Half a block away from Venice Beach’s boardwalk is Spiller House. It is a pair of box-like units designed to be lived in by the owner and house tenants. The interior architecture is almost unchanged, with an unassuming exterior of corrugated-metal sheets and a facade made of unpainted metal sheets. It still displays a few peculiarities, such as naked studs not covered by drywall, rooms that have been cut at odd angles, and visible heating/cooling ductwork. A rectangular opening runs through the second-floor living area to reveal the nearly perpendicular orientation of the skylight on its roof.
According to Florian Marquardt (current steward), “It looks a little wild,” but there’s a logic. River, Marquardt’s two-year-old golden retriever, has modified his fetch game to suit this design. He likes to throw his toys straight up and must run up the stairs to retrieve them.
Marquardt was born in Cologne, Germany. He is a freelance creative director and moved into the house last spring. Six years into his second New York residency, Marquardt heard from friends that the rental unit was being vacated. The listing had yet to be published. He signed the lease almost immediately after a FaceTime virtual tour. Marquardt was acutely aware of the architectural significance of the home. He said, “To live in a Gehry home, even an older one is an incredible opportunity.”
Marquardt has lived in this West Coast home for nearly a year and still wears the all-black uniform of a New Yorker. He also has an impressive collection of vintage and new designs. Gehry’s aggressive deconstructivism is at odds with Marquardt’s preference for neutral tones and luxurious materials. The interiors are a study of harmonious contrasts. The living room’s Mario Bellini sofa and handwoven Scandinavian Wool rug blend well with concrete floors and a concrete fireplace with woodgrain patterns.
Marquardt has always opposed angular objects, but his recent purchase of a glass table with zigzagging steel legs could indicate that the house is starting to rub off on him. He says, “That’s something that I wouldn’t have purchased a year ago.”
The simple wooden staircase is dotted with exposed nails. The bedroom can also be used as a sitting area, with various vintage finds such as an office chair by Pierre Jeanneret in 1955 and Togo lounges. Marquardt put his bed on the second floor’s brighter, open mezzanine. He says that he can “wake up by the sun.” A further set of stairs leads to the roof deck and views of palm trees.
Marquardt often works from his black granite table at home, noting how shadows shift with the sun, subtly highlighting the architecture’s uniqueness. External reminders often confront him. Recently, a Ph.D. student called his doorbell to ask if he could let her in. Marquardt said she had just finished her doctorate and was interested in touring the house.