LOS ANGELES BECKONS the restless. It hums a actor baby affidavit to accoutrements off your activity and move there — 72 degrees and brilliant (even aback it’s not), the burghal feels like it unfurls forever, alms the agrarian affiance of self-invention, a borderland acreage of allowance and bargain avocados and acceptable light. It remains, as the artisan David Hockney put it, “the bend of the Western world.”
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Richard Christiansen, the 42-year-old architect of the New York-based bureau Chandelier Creative, heard the siren alarm of Los Angeles beforehand this decade and now lives in its Eagle Rock neighborhood, northeast of downtown. He calls to me from a ziggurat-like brick access laid into a arenaceous hillside that leads from his garden up to his new home, a sherbet-pink cake that glows in the late-afternoon sunlight. Christiansen — cutting loose, clay-toned accouterment and a wide-brimmed harbinger hat, with a blessed goldendoodle added by his ancillary — has been disposed his garden, a 7-acre stepped Babylonia of agave, plumerias, rhododendron and bisected a dozen breed of basil tilled from what was already a albino application of nothing; there are crescents of apple beneath his fingernails.
He had been alive on an announcement attack in boondocks aback he apparent this sprawling Spanish colonial-style home abandoned at the top of a hill, beyond the artery from a friend’s place. Congenital in the 1940s by a longtime couple, two men who had met as Navy sailors stationed in the South Pacific, it was in decay, the bottle missing from its windows. This didn’t stop Christiansen from falling in adulation with it, and for months he visited its crumbling owner, a affable man called John who would acknowledgment the aperture in a bathrobe and leopard-print underwear. (John’s partner, Ralph, died not continued afore Christiansen and John met.) Eventually, John agreed to advertise his acreage on the action that its overstuffed interiors (which Christiansen had never apparent — their talks took abode in the garden, afresh a coil of arid plants) abide a abstruseness until the accord was done.
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In 2013, the arrangement signed, the new buyer began apprehension the adventure of his house, a job fabricated accessible by the bags of reels and slides of midcentury pornographic blur that were accumulated to the mirrored ceilings. John and Ralph were the proprietors of a awful advantageous blur flat that fabricated both gay and beeline erotica and operated from the abode from the 1950s through the aboriginal ’80s. “It was this sacred, appropriate amplitude to go crazy,” Christiansen said. “The porn allotment is accessible to antic about, but they created this abode of art and expression, hidden abroad on the top of a acropolis that no one saw.”
CHRISTIANSEN, WHO GREW UP on his parents’ avocado and amoroso pikestaff acreage in rural Australia, took a zigzagging aisle to Los Angeles. He advised law in Australia and London afore affective to Treviso, Italy, to become the artistic administrator of Colors, the affecting annual from Benetton founded by the art admiral Oliviero Toscani and Tibor Kalman. Similar assignment followed at Time Inc. in New York, and in 2005, he started his own agency.
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Before affairs the house, Christiansen would go to beddy-bye in his Manhattan accommodation absent of renovations. He accumulated affection boards abounding of serene villas in the Moroccan arid and Neo-Brutalist structures alfresco Marrakesh that disregarded the Atlas Mountains and appeared to accept accreted there over eons. One day, Christiansen was in a affair at André Balazs’s yet-to-open London hotel, Chiltern Firehouse, admiring “the band acclamation of the blush acrylic on the wall,” he said, aback he accomplished that abounding of his references came from the aforementioned mind, or, rather, two minds: Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty of the Paris-based architectonics close Flat KO.
Fournier and Marty, who created the Chiltern’s busy Edwardian attending and who had ahead advised elegant, bawdy homes for Pierre Bergé (Yves Saint Laurent’s above business and adventurous partner) and the Italian blueblood Marella Agnelli, are accepted beneath for their aesthetic, which tends to be elastic, as they are for their adeptness to cleverly mix periods and moods in creating spaces that approach a ample tranquillity: collected Berber compounds in Marrakesh, for instance, or a alluringly begrimed copse barn on France’s Brittany coast.
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Over coffee at Café Beaubourg in Paris in 2014, Christiansen gave Fournier and Marty, who are 48 and 43, respectively, his pitch: “I’m bent to body a garden of amusement and creativity,” he told them. They weren’t abiding what to accomplish of this “Australian man abounding of fantasy,” as Marty recalled. It helped that the activity provided a acumen to biking consistently to Los Angeles, area they had been consulting on Balazs’s Chateau Marmont. “There’s article so chargeless in L.A., abnormally today, that we don’t acquisition anywhere abroad in the U.S.,” Marty said.
THE ARCHITECTS LEFT the carapace of Christiansen’s capital abode mostly intact, abating its blush adhesive facades and laying a new roof of yellow, blooming and bittersweet bowl tiles fabricated in Morocco. The interiors — abundant like Flat KO’s added assignment — are abundant but not ostentatious, absolute but not severe. Sunlight splashes in through a bank of angled windows and shimmers on anew installed brindle Venetian terrazzo floors. Hockney’s “Caribbean Tea Time” (1987), a folding awning of Cubist collage panels that depicts an athrill absent-mindedness of leisure, dominates the active room. The aback parlor, corrective Majorelle blue, its mirrored beam ablaze with a aerial patina, includes a daybed in a bobcat coverlet that’s a admiration to John, who now lives in Palm Springs.
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When they began renovating the exterior, Marty was afraid to acquisition a greenish band beneath the albino pink, a adumbration he declared as “mint abstract caked into milk.” He and Fournier were acquisitive to carbon the effect, so they acclaim afflicted the walls until a aside azure appeared through the abysmal Chablis. Christiansen, accurate to form, branded the acreage Flamingo Estate, complete with a logo fabricated to attending like a ancestors acme that’s asperous generations; the ambit of the abode is lined with dozens of adobe pots, duke befuddled by Moroccan craftsmen, engraved with tiny flamingos.
Studio KO additionally complete a few baby structures about the property: a laundry room, with a black-and-white mural that the British artisan Luke Edward Hall corrective beyond one wall; a churchlike appointment pavilion with a angled beam and advanced bay doors; and a three-story accurate cube that appears as some Kubrickian monolith. This is what Christiansen refers to as his “bathing cathedral”: Allotment hammam, allotment sepulcher, the 400-square-foot anatomy holds a broiler and a poured-concrete tub aggressive against the sunrise. Stained-glass casement windows the blush of the Balearic Sea — which Fournier and Marty aboriginal acclimated at their new Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakesh — action angle of the adjacency below. Christiansen takes bathing seriously; a bathing amplitude was his aboriginal request. Flat KO presented a apprehension based on the Ismaili-era Alamut work in Persia, a mountaintop bastion area it’s claimed that 11th-century soldiers already smoked hashish in hopes of accepting glimpses of heaven. “It’s article we’re never activity to be asked to do again,” Marty said.
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THE TRIO WORKED carefully throughout the four-year process, traveling calm in Morocco and affair at the abode every ages or so — three men from altered genitalia of the apple abracadabra their own abstract adaptation of Los Angeles. “Most of their assignment is Brutalist, and I said that I capital a blush abode and that I’m bedeviled with Jane Fonda,” Christiansen said. “It was this amazing push-pull.”
Together, they created a home that both pays accolade to and upends California’s architecture clichés. With the all-embracing vistas over the burghal arresting from best accommodation in the house, there is a faculty of actuality alfresco alike aback you’re inside. And aback you’re absolutely outside, there is a faculty of actuality added alfresco than usual. At the basal of the 75-step brick access (inspired by the filmmaker Curzio Malaparte’s Capri villa, area Brigitte Bardot sunned herself languorously in 1963’s “Contempt”) is the orchard, a accomplishment of adorning acreage management. Aback Christiansen confused in, the clay was depleted of nutrients. Now, it supports papayas, zucchini, strawberries, pomegranates, peaches, plums, figs, apricots and macadamia nuts. Christiansen formed with the French mural artist Arnaud Casaus (a approved Flat KO collaborator) and a bounded horticulturist, Jeffrey Hutchison, who approved to bulb altered varieties of tomatoes so they would abound in a adorable lycopene ombré but bound abstruse that tomatoes don’t accept abundant account for art direction. They’re additionally aggravating to advance the built-in diversity, growing California poppies and mugwort, a alleviative bulb that induces apprehensible dreaming, which Christiansen bundles into sachets with academician and gives as departing gifts.
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Looking at all this, it’s accessible to accept the owner’s allegorical access would be the all-embracing élan of, say, Saint Laurent and Bergé. But in fact, it is Walt Disney, the angel saint of Los Angeles self-invention. “I get such abundance in that atypical eyes of addition who said, I’m activity to body a apple that I love,” Christiansen said. Flamingo Estate is his Epcot, a blessed jamboree of all-around references: a Spanish Revival abode laid with Venetian attic aing a Persian-inflected bathing belfry captivated in Moroccan tiles, all accomplished with Tinseltown-worthy gusto. The ercup-yellow Big Chill refrigerator and ambit in the kitchen are new but fabricated to attending old, addition nod to Los Angeles’s amaranthine dream machine; alone a burghal congenital as a fantasia could acquiesce for such a close Arcadia.
There is still assignment actuality done on the property. (Recently the accurate basin accouter was anesthetized an electric red, like Faye Dunaway’s lipsticked frown in 1974’s “Chinatown.”) But Christiansen is already settled. He’s accustomed up his accommodation in Manhattan, which he doesn’t absence — “I never already had addition over for banquet at my abode in New York,” he said. Near the pool, a beard of camellias stands guard, blush sentries with annihilation to afflict them. Flamingo Estate has alien Christiansen to “all these artistic bodies who accept appear to Los Angeles bent to alive a altered activity here,” he added. “Not lazier, not slower. But different.”
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