away, although that is the purpose of this space, nobody wants to see the guts of the machine!" exclaims Marcus. Secreted away behind doors marked 221a and 221b (an inside nod to Sherlock Holmes) is Danna's machine. "The best thing about coming to work here, is that it feels nothing like work." says Danna.
Walking from the building's rather unremarkable hallway into Danna's studio is a bit like entering a Disney ride. One can leave the weary world behind them, and emerge themselves in a wonderful, exotic, world of imagination and inspiration. "Projects like this, partnerships like this rarely come along, but when they do, it's a chance to really create magic. We like this version of the world far more than the real one!" says Marcus.
Marcus, who married his partner Erika Diehl, mid-project says, "This was really a jewel in the crown for both Mychael and myself. We were introduced through mutual friends who knew we'd hit it off, and we did, this project was perfect for the two of us." So what's next for Marcus? "I'll continue expanding in this direction. I am moving a long-standing Edwardian natural history museum project forward this year." he revealed. As for the king of this castle, Danna is wrapping up scoring for Netflix's new series "The Last Tycoon", and no doubt, inspired by such an exotic new environment, we can expect many, many more masterpieces to emerge from this inspiring, unique workplace.
Designer Christian Marcus in the world he created.
Pictured above are shots of the condo as it looked before the transformation.