By Rosalba Curiel Posted July 23, 2008, 11:00 AM EDT
Bicoastal Businesses: Jeremy Smith, an independent contractor with experience helping galleries and artists produce large-scale or technically challenging installations, may not have pictured himself working on events, but an opportunity came along that he couldn’t pass up. Peter Brown and Jeffrey Hatfield, founders of New York-based design and production firm Brooklyn Guild, wanted to open an office in Los Angeles and had their sights set on Angeleno resident Smith, who met Hatfield in Los Angeles through a mutual colleague. “We needed somebody we could trust with our clients and who could, if need be, hang from a crane and weld,” Hatfield says. Smith was intrigued by the company’s full-service approach to production: “Jeffrey really sold me with the design aspect,” Smith says. “[The position] gives me the chance to fabricate pieces and work with clients directly instead of only working in a studio, where it’s someone saying, ‘This is what I want; now make it.’ Instead, we’re getting a little more interaction with the client—you give them ideas and they give you ideas, so you’re really working together on the whole project.” In November 2007, the trio opened Los Angeles Guild, with Smith permanently based in the West Coast office and Brown and Hatfield managing both branches.
At Your Service: Like its New York counterpart, L.A. Guild specializes in events and window and in-store displays for companies like Stella McCartney, M.A.C., and Dior. (Dior’s request that the Guild partners handle the development of its window displays in L.A. influenced their decision to expand the company.) “I don’t need to worry about what they are doing in L.A. even if I am in New York—they’re my eyes and ears,” says Moushette Maquilon, a visual manager at Dior. “We meet in New York, I give them the inspiration, and they run with it. They’re good at doing their job without needing any babysitting.”
In addition to window displays, the company offers a variety of other services. The Gagosian Gallery has turned to the Guild for help in creating a prototype for the packaging of an artist’s book and to install a large-scale Anselm Kiefer exhibit. Smith fabricated a steel framework and cut holes in the venue walls to accommodate a 60-foot-long palm tree that is part of the exhibition. “It’s an art installation, yes, but a lot of the work behind it is similar to event production—it just stays up a little bit longer,” Smith says.
For a South by Southwest event for Levi’s, the denim company’s creative director approached the team with a mere cocktail-napkin sketch and said, “We’re thinking pagodas.” In the span of 10 days, Hatfield created renderings of potential designs and Smith built two 11-foot-tall pagodas, as well as a steel structure inspired by the Watts towers, which was held together with rivets reminiscent of the ones that appear on Levi’s jeans.
Market Watch: For the time being, the trio is happy focusing on the New York and L.A. branches and unifying the Guild brand, but they haven’t ruled out expanding into additional markets, like Miami and Chicago. The company is equipped to take on any domestic client, but now that it has a West Coast location, it is keen on beginning relationships with Northwest-based companies like Apple, Nike, and Adidas.