Ex- and almost-architects lurk in every corner of Marmol Radziner. Not only do many construction staffers come from architecture backgrounds, but so do the heads of the in-house wood and metal shops. Brent Bryan, the wood shop's leader, studied architecture at Tulane University. “I like getting dirty better than sitting behind a desk,” he says. Just across the office, the four fabricators at the metal shop take their cues from Scott Enge, who worked for Steven Holl in the early 1990s and spent three years as an architect at Marmol Radziner. Now he oversees the making of custom windows, sliding doors, and hardware, often to match existing, out-of-production items in remodels and restorations. His metal expertise also factors into the firm's aspiration to build structural steel frames for prefab housing.
Placing the shops under the same roof as the architects' drafting tables facilitates the quality control the firm prizes. “In the process of drawing a cabinet or metal detail, the architect can go over and talk to the crafters,” says Leo Marmol. The 13-person wood shop often makes full-scale cardboard mockups of closets or cabinetry, setting them up on the site for the client's approval before going ahead with the permanent versions. In a couple of cases with irregular existing walls, it's even established a temporary, on-site cabinet shop to ensure the results are a perfect fit.
Along with its handmade detailing and woodwork, Marmol Radziner has a history of crafting custom furniture for clients. So its own made-to-order retail line seemed a logical next step. Five years ago it launched the Kings Road Group, a series of licensed, authorized replicas of the furniture in R. M. Schindler's 1922 Kings Road House. The firm fabricates the pieces in its wood and metal shops and sells them through showrooms in Los Angeles and New York City. It donates a portion of the income from the line to Friends of the Schindler House, which has given it full access to the original pieces. “We're recreating the originals in exacting detail,” says associate Daniella Wilson, who guides the firm's interiors and furniture divisions. “For example, we hard-wire-brush the wood to raise the grain so it has an old feel.”
More recently, Marmol Radziner Furniture developed an original line based on its bespoke pieces for Ron Radziner's own house. The luxurious, minimalist bedroom, living, dining, and indoor/outdoor collections come standard in walnut or maple with stainless or blackened steel hardware, and buyers frequently specify custom sizes or materials. Buoyed by its success with furniture so far, the firm plans a second original line modeled after the pieces designed for Leo Marmol's just-finished desert retreat. For more information on Marmol Radziner Furniture, visit its Web site at www.marmolradzinerfurniture.com.