At DCI, we are big fans of Mid Century Modern (MCM) design. Recently, in partnership with UCLA, we had an exciting opportunity to develop a new furniture product line based on classic MCM design principles.
In early 2020, UCLA Housing, in a joint venture with UCLA Medical, purchased a new contemporary apartment building on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles.
Acquired for UCLA Medical’s hospital staff—medical residents, fellows, and interns—the building featured mid-century architectural motifs.
The UC Vice Chancellor had an affinity for mid-century modern style and wanted to furnish the apartments with high end MCM residential furniture.
Blending Style & Durability
Soon after purchasing the new apartment building, UCLA’s interior design team reached out to DCI. They provided us with inspiration pieces based on MCM design. Those samples were high-end residential pieces and not fit for a high-traffic institutional context.
Which is to say, they were beautiful, but they weren’t created with extreme durability and longevity in mind.
Our task was to engineer a solution that balanced the style of mid century utilitarian elegance with durability. To that end, we entered into an iterative design process with UCLA’s interior design team to find that perfect middle place.
As a contract furniture manufacturer, we specialize in customizing our products to client specifications.
So we took UCLA’s inspirational images to our engineering department and developed new designs suitable for an institutional context.
We then entered into a creative process which included creating samples and soliciting design input, until we finally landed on a final collection.
Rather than using a cherry stain on one of our typical wood selections (ash, oak, maple), we chose to differentiate this collection with solid cherry wood. Solid cherry enhanced the look and feel of the furniture. The natural color of the wood is a cornerstone of the style and beauty of the furniture.
The decision to go with solid cherry also improved the overall durability of the product line. Because there is no stain to scratch. In contrast, most institutional cherry furniture is not truly cherry, rather it’s stained a cherry color.
Navigating Pandemic Uncertainty
Like so many companies right now, DCI is operating in the midst of the uncertainty and upheaval catalyzed by the pandemic.
Supply chains all over the world are compromised. Shipping and freight is unreliable and impacts our delivery promise.
UCLA reached out to us in late January. In April we signed a contract for a June 28th completion date. That gave us 45 days to source, manufacture, deliver, and install the furniture.
That is an accelerated schedule under the most stable and favorable circumstance. In the pandemic context, it was a race fraught with perilous pitfalls.
First, we were not sure if UCLA’s timeframes were going to stay consistent. That impacted our ability to plan ahead. At the last minute, we learned that the timeline held. So we designed, custom engineered, manufactured, shipped, and installed within 45 days.
There was another variable. The order included fully upholstered furniture which we had never made for UCLA before.
We think the pictures speak for themselves.
Project Location: Los Angeles, CA
Project Size: 122 bedroom sets
Building Type: Medical Staff/Student Apartments
Project Team: UCLA Housing, DCI
Product List: Bed, Desk, Nightstand, Dining Table & Chairs, Sofa, Lounge Chair, Coffee Table, Side Table, Media Console
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