Los Angeles Interior Design: Insights from Sean Kim

From Broadway to the boardroom, Sean Kim brings a fresh and bold approach to solution based award-winning designs recognized by AIA, IIDA and Business Week/Architectural Record. As the new Vice President and Interiors Studio Lead for Corgan’s Los Angeles office, his passion to help clients flourish drives his creative process. He brings a collaborative process deeply rooted in his experience working with the top theater professionals in NYC and his drive for enhancing the client story and the holistic experience through design.

Sean comes to Corgan after designing for some of the largest names in Southern California’s healthcare, education, and aviation sectors. But his projects aren’t the only thing winning awards. As a Tony award-winner, Sean is a storyteller through and through. “I treat each space as a set piece, making sure that the room is the ideal backdrop for the story to unfold. Each project needs a good story—a narrative that resonates with the design—and the walls and space provide the canvas to set the stage,” says Sean.

Sean’s passionate, collaborative and innovative spirit informs the timeless interiors that uniquely reflect their culture and brand. Now, as he looks to elevate the design profile of Corgan's Los Angeles office and continues to nurture its success, Sean shares some of the key trends local clients are looking for and what’s ahead for Southern California design.

What do local lifestyle preferences mean for the amenities arms race in Los Angeles?

We have great weather here in LA where “laid back cool casual” is a verb. Our current office is in Playa Vista—the heart of Silicon Beach, where outdoor spaces with fire pits and beach chairs nestled in succulents give people an option to work away from their desks. A cul-de-sac where gourmet food trucks can pull up next to picnic tables and hammocks for an afternoon nap is the new normal. Bi-folding glass panels reveal sky decks with lap pools, yoga studios, outdoor kitchen and dog decks.  The winners in the amenities arms race are those redefining corporate culture by offering amenities to recruit and retain the best talent and encourage a sense of community and belonging.

How do you think Southern California’s changing economies will influence design and local aesthetics?

Southern California's economic landscape has changed. It will always be synonymous with traditional Hollywood entertainment, but now the Southland boasts a competitive Silicon Beach—home to some of the largest names in tech, media, advertising and innovative startups from Venice to Culver City. The need for high-level security to protect digital content is in many cases driving the necessity of consolidating under one building or campus. The informal post-industrial/warehouse chic design has now found its way to hospitality, professional services and entertainment interiors projects.

Los Angeles is also known for its diversity in culture and neighborhoods— a melting pot that inspires and informs the interiors of spaces here. Curated brand experiences, authenticity, and social consciousness are at the core of what’s driving the new alternate corporate culture.

Since there is an abundance of sunlight, the Angelenos crave Pantone inspired colors: turquoise, coral, mint, cadmium yellow contrasting with white or raw concrete. With so much new construction, exposed concrete and wood, the city becomes an urban canvas for porcelain tiles, feature artwork, and graffiti-inspired pieces balancing the museum-quality art and hospitality inspired finishes.

Traffic—you can’t talk about LA without addressing bumper to bumper traffic. How do you think design will respond to addressing some of the LA’s greatest challenges and the evolutions ahead?

LA traffic has a tremendous impact on our quality of life. But, master-planned self-sustaining campuses have become a model for developments in some LA neighborhoods. A campus designed to house one or multiple brands with shared amenities, communal and social spaces have become the template to attract millennials and Gen Z employees. App-based bike rental and scooters are popular amenities to encourage a pedestrian culture and combat overcrowded streets and freeways while mixed-use buildings at metro stops activate the neighborhood and increase accessibility to shops, cafes and retail. Lastly, coworking is not just a trend but offers a real solution in a well-resourced, tech-enriched work environment that is more convenient, allows for around the clock remote access, and creates communal nodes that bring all the amenities of bigger firms to easier-to-get-to, shared and bite-sized ­­­tenants throughout the greater LA area.


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