Office Porn: Take Our Exclusive Tour Of Playboy's Posh BH HQ!

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on December 5.]
We'll openly admit that we never opened an issue of Playboy until its most recent Marilyn Monroe cover hit stands. And, even though we're not exactly the mag's demo, we spent hours poring over it (the articles only, people!). Turns out, we kinda get those "academic content" excuses men are always throwing around — there's enough intriguing conversation fodder inside to get us through the rest of the holiday season.
But, whether you embrace the glossy or still find it objectifying and raunchy, there's no denying the mega rebrand going on at its fresh Beverly Hills global HQ. Long gone are the days of tacky reality TV stars and grotto gauche. After going private last year, the company is heralding its more high-brow roots. And we found the three-story bunny bureau to symbolically reflect the "modern heritage" revamp, housing Eames chairs from Hef's old Windy City offices and iconic Warhols from back in the day, all set against cozy Restoration Hardware couches and contemporary lacquered credenzas. Flip through our swanky tour, and you may just be tempted to sign up for your own subscription!
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The 44,780-square-foot alluring office space is the brainchild of execs Landis Smithers and Kristin Patrick (both of whom you'll meet later), and architecture firm Wolcott Architecture | Interiors. They put posh pieces together in a mere four months, including relocating statewide staffers to L.A. and recruiting fresh local talent.
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Caitlin Bower, Marketing Director, and Landis Smithers, Creative Director

What does your role mean to the daily operations of PB?
Bower: "As a member of the marketing department, we are hyper-focused on making Playboy relevant for a new generation of consumers and all of our daily activities are aimed at that end goal. Playboy is an iconic American brand that influenced the evolution of American contemporary culture. Preserving and moving that legacy forward is an extremely challenging undertaking, but one that's so exciting!"
Smithers: "I make sure that every product, ad, sub-brand system, store, or piece of furniture in the headquarters inspires our existing fans and attracts new audiences to want to engage with Playboy."

How long have you had your gig, and how did you score it?
Bower: "My boss, Kristin Patrick, the CMO, and I used to work together on Chanel, Polaroid, and Starbucks at the talent and literary agency WME Entertainment. I had left WME to work on new business opportunities at Radical Media and she went on to be the CMO of Playboy shortly after I departed WME. While I was at Radical, she showed me the re-branding work and new vision for Playboy and I was instantly smitten."
Smithers: "I joined the brand eleven months ago. Previously I was directing television commercials for hair and retail clients. I was the creative director of Old Navy. And I worked for years in advertising, on beer, beauty, and retail clients. I never thought I’d be here. I’m having a ball!"

What's your favorite aspect of the Civic Center space?
Bower: "Our bar, of course! It's my favorite place to have a late afternoon or early evening business meeting ... with cocktails, naturally."
Smithers: "The Borg Morgensen sofa in the lobby. The leather on it smells like the good life."

Give us the scoop on something you don't think anyone knows about the company, its history, or vibe.
Bower: "I think that people forget what an intellectual brand Playboy is — it's never been just about sex. We've always collaborated with the most iconic artists, writers, and thinkers in the world."
Smithers: "The mansion is the only residential property in Los Angeles that is also a fully licensed zoo. It has nothing to do with the parties there, and everything to do with the peacocks, monkeys, and parrots!"

Tell us your most memorable/funny/exciting experience at PB thus far.
Smithers: "Every time I go out with the Playmates, I can see every straight man in the room trying to figure out what I’m doing right that they aren’t. I don’t tell them. I don’t want to destroy their illusions."

What article do you feel has held the most weight in the company's lengthy history?
Smithers: "In 1955, Hugh Hefner published the Charles Beaumont story “The Crooked Man” in Playboy. It was a tale of a world where heterosexuals were hunted down by the predominant culture of gay and lesbians. It was groundbreaking for the period, and showed one of the many ways Hefner provoked discussion about human rights before it was easy, or the accepted norm. He took an immense risk doing this, and like so many of his groundbreaking actions, it gave him no pause."

On Bower: Alexander Wang Dress, All Saints Boots, NARS "Vesuvio" Lipstick; On Smithers: Prada Blazer, PRPS Jeans, Custom YSL Crocodile Johny Boots, Panerai Luminor Marina Watch, Hermès Bracelet
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If you're lucky enough to get an invite, every Thursday eve this space is filled with boisterous activities, all centered around the brightly lit bar (and a cache of top-tier booze). Their neighbors at UTA always make cameos along with Bunnies bopping around! As for the focal point, the bar took three whole months to get just right — can you blame them for being so particular?
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From left, Irina Voronina, Playmate Miss January 2001; Summer Altice, Playmate Miss August 2000; Hiromi Oshima, Playmate Miss June 2004; Kimberly Phillips, Playmate Miss September 2009

How were you discovered by PB?
Voronina: "I was in L.A. for a modeling job when a photographer I shot with took me to Playboy's Studios. I had to extend my trip because I was immediately scheduled for a Playmate test!"
Altice: "A fellow Playmate, Brande Roderick, suggested me to Hef."
Oshima: "My friend in Florida introduced me to a Playboy photographer."
Phillips: "My best friend submitted photos of me through the mail and Stephanie from the studio called two days later!"

What's your number one posing tip?
Altice: "Keep your chin down!"
Phillips: "Tuck that tummy! And, of course, try to have fun."

Please spill on your top three beauty secrets.
Voronina: "Get lots of sleep, always take off your makeup before going to bed, and drink lots of water
."
Oshima: "Sleep, be happy, and take lots of vitamins."
Altice: "Use vaseline with cocoa butter, eat lots of ginger, and take vitamins."
Phillips: "Stay hydrated and try to give your face regular breaks from makeup — let those pores breathe!"

What about your diet and exercise routine, any advice you'd care to share?
Voronina: "I'm addicted to green juices. I make a blend of dandelion, upland cress or kale, with apple and lemon every morning!
 I crave my greens! I'm not an exercise freak, but I like my bootcamp classes, yoga, and hiking."
Altice: "I work out three times per week and follow a diet of lean meats and veggies, but I never deprive myself. I'll always try a bite or two of anything, just not the whole plate!"
Phillips: "I’m not a gym-goer, but I try to stay active by hiking, cycling, and yoga. I’ve felt the healthiest and happiest since I’ve switched to a primarily vegan diet."

What's been your wildest PB moment yet?
Voronina: "On my first autograph signing, when my English wasn't as great, I spelled a guy's name as Duck instead of Duke.
 He and his buddies were laughing their butts off and I was so embarrassed!
"
Oshima: "I went to Rio for Carnival last February and we had to go to LAX in our Bunny costumes. Going through security with all of the attention we got was unforgettable — everything was so funny and crazy."

What's your interaction like with Hef?
Voronina: "He wanted to know everything about Russian politics, my thoughts on Perestroika, and all of the drastic changes in my country that I was able to witness. I've really enjoyed our conversations!"
Oshima: "I couldn't believe how sweet and funny he was in person. He's very charming, tells me jokes, and makes me laugh. I love asking him questions about his life or musician friends and listening to his stories."
Phillips: "Hugs, kisses on the cheek, and random giggles."

If you weren't doing this, where else would you see yourself?
Oshima: "I'm a stylist, as well, and have done wardrobe for a few Playmates and a cover. I'd be in the fashion business for sure."
Altice: "Married with kids, which is up next!"
Phillips: "Before becoming a Playmate, I was a preschool caregiver and reading tutor, so I would probably still be in that field of work."
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The brand's facelift is distinctly marked in this lobby nook. Gorgeous original photography (that's Hef exiting his Jag) plays backdrop to a supple vintage Borg Morgensen couch and ultra-modern accessories. Throughout the location, you'll find approachable masculinity through rough textures, classic gems, and animal skins — basically everything sophisticated you'd want to see in the abode of your latest beau.
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We're not even sure what this trophy Warhol is worth (surely bonkers cash!), but we were told it's highly secure by Thomas Crowne-conjuring bells and whistles behind the canvas. This isn't the only art superstar in the space's ranks, though: There are LeRoy Neiman's galore, Keith Haring's peppered about, and of course, some splashy past spreads, too. And, the visuals vibe seamlessly since the publication has a long history of weaving au courant creators in its midst — Salvador Dali was an art director at one point and even Hemingway wrote for Playboy back in the day.
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Kristin Patrick, CMO

What does your role mean to the daily operations of PB?
"I consider my role here at Playboy to be about re-energizing one of the most iconic brands in the world and carrying forth Hef's legacy to a new generation of consumers."

How long have you had your gig, and how did you score it?
"I've been at Playboy one year. We've been so busy, I don't even notice the time! I was brought on because of my background in fashion, beauty, and entertainment. Plus, I told Scott, our CEO, that he needed to surround himself with strong females. He agreed. He has a great wife and three daughters who are all fabulous in their own right, so he's smart enough to know when to let the women lead."

Tell us what your company means to you.
"Playboy allows us to live free. It stands for freedom — whether it is economic, political, sexual, or first-amendment freedoms."

What's the coolest perk to your gig?
"I love the overall corporate culture of working hard and playing hard. Plus, I love my team — they're smart, creative, and constantly challenging me to be better."

Give us scoop on something you don't think anyone knows about the company, its history, or vibe.
"The brand has always been a curator of great intellectual and creative talent from Ernest Hemingway to Salvador Dali. We hope to continue that tradition."

Chloé Dress
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The company doles out products of all shapes and forms, from inexpensive to high-end level. You can find fragrances at Target, yet they've collaborated with the likes of Marc Jacobs and Dolce & Gabbana. We even heard a whisper of another ooh-inducing partnership you'd never expect.
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Melissa Perez, Events Coordinator

What does your role mean to the daily operations of PB?
"I help coordinate logistics, while prepping for events and on production days."

Apart from the new building, what has changed most for you since the rebrand?
"Everything — the building probably is the very least of it. The overall culture has shifted in various ways."

Who's your favorite cover model of all-time, and why?
"Cindy Crawford by Herb Ritts. It doesnt get more classically beautiful than that!"

In five words or less, tell us what Playboy means to you.
"Iconic, avant-garde, game-changing, revolutionary, different."

What do you love most about working for the brand, and why?
"My mother was a Playboy Bunny in the '80s, so I've always felt connected since I saw an old black-and-white photo of her in the Bunny suit. It's an amazing feeling to work with great people who want to do amazing things for this iconic brand."

Tell us your most memorable/funny/exciting experience at PB thus far.
"I love watching C-level execs strip to their skivvies and jump in the grotto. I tip my hat to the entire mansion staff, who are amazing and wonderful to work with."

Club Monaco Vest, Jeffrey Campbell Shoes, Fleet Necklaces
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The airy game room is where employees can grab a bite, play pinball, pool, or darts — all with Playboy-branded elements, natch.
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Robert Harkness, Assistant Art Director

What does your role mean to the daily operations of PB?
"My daily responsibilities revolve around the layout, artwork, and photography in the magazine. I work with the editors, and commission illustrators and photographers to find the most articulate way to present the content of the magazine."

How long have you had your gig, and how did you score it?
"I started work here seven months ago, two days after I graduated from college (which, for an art student doesn't happen often). During my final semester at USC, I was contacted by the Art Director here who was putting together the team in L.A. as the company transitioned from Chicago. Let's just say I was pretty shocked. I interviewed, got the job, and haven't looked back since."

Who's your favorite cover model of all-time, and why?
"My favorite photo is of Olga Schoberova on the March 1964 issue. That photo is so classic, and photographers today are still shooting in that style."

What article do you feel has held the most weight in the company's lengthy history?
"The Playboy Philosophy is hands down the most influential group of articles in the company's history. It's been modern since 1962. For me personally, I'd say the MLK interview from 1965 is very powerful. It's so much more penetrating than what we read in history books growing up. I draw a lot of parallels between the civil rights movement and the ongoing struggle for equal rights that we find ourselves in today."

In five words or less, tell us what Playboy means to you.
"Bold, insightful, aspirational, sexy, enduring."

What's your favorite aspect of the new Civic Center space?
"'Thirsty Thursdays' at the Playboy Bar."

Give us scoop on something you don't think anyone knows about the company, its history, or vibe.
"Everyone has a strong opinion of Playboy. I know I did, but I've been pleasantly surprised. This company is so much more than a mansion full of beautiful girls, it's a benchmark of American freedom. People my age weren't alive to experience Playboy's activism during the early decades, and I think we tend to take for granted all the freedoms that the brand fought for back then. But, while it is important to know where Playboy has been, today it's a youthful, relevant, and really fun place to work … Really fun."
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Within the massive space, there are seven separate conference rooms, all named with Playboy history in mind. There's "The Marilyn," "The Grotto," and, well, you get the gist. When the aforementioned designers ran out of names, they tapped into old lore for inspiration. Apparently, an urban legend was formed around the stars (the five-pointed entities, not celebs) that graced each cover. The graphic always varied from three to seven stars, and some believed it was a secret rating system of Hef's opinion after having relations of a certain kind with the cover model. Even though a boring truth about distribution was uncovered, the final meeting space was still named The Seven Star Room.
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Chris Hopkins, Division SVP, Brand Partnerships

What does your role mean to the daily operations of PB?
"I aid in driving revenue for our global licensing business."

How long have you had your gig, and how did you score it?
"I've been here a year and a half. I came from the private equity world."

Yves Saint Laurent Blazer, Zenith Watch
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Did you know that there's a bunny hidden somewhere on each cover? Another fun fact: The clubs came after the magazine — and those swanky watering holes will soon be relaunched. First up, a beachfront spot in Goa, India.
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Jimmy Jellinek, Editorial Director and Chief Content Officer

What does your role mean to the daily operations of PB?
"Beyond putting out the magazine and making sure it lives up to not only its legacy, but the demands and influences of the contemporary reader, I help the larger brand connect the dots of what it stands for, by creating a compelling narrative in the magazine and other media platforms. Even one story can be the engine that propels the brand from licensing to location-based entertainment. It's the voice we put out to the rest of the world, and gives the products we create context, meaning, and value."

Apart from the new building, what has changed most for you since the rebrand?
"The magazine has gone through a significant metamorphosis from a design, photography, cover treatment, and content standpoint. There's a greater emphasis on service to the reader, providing them with the tools and know-how to lead the 'good life.' We're constantly trying to reinvent the notion of what it means to be the Playboy Man in 2013, and lead the discussion on the return to classic masculinity that's the dominant paradigm in men's culture. The idea that a male can look good, covet consumer goods, but also be a person of substance, caring about ideas, being charitable, and having a global outlook is essential to his make-up. We're chasing the individual who cares about style, but doesn't necessarily concern himself with fashion. In essence, it's an effortless swagger that's more about confidence than an obsession with labels. It's the idea that smart is sexy, smart is cool, and the magazine reflects that by providing the audience with a long-form experience that's luxurious in tone and feel. In today's 24/7 media culture, where everybody is always on, the two biggest luxuries are time and quiet. The ability to unplug and read, to have an analog experience that isn't being broadcast on Twitter, is something that's a necessity for today’s man. Beyond that, it’s the experiential qualities of the brand that one can't duplicate. No one else has the ability to transport its audience to a fantasy beyond their wildest dreams, from the magazine to our clubs and licensed goods. The Playboy lifestyle exists in the flesh — excuse the pun — and no other brand can really claim that. The publication exists to amplify that idea and give it shape and narrative."

Who's your favorite cover model of all-time, and why?
"I can't pick a favorite because every model represents a time and the moment of zeitgeist that created the need for her to be on the cover in the first place. Our strategy moving forward is to rely less on cover talent since the notion of celebrity in today’s reality-industrial complex has become devalued. As Hef once famously said, 'What used to be a thick porridge, is now a thin soup.' The idea, rather, is to find the world's greatest photographers from Mario Sorrenti to Michael Bernard — both who've shot recent covers — and create brand-defining iconic imagery that will stand out on the newsstand but also be coffee-table worthy, reflecting the values and direction of Playboy as a brand. It's a return to the past, and only in our recent past of our 60-year heritage celebrities have graced the cover. While we'll choose A-list stars and models if the opportunity is right, the emphasis is on the imagery and creating a complete package that is on-brand from cover to cover."

What article do you feel has held the most weight in the company's lengthy history?
"To this day, the magazine continues to push the boundaries of journalism, competing against the likes of The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. This would include our recently published 'Playmate as Fine Art,' where we had today's most important contemporary artists interpret the playmate conceptually. Contributors included Richard Prince, Will Cotton, Cindy Sherman, Wes Lang, Tracey Emin, and Ryan McGuinness. The feature itself will become a temporary exhibit at Art Basel. From a pure journalism standpoint, I'm most proud of our continued coverage of global events, most importantly the so-called 'Arab Spring.' We had people on the ground in Tahir Square, and continue to follow the story as the spring has begun to turn into a confusing fall. Beyond that, we've sneaked reporters into North Korea, and have had a constant presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. At any given moment there's reporting from across the globe on topics from the Mexican drug war to where to get the best cocktails in America."

"This mixture of high and low, hard reporting, and bullet-proof service is the mix that makes us so successful as a journalistic enterprise. The Oscar winning film The Hurt Locker is based on a Playboy feature entitled, 'The Man in the Bomb Proof Suit,' by Mark Boal. Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson, Vladimir Nabokov, John Updike, Norman Mailer, and Saul Bellow have contributed to our legacy. In terms of our heritage, it's impossible to choose. No one has printed what we've printed. Added together, it's the perfect record of the political and cultural history of the 20th and 21st centuries. The Playboy Interview is the gold standard of magazine features. We've had Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro, Jimmy Carter, Ayn Rand, Jean Paul Sartre, Malcom X, John Lennon, Bowie, Dylan, Sinatra, and more recently Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, Richard Dawkins, Quentin Tarrantino, and Frank Gehry. Coming up soon, we'll publish an interview that will blow people's minds in its scope and our ability to find the individual and get him to speak on work."

What's the coolest perk to your gig?
"I get to work with the most talented and creative minds in art and journalism. We succeed on the basis of our talented staff and contributors, and this not only inspires me, but motivates me to create an environment where everybody can produce to the peak of their talents without restriction. The only rule is to be brilliant — beyond that it's a process of controlled chaos, channeling that brilliance into a product every month that inspires and provokes our audience."

What's your favorite aspect of the new Civic Center space?
"The space in its entirety is a testament and living, breathing manifestation of the brand. It's architecturally important, features artwork from our biggest contributors like Andy Warhol, who created covers and inside work for the magazine in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Beyond that, to simply have the company all under one roof creates opportunities for communication and ideation that never existed when the brand was split amongst three different cities."

Tell us your most exciting experience at PB thus far.
"We have a rule that what happens at Playboy, stays at Playboy."

Have you had any interesting interactions with Hef that you'd care to share?
"I work with Hef on a daily basis. As the editor-in-chief of the magazine, he has the final word on everything we publish. It's my job to channel his vision through the pages of the magazine and translate it to our readers — not just in print, but across all of our media platforms. There's nobody who knows more than Hef about the craft of magazine making: what works, what doesn't, and the pacing of the book. He literally created the entire notion of not just a lifestyle magazine, but a lifestyle brand. Just like EF Hutton, 'When he speaks, people listen.'"

John Varvators Pants, Uniqlo Shirt, Venice Original Skateboards Hoodie
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Eames chairs lounge near a sexy contemporary painting in this little nook.
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Hugh Garvey, Articles Editor

What does your role mean to the daily operations of PB?
"I handle lifestyle coverage, which means food, drinks, travel, nightlife, style, and all that other fun stuff."

Apart from the new building, what has changed most for you since the rebrand?
"The magazine's retooled design. It's the best it's been in decades."

In five words or less, tell us what Playboy means to you.
"Freedom."

What do you love most about working for the brand, and why?
"It's amazing to be involved in the production of a legacy magazine that's remained relevant throughout the years, which in this digital age is an incredible luxury."

What's the coolest perk to your gig?
"See above."

Brooks Brothers Black Fleece Blazer, Burberry Prorsum Shirt, APC Jeans, Ralph Lauren Pocket Square
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There are currently 28 international editions of the glossy, each with localized, focused content. The expansive collection spotted atop this hired gun's file cabinet would make any connoisseur giddy!
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Scott Flanders, CEO

Apart from the new building, what has changed most for you since the rebrand?
"Well, the rebrand is an evolutionary process that is more a rejuvenation of an already strong brand — rather than moving from one place, and abandoning that, to a new place that’s entirely different. So, rebrand is a mischaracterization of what we’re doing here, because we’re mostly reconnecting to the legacy of what Hef built when it was in its heyday, and Playboy was the definitive authority on men’s lifestyle. We're attempting to move back to that repositioning for the brand."

What does Playboy mean to you?
"It's an aspirational lifestyle brand that appeals to adult men and women of all ages."

What do you love most about working for the brand, and why?
"I love the opportunity to take an iconic brand that was not performing financially and repositioning it to achieve the financial success that the brand deserves."

Tell us your most memorable experience at PB thus far.
"The most satisfying experience was providing a tour to Hef of the new Beverly Hills office space, since it fulfilled a longtime ambition of Hef’s to consolidate the company into one location in Southern California. He was over the moon. He really liked it — he thought the office conveyed Playboy perfectly."

Give us scoop on something you don't think anyone knows about the company, its history, or vibe.
"I think it’s not widely known that the majority of our consumer products produced by our licensees are purchased by women. It shouldn’t be surprising that we owe all of our financial success to women. Not just because they grace the pages of our magazine, but because it’s women that purchase the majority of our fragrances, apparel, handbags — all of our licensed goods are purchased dominantly by women, not by men. People are always surprised when I share that. The future of the company is about making sure we appeal to women."

Armani Suit, Ermenegildo Zegna Shirt
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The first published photo of Marilyn Monroe fittingly hangs in "The Marilyn" conference room. Hef borrowed $1,000 from his mother (yes, you read that right) to buy the negatives of this series of nudes before her fame had gone haywire. He was working at another mag at the time, heard about her from a distant friend, and decided to dip his foot into the pool of what is now an ocean of gentleman's publications. Sidenote: Mr. Hefner still has flowers delivered to Norma Jean's grave each and every day.
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