What if we told you we’re in the middle of a renaissance…one that famed sculptor Frederick Hart initiated in the 80s but lost steam soon after? One local artist and designer is breathing new life into a forgotten medium and it’s very exciting.
In the dark, quiet confines of his LA-based factory and warehouse, Casa Medici owner Tal McAbian carefully pours scalding resin before shaping, polishing and fabricating it for clients; luxury home owners, boutique hotels, restaurants and nightclubs across the country.
Some pieces are destined to become suspended leaf skeleton table tops. Others will be one-of-a-kind sculptures. And some will adorn the homes of the rich and famous; translucent bathtubs, custom desks or even a contemporary hand grenade sculpture for the multi-million dollar estate of Markus Persson (AKA Notch), the founder of Minecraft.
There’s no fancy showroom. There is no gallery to unveil. There are no passed hors d’oeuvres or cocktails. Just an artist at work, crafting his passion day in and day out.
Bella Los Angeles had the pleasure of speaking with McAbian to delve into his inspiration, the rebirth of resin and the latest trends in luxury home design:
Why did you start up Casa Medici?
I was introduced to the material, namely unsaturated poly resin, when we were building our nightclub, Exchange LA (www.exchangela.com), several years ago and was amazed with the light play opportunities resin offers; both reflective (ie, off metallic paints) & conductive (ie, through translucent/dyed resin).
What’s your creative background?
None education-wise, but I have always been interested in creating “ambiances” which establish a specific atmosphere, evoke a certain feeling and set a desired mood. This involves engaging as many of the senses as possible, visual stimulation being the most powerful.
What’s your inspiration for your pieces?
That usually depends on our involvement in the design, not just the manufacturing of each piece – sometimes, of course, we get a complete design concept & specs from a designer or architect, whereas other times, when we are engaged to come up with our own design concepts, those usually involve the type of establishment, where it is, what is it known for & who it attracts (obviously, residential projects differ as they are a lot more personal & private whereas hospitality, restaurant or nightlife establishments focus more on casting a wide net to attract and appease as many potential patrons and tastes as possible). Lastly, necessity (ie, problem solving) are always the mother of invention as well…
What goes into the manufacturing process?
If we are creating a bespoke & unique piece, we must first create a carving or sculpture (ie, “prototype”), then mold it (usually encased in a silicone mold), then perfect the first piece that comes out of that mold to create the actual production mold into which we pour the resin, sand, then coat and/or paint the final piece (unless the dyes & paints are in the piece itself, of course…).
What kind of pieces do you offer in your product line?
Since most of our work is bespoke, we offer pretty much what we sell…from branded display items or architectural elements, corporate giveaways and all the way to freestanding statutes, lighting encasements, surface coverings, furnishings and fixtures.
What are some of the hottest trends right now in luxury home/hospitality design?
The first trend I am seeing is actually one of the more significant reasons why I went into this business as noted above, the light play of resin…
Light play falls into two distinct categories – the traditional translucent panels (of resin, acrylic/polycarbonate, glass or any other material able to be translucent) which are back or under lit by LEDs and panels which feature a 3D concave (i.e., bas relief) pattern that are back-painted with opaque metallic paints and do not need a dedicated light source.
Below are some examples of both LED-illuminated items (five in total) and, following those, are examples of the 3D bas relief/concave patterns back-painted in metallic colors:
Another trend we are seeing, specifically with upscale contemporary private residences, are floating bathtubs, especially in master bathrooms. They are even regarded as standalone sculptures or pieces of art in some cases…
The first bathtub, “Gaia,” illustrates the level of perfection we must operate under (as the bathtub in question is a uniform solid translucent color, it can have no cracks or imperfections and, with the tenacity of resin, that is why no one in the world would agree to produce a bathtub such as this). With the second bathtub, we basically emulated a natural stone (although “opal silver” is not a natural stone, we were just trying to match the already stone-clad walls which had this metallic gray hue and fabricated the bathtub itself (prototype, mold and all…) as if it were actually carved from the earth (as you will notice the rough bottom vs. the straight plane chaffing along the sides of the bathtub exterior walls to its top). One bathtub is an uber-modern futuristic cocoon-like concoction, while the other is an emulation of nature – of two ends of the design spectrum.
Who are some of your notable clients and what did you create for them?
Markus Notch Persson (the creator of Minecraft and owner of what is today known as the “Minecraft Mansion”):
Beyond that, we fabricated a host of less significant surface coverings, architectural elements and accessories for the same residence.
Staples Center Stadium in DTLA (owned by AEG) for which we fabricated the following:
The W Hotel in Hollywood:
Herringbone Restaurant at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood:
For this project, we provided planters and a host of objet d’art & design accents.
You were an integral part of the architectural elements of the most expensive private residence built on spec – what was that experience like?
The project and vision were both marvelous, but the execution was extremely difficult and demanding, but hey, “If it doesn’t kill you…”
What’s one of your favorite installations?
Generally speaking, I love retail display because people are a lot more open to unconventional ways of showcasing their products, as long as the item/s showcased remain the focal point and the attention is drawn to them. Just last week we installed some display items at an optical shop, Optical Time, in Tarzana, California, which followed that line of thinking and was extremely fulfilling to execute.
What can customers expect when they buy from Casa Medici?
They can expect something that nobody else has…not only is every item extremely unique & original, but everything we make is also always practical & durable. Above and beyond everything, every piece is made with complete adherence to the integrity of each client (whether a family or brand) and follows their own vision and personality.