Los Angeles - A pastiche of billboards, signs and banners dominates the visual landscape on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. So when Brian Heberling hired Escher GruneWardena Architecture (Los Angeles) to design the Electric Sun Tanning Salon at the corner of Beverly and La Cienega, the firm decided to create a soothing contrast to the surrounding visual hubbub.
Consequently, the architects treat the salon as a functional art installation providing special experiences for a sophisticated clientele. Area artist Jonathan Williams devised an environment of luminous abstract imagery that can be enjoyed by both customers of the salon and passersby.
Light serves as a central element in defining the space. The quality of light emanating from the salon's tanning beds serves as a major feature, as is the light's relationship to the colorful graphics on opaque acrylic that wrap around the tanning rooms. Lining the window wall facing the street, the rooms resemble lanterns of delicate light when the tanning beds are activated.
For graphics, Williams abstracted elements from nature that connote outdoor life and leisure, such as flowers and fruit. He also included graphics derived from shapes made by aluminum foil -- a subtle wink at the silver reflectors that sun worshippers use at the beach. "Like billboards, these images are meant to evoke pleasure, delight and a sense of immediacy," Williams explains.
Beyond the colorful areas, volumes of white walls and high-gloss floor finish enhance the light decoration. Furniture, including the reception desk and seating, was designed as spare sculptural objects floating in a tranquil space.
Client: Electric Sun Tanning Salon, Los Angeles -- Brian Heberling, owner
Design Team: Escher GuneWardena Architecture, Los Angeles -- Frank Escher, partner; Ravi GuneWardena, partner; Bojana Banyasz
General Contractor: Castle Rock Construction Corp., Anaheim, Calif.
Electrical Contractor: Dan Filipi, Reseda, Calif.
Mechanical Contractor: Air Engineering, Sylmar, Calif.
Structural Engineer: Mahda Aluzri, Glendale, Calif.
Graphic Artist: Jonathan Williams, Los Angeles
Suppliers: American Standard, Piscataway, N.J., House of Stainless, Torrance, Calif. (fixturing); Du Pont, Wilmington, Del. (high-gloss floor paint); Karma Kontrol, Los Angeles (lighting); Frank Lloyd, La Crescenta, Calif. (furniture); Wessel Mechanical Service, Burbank, Calif. (steel-frame rooms); Plastic Fabricators, Los Angeles (plexiglass installing); Finishing Studio, Los Angeles (plexiglass laminating); Warner Brothers Studios Scenic Art Department, Burbank, Calif. (printing)
Photography: John Ellis, Santa Monica, Calif.