L.A. is the New...
Amid widespread reports in the popular media about Los Angeles’s rising fortunes on the international design and art scenes, the question remains: How much of the reportage is simply hype and how much is based in reality? Architect Marwan Al-Sayed and industrial designer Billy Cotton have recently planted their flags in Los Angeles, and both have much to say—from two distinct perspectives—about the city’s present state of ferment, its fascinating (and often oversimplified) cultural heritage, and the mix of social, artistic, financial, and political dynamics impacting contemporary design practice and discourse. From the potentially burdensome legacy of the Case Study crowd to the influx of artists and art galleries driving the wholesale redevel- opment of long-neglected neighborhoods, a web of complex issues is shaping current opportunities—and possible pitfalls—for innovative creative expression and professional growth in Los Angeles.
Marwan Al-Sayed relocated his practice, Marwan Al-Sayed Inc., to Los Angeles in 2014 after nearly 15 years in Phoenix. Prior to that, he was a senior associate at the firm of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien in New York. His work spans large-scale master planning for universities, public parks, and resorts to private residences in the U.S. and abroad. His “House of Earth and Light” (1997–2002) received international attention and was included in the Cooper Hewitt Inaugural National Design Trien- nale. In 2002, he was named an “Emerging Voice” by the Architectural League of New York, a citation followed by honors from the National Academy of Arts and Letters and the Chicago Athenaeum. Recently, he completed the design of the Amangiri hotel in Utah in collaboration with Rick Joy and Wendell Burnette.
Billy Cotton studied industrial design at Pratt Institute and set up his own firm, Custom Resource, in 2002 in New York City. In addition to designing bespoke furniture, he also oversees architectural and interior design projects for a broad range of clients. His immersion in the art world has garnered commissions from numerous artists and gallery owners, including Cindy Sherman, Carol Bove, Mirabelle Marden, Janelle Reiring (Metro Pictures, NYC), and Michele Maccarone (Maccarone, NYC and LA). His Long Island home for Cindy Sherman was recently published in Architectural Digest.
Mayer Rus is the West Coast Editor ofArchitectural Digest. He moved to L.A. in 2008 after two decades in New York, during which time he was editor-in-chief ofInterior Design magazine and design editor of House & Garden. Prior to joining AD, he spent four painful years as the design and culture editor of the Los Angeles Times Magazine. His writing has been published in the New York Times, Artforum, the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Wallpaper, and numerous other publications.