Tour L.A.'s Most Outrageous Office Space & Peep Some Killer Style

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on March 15.]
If Don Draper could hop in a Delorean, he’d park it in front of TBWA\Chiat\Day’s eff-the-establishment office space in Playa Vista. Home to the whiz kids behind America’s most prolific ads (Apple’s splashy neon billboards, the Energizer Bunny, and Taco Bell’s chihuahua), the radically modern building designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects serves as fertile breeding ground for the quick-witted tone of the unconventional agency.
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Within minutes of our arrival inside the technicolor structure, a surfer dude on a skateboard cruised by, four pooches were spotted, and our photographer immediately knew we’d max out our slated time to shoot. Between stylish ladies rocking edgy looks, a massive indoor basketball court, and whacked out tchotchkes everywhere we turned, it was an other-worldly spectacle for even the most eye-candy indifferent.
Once aesthetic equilibrium was restored, we got the lay of the land, and snapped as many pics of the trendy troops and dramatic environs as time would allow. But prepare yourself before you peep this amazing "Ad City"— it's enough to make anyone want to ditch their day job. Are you ready to send your resume to HR?
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Executive Creative Director Patrick O'Neill stands in front of the former pharmaceutical manufacturing plant. Paradoxically, the last tenants produced Lady Di teacups and presidential coins.

Obviously, a major renovation went down when these rogues got involved!

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Artist Jim Darling went buck wild on a formerly blank gray canvas at the sweet 5353 Grosvenor suite.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Hillary Coe, Art Director and pixel ninja, Gatorade

What is your favorite ad of all time and why?
"As a kid I had a different opinion, but recently the Levi's Go Forth ad by John Hillcoat takes tops. It spoke to me on such a level that I had him direct my latest Gatorade spot."

What do you love most about this work environment?
"I love the people — the quirky, rebellious, weird, nerdy, eclectic punk-rock group of genius that makes up my colleagues! We are allowed, and are in fact, encouraged to be that way."

What's your funniest, most memorable, or inspiring TBWA/Chiat/Day story?
"My first year at Chiat, I had my latest work on the wall, and was immersed in something on my computer. I glanced up to see Lee Clow [founder] looking at it. I had never met the man, the legend. And there he was, staring at my insides. 'Nice work,' he said. I responded in an octave reserved for airplane tarmacs, and a crackle meant for pre-pubescents. 'Uuh…okay THAAAANKS!' I believe I have since redeemed myself."

What inspires you?
"Love, silence, rhythm, pattern, energy, strength, power, whisky, and adrenaline."

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Bikes, scooters, and roller skaters jet past "Central Park," where crickets chirp at all hours (no one seems to know if they're legit or faux), to mimic the great outdoors. Emerging artists' works are ever-changing and always on display, inspiring the staff at all hours of the day.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Ralph Lee, Assistant Account Executive, Gatorade

What is your favorite ad of all time, and why?
"My pick is the 'Like Mike' Gatorade commercial series — not because I work on the Gatorade account, but because MJ was one of the most inspirational figures of my childhood, and his success has transcended generations before and after his own. Who wouldn't be inspired by that?"

What do you love most about this work environment?
"Everyone probably notices this at first glance, but the character of the office is unbeatable. It's not just four walls and a door or two, it's a city within a building that has so many different working beings pacing about throughout the day. When I come to work, I feel alive. That's awesome!"

What's your funniest, most memorable, or inspiring Chiat Day story?
"Once, a teammate and I worked for 23 hours straight. I mean, literally, 8 a.m. to 7 a.m. the next day — nuts. To top it off, I came back to work at noon that day for a meeting that I was not even a part of, ha! I love every minute of it. FYI, I was not forced to do this."

What inspires you?
"It's pretty simple: I have a nephew and younger cousins that I want to have the most well-rounded life that I can afford to give them. Hopefully my future success, travels, and knowledge can provide that."

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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TBWA London gifted its Playa Vista partners with the authentic Londontown telephone booth.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Nick Drake, Global Group Managing Director

Gracing the ad agency with its retro presence for almost 20 years, the Nissan (née Datsun) surf wagon doesn’t run, but serves as distinguishable décor.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Lee Clow, Founder

Dubbed the "Art Director guru" of this century, Lee Clow helms the method and the madness of this provocative powerhouse. With coffee table tomes and ad bibles written about his unconventional methods, the Cali native is a god among ad men. And, his crew can thank his flip-flops-in-board-meetings attitude for the "every day is cool yet casual Friday" office attire.

P.S. this guy is so hip that even his facial hair has its own twitter account, @LeeClowsBeard, which actually has great insights like "When you’re busy doing your best, there’s no time to fear the worst."

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Helena Skonieczny, Art Director, Pepsi, Nissan, Gatorade, Pur, Pacfic Standard Time

What is your favorite ad of all time, and why?
"1984. It still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. Timeless."

What do you love most about this work environment?
"It's an inside-out work environment. Between the park, aquarium, and basketball court, you feel like you're taking an outdoor stroll, so it makes pulling all-nighters not so bad."

What's your funniest, most memorable, or inspiring Chiat Day story? "Presenting for the first time to Lee Clow was unforgettable. He's such an icon, and now mentor, so it was an experience to have him share his insight with me. He's such a brilliant man."

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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A keggerator at the surf board bar serves as mission control for all agency festivities (and they always find reasons to celebrate).

Although kale and other earthy delights are served for lunch, sloppy joe's and tater tots rank #1 with the hired guns. Each week a staffer is allowed to plan their own menu, and play Top Chef for all employees for a day.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Jayanta Jenkins, Global Creative Director, Gatorade and Pacific Standard Time

What is your favorite ad of all time and why?
"The Crazy Ones" for Apple. That spot gives me the chills every time I see it."

What do you love most about this work environment?
"The open floor plan allows the energy to really move around, which I think is important for a creative work space."

What's your funniest, most memorable, or inspiring TBWA/Chiat/Day story?
"Coming in for my first interview, and the receptionist playing a Prince song for me upon my entrance. Love."

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Chiat asked architect Clive Wilkinson to design ergonomic desks, ensuring every team member is comfy from 9 to 5 and beyond.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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All office dwellers have free reign over their desk and wall spaces, and if we could include everyone's, you'd be gasping for air at the right-brainy bonanza.

Here, a cardboard moose protects one creative's alcove.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Joseph Haldeman, Broadcast Assistant; Dolly the Hound; and Dolly's owner, Peter Williams, Project Manager

Dolly the dog enjoys many daily perks like a 125-square-foot dog run, oh, and regularly strutting her canine stuff for brands like Pedigree. Just another day at the office, indeed!

Dog-owning employees must sign a strict contract barring against their pups' bad behavior. If the pooch disobeys, she or he can be expelled for two years!

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Guia Iacomin, Executive Producer, Visa, PUR, Pacific Standard TIme

What is your favorite ad of all time and why?
"VW Polo 'Feeling Small' has to be one of my favorites. Jonathan Glazer directed it, and anything he does steals my heart. Playstation, Levi's Flying — I simply can't name just one favorite!"

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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A brainstorming station on "Main Street" of the mock metropolis.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Here's a mantra to live by: "It’s more fun being the pirates than the Navy.” This phrase is why skull insignias are emblazoned on anything brand-able in the joint.

Fun fact: Apparently the hoops are short of regular height — Shaq was in the office once for a meeting, and realized it at a very quick glance!

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Brad Nolde, Account Executive, Gatorade

What is your favorite ad of all time?
"Burger King, Chicken Fries."

What do you love most about this work environment?
"It's a great agency with a lot of tradition, insanely talented people, and endless opportunities. Every day we're able to start from scratch, and our job is to simply be innovative in everything we do. I think our ability as an agency to form amazing relationships between brands and their customers is one of our strengths."

What's your funniest, most memorable, or inspiring Chiat Day story?
"Every year, the agency puts together a fantasy football league that only a few of the most daring individuals are able to partake in. Whomever is in last place at the end of the season is subject to dancing in front of the entire firm on the basketball court to a previously agreed upon theme. Check out this link to see one of our team members dancing to a ballerina-themed event with his dog."

What inspires you?
"Not being comfortable. Forcing yourself to adapt to unusual situations outside of your comfort zone. Constriction to force yourself to create is the best inspiration that leads to some of the most creative work."

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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The second floor "Cliff Dwellings" are where the creative teams conjure up their ad black magic.

There are purposely no doors around the entire campus, to create openness and force minds that wouldn't otherwise, to collide.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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(From left to right): Mindy Benner, Eric Ortega, Jen Kutchey, and Taka Hosoda

What do you love most about your work environment and why?
Jenn Kutchey: "I get to ride a scooter around the office."

What's your funniest, most memorable, or inspiring Chiat Day story?
"All night boy band dance parties for sure!"

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Carisa Bianchi, President

How gorgeous is the leader of this pack? We must say our hearts swelled to see so many females rocking it at the top.

Carisa is carrying the sledgehammer from the original 1984 Apple ad (look closely at the poster to her right).

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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How much do you want to bet that this desk belongs to someone on the creative side of the fence?

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Kristen McCoy, Executive Assistant to Lee Clow

What do you love most about this work environment?
"I have three Australian shepherds, and they all get to come to work with me every day. Having the dogs around is good stress relief for everyone; some people who visit my dogs know their names, but not mine. Ha!"

What's your funniest, most memorable, or inspiring Chiat Day story?
"When I first started working for Lee 15 years ago, he hadn't really warmed up to me yet, so to move things along I brought my new puppy Sadie into the office to meet him (he’s obviously a big dog guy). The first thing she did was run into his office, and pee on the newspaper that was laying at his feet. I was mortified, but he just looked at Sadie and said, 'That’s okay, I’ve already read that section.' Then he smiled at me – from that day on, it’s been great."

What account(s) do you work on?
"I’ve been the PA to Lee Clow for 15 years, and a couple of years ago he gave me the new title of 'cultural attaché.' How cool is that?"

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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The mobile aquarium is one of CA's largest saltwater tanks (1,000 gallons), and behind it sits the boardroom, which is made entirely out of shipping containers.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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John Radaza, Project Manager, Gatorade & PUR Water; Rasheed Wallace the dog

What is your favorite ad of all time?
"Ray Allen's Gangstarr Air Jordan commercial."

What's your funniest, most memorable, or inspiring Chiat Day story?
"My first job interview. I walked into the building, and knew I had to be here. No more minor leagues, I had to be in the Majors."



Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Senior Copywriter Alexander Goulart and Senior Art Director Joao Medeiros take a quick break from the mayhem of what is sometimes called Chiat "Night" and Day.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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In case you hadn't noticed, cheekiness and chaos reign supreme at the Chiat HQ.

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Noreen Masih, Project Manager

What do you love most about your work environment?
"Infinite creativity — whether it be in individual style, artwork, structure, the interior of the office itself, or of course all of the happy pups!"

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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Nicole Bray, Global Account Director, Visa: Global Sponsorships & US General Consumer

What is your favorite ad of all time and why?
"The Gap TVCs from the early 2000s (Sarah Jessica Parker 'I love being a girl,' and 'Khaki-a-go-go,'); they were so positive, fun, fresh, and iconic! The spots transcended culture, age, gender, and fashion niche."

What do you love most about this work environment?
"THE CHAOS. All the random shit that happens: Dog fights, blaring music, creatives on megaphones, random cars driving through the office, and basketball games make the environment visceral and fun."

What's your funniest, most memorable, or inspiring Chiat Day story?
"The day I met Steve Jobs, while working on Apple in 2005."

What inspires you?
"Refinery 29! But mainly, meeting new people...hearing their life stories, seeing their clothes, discovering their taste in music — everything that makes us different and yet the same."

Photographed by Scott Nathan
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The agency was built for 560 people, but now shelters over 700. It keeps growing, and growing, and growing, and growing...(Ha. Get it?)

Photographed by Scott Nathan