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Above the Clouds
By Maile Pingel | Photo: Photography by Dustin Downing | April 13, 2017
When a French couple decided to build the ultimate L.A. hilltop home, they turned to husband-and-wife design team Lars Oliver Hypko and Mary Ta to create a most spectacular space.
There has been a palpable shift in contemporary design over the last few years, and it’s a change perhaps best understood by Mary Ta and Lars Oliver Hypko, owners of the West Hollywood design showroom Mass Beverly on Beverly Boulevard. “L.A. isn’t a transitional city anymore, people are moving here permanently,” says Ta. With putting down roots comes a greater desire for quality, for something long-lasting, and the sense that a home can evolve and grow along with its owners. The minimalist “white box” architecture of the early aughts has given way to a softer and more thoughtfully expressed version in which luxury materials, custom elements and hand-application elevate a design from simply high-level to stratospheric. And it’s something that Ta and Hypko have mastered.
The owners of this house, which sits on a ridge in the Doheny Estates neighborhood high above the famous Bird Streets, had been clients of Mass, which Ta and Hypko launched in September of 2014. The owners knew precisely what they wanted and, even more importantly, knew Ta and Hypko, with the range of international luxury products and in-house capabilities they offer, could meet their extraordinary demands. The husband is a French tech-industry pioneer and has built several vacation homes for his family over the years, including one on Lac d’Enghien, a picturesque lake just north of Paris, and one on the Côte d’Azur. “They’re very sophisticated people,” says Ta. “They’re used to a certain level of quality.”
Built from the ground up by Bowery Design Group with Hypko overseeing daily operations (he studied architecture at the University of Florence in Italy before a career in managing European furniture exports), the 12,500-square-foot home occupies one of the city’s most breathtaking lots with views that stretch to the Channel Islands. The incomparable setting allowed for a two-story, four-bedroom main house at the tip of the promontory, with a large central motor court that leads to a glass-walled garage (“It’s our Ferris Bueller moment,” says Hypko with a laugh) and a guesthouse at the opposite end. Making use of the steep hillside, a lower level, which includes a lounge area, a bar, a wine cellar, a spa, an estate manager’s office and a theater replete with its own little lobby, seamlessly connects the home and guesthouse beneath the motor court.
But it’s inside the house that Ta, who also owns Minotti LA, and Hypko really hit their stride. “We’re a resource, not just a platform,” explains Ta of the A to Z furnishings and services provided by Mass. “We’re literally in construction with our clients. We’re right there for all the steps: lighting and plumbing, the roughs and then the built-ins.” Working hand in hand with developers, contractors and interior designers, as well as homeowners, the couple offers what they jointly call a “360-degree approach to design.” Because they have close relationships with so many top manufacturers—Rimadesio, De Sede, Ernestomeda, Henge, Bottega Veneta Home and MisuraEmme, to name just a few—they are able to offer clients otherwise impossible options. Rather than simply delivering a closet or a kitchen or even a stairwell for installation, the couple is able to coordinate over-the-top Mass Beverly custom designs by utilizing multiple specialist manufacturers for a single design element.
“We love the collaboration and challenge of making companies work together to customize products,” adds Ta, noting key elements in the house (like the master bedroom’s illuminated and upholstered headboard) where Italian manufactures came together to create one-off designs. Another example of extraordinary detail comes in the kitchen, which was custom-fabricated with Ernestomeda. It was constructed in Italy, assembled for accuracy, disassembled and then shipped to Los Angeles for final installation. “The owners insisted that the artisans that make the work come to the home to do the installation so that they could fully realize their vision,” explains Hypko.
Not surprisingly, the 2 ½-year-project has created a deep bond between Ta, Hypko and their clients. “This isn’t just a box, and that really tested us,” says Ta—but no hurdle was insurmountable. “Our skilled staff makes us very efficient,” she continues. “They have a point of view; they’re interested in the products; and they can do all of the drawings. Because we know the products so well, we can help designers and homeowners strategize every aspect of a project.”
“We enjoyed having a client that wanted to push manufacturers,” continues Hypko. “L.A. is evolving in style—it’s been a rapid boom—and we want to make our projects unique. Part of our goal is to create soft, beautiful, customizable elements, not just flat walls. In this house we’ve used wallpaper, stucco, stone, wood—we’ve taken the time to create layers.” And while some glass-walled rooms open entirely onto terraces and the infinity pool, others nestle into the hillside more quietly, like the built-in ebony-wood library, which is a warm, grounded and restful space. “We like the Japanese idea of moments of reflection,” says Hypko. And whether it’s the water and fire feature that welcomes guests to the front door; the indoor-outdoor suspended fireplace in the master bedroom; or the art collection that Ta and Hypko co-curated with Timothy Yarger Fine Art Gallery in Beverly Hills featuring artists Bertil Petersson, Udo Noger and Moshé Elimelech, the reflective moments are many, and the owners couldn’t be happier.
“They’re enthralled by the quality and integrity of the house, and by its curation,” continues Hypko. “There are great heights and depths to the house, a continuity and a flow, with many special finishes—we did the total integration of materials and spaces, from cabinetry to artwork. We wanted the house to feel substantial but comfortable. It’s a private home and should feel that way,” he says. “Plus, it was fun to join forces with everyone. This was a dream team. It was really, really good!” That spirit of collaboration, of being stronger together, has built many friendships along the way. “It’s been a huge referral system for all of us,” adds Ta. “There are no boundaries. We can just be supportive of each other. That’s what really makes these large, full-scale projects such fun.”
And while modern design may always be about clean lines and a determined perfection, this burgeoning, newly redefined expression of contemporary style is, as Hypko explains, “a more natural and greener way of living, but one that’s still absolutely luxurious.” The whole concept behind the project is the ancient Greek notion of the five classical elements: earth, water, fire, air and aether. True to its ethos, there is even a petite terraced vegetable garden with raised beds and citrus trees planted behind the guesthouse. “The owners have created a warm, sophisticated home, with a European sensibility that’s perfectly suited to L.A.,” he adds. “It’s a piece of art in and of itself, built with a love for design and family.”
Tom Fanning, Bowery Design Group
Lars Oliver Hypko and Mary Ta, Mass Beverly
Leather sofa in the study
Custom kitchen designed with Mass Beverly
Refrigerator, freezer, wall ovens, steam oven, induction cooktop and hood
GALLOTTI & RADICE
Lighting in the office and lounge
Kitchen and bathroom faucets
Oak woodwork on the first floor
Home theater lounges and ottomans
METROPOLIS BY IVAS
Specialized wall finishes in the living room and hallway
Knock2open dishwasher in the kitchen
TIMOTHY YARGER FINE ART GALLERY
Artwork throughout the home