Carpenters Workshop Gallery founders Loïc Le Gaillard and Julien Lombrail have a deep appreciation for adaptive reuse. The esteemed dealer of objets that blur preconceived notions of where design ends and art begins is so named for its first-ever gallery, housed in a former carpentry workshop in London’s tony Chelsea neighborhood. Since then, the gallery has established itself as an industry-leading stronghold of haute artisanry by launching London’s PAD art and design fair and a network of galleries spanning Paris, London, New York, and now Los Angeles.
With an inaugural exhibition by Spanish sculptor Nacho Carbonell, Carpenters Workshop’s long-awaited presence in Los Angeles is officially here. The gallery joins the likes of Lisson, Sean Kelly, Pace, The Hole, and Maccarone in bringing the blue-chip scene to West Coast–based collectors.
Carbonell’s pieces for the show—an illusory concrete tree, a cloud-like chandelier evocative of a cocoon, and an illuminated rainbow made of broken glass—draw inspiration from his memories of Valencia, Spain, and the similarities it bears to the City of Angels His tables and cabinets recall the texture of the sun-baked ground, while deft use of mesh and fishing nets and his first-ever fountain evoke an oceanic presence.
“Nacho is perfect for L.A. and the Wild, Wild West—strong, rogue, and beautiful at the same time, it’s art from the gut.” Lombrail says of the connection between Carbonell’s fantastical, dreamlike sculptures and the new gallery. “Each unique work is a portrait of his brain.”
Le Gaillard and Lombrail enlisted local firm Standard Architecture, which designed Pace and Maccarone’s L.A. outposts, to transform a former West Hollywood warehouse into a pristine environment befitting Carpenters Workshop Gallery’s roster of collectible design objects—and the discerning sensibilities of the city’s burgeoning collector scene. In the following interview, the firm’s partners Jeffrey Allsbrook and Silvia Kuhle, share how they brought the space to life.
Project Description: The newest outpost for Carpenters Workshop Gallery is located in West Hollywood along Santa Monica Boulevard. The gallery occupies a 5,750-square-foot bowstring truss warehouse.Polished concrete floors, exposed white painted bowstring trusses, white brick walls, and daylight streaming through evenly spaced skylights inform the interior. New drywall partitions are intentionally located to create layered spaces. The existing exterior brick building was painted charcoal and is set back from the street, separated by a narrow, hedged gravel courtyard.
Project Inspiration: We conceived the gallery’s design from the back to the front. The entrance, off an alley from the rear of the gallery, brings an element of discovery derived from a speakeasy bar.
Visitors pass by a loading dock to enter a 35-foot-deep art storage space. Drywall partitions create a narrow passage separating the storage area from the gallery. When passing this threshold, the public enters the expansive 50-by-85-foot exhibition space. Soft filtered daylight surrounds the displayed objects.
Project Blueprint: We created a sequence of varied rooms following the spacing of the warehouse’s existing roof trusses. These partitioned spaces are organized from back to front, starting at the alley and ending at Santa Monica Boulevard.
In addition to the rear art storage and expansive center gallery, we created a narrow gallery space bordering the wall-to-wall storefront glazing. Here, the interior connects to an outdoor garden spanning the property’s width and separating the gallery from the street.
Our approach brought clarity to the existing building and site and created an empty vessel. The concept roots Carpenters Workshop Gallery in L.A. ‘s fabric.
The property had been left vacant and unmaintained. Discovering, understanding, and building on the existing context made it successful.