Mattel Design Center

Created: 11/09/12
Last Edited: 11/14/13
Mattel Design Center
El Segundo, CA
200,000 SF

This international toy manufacturer commissioned the firm to redevelop their design center - an integrated design facility for all of the Mattel brands including the flagship Barbie, Matchbox and Hot Wheels products. The Design Center includes workspace for 735 designers, artists, model makers, project managers, and other craftsman and includes generous workspaces, collaborative meeting and work areas, a full model shop, presentation theatres, and a full service cafeteria.

Housed in a non-descript former aircraft manufacturing facility, the Design Center is a loft like facility with an open truss roof and clear 25-30’ high ceilings, but primarily on a single floor. Occupied by the Design Center for over 20 years, the space was closed in and unorganized. Furnishings were corporate in nature and did not support the realities of the design process. Working with a limited budget and with the mandate that the Design Center must remain in use while undergoing renovation, the project team developed a phasing plan that focused design energy into a few limited areas but assured that all spaces in the Center were renovated.

With the large floor plate, floor plan and organization were seen as key to the project. After an extensive program study, the team was able to identify an underlying structure that would allow for tailoring functions to each groups’ needs, but that allowed for flexibility to relocate groups in the future to accommodate growth and change. The plan is organized around a hierarchy of circulation based on the urban planning approach of major streets, neighborhoods, and conveniently located services.

Design imagery was developed out of the materials the Design Center incorporates into their toys: a limited palette of bright colors used as a highlight to the studio quality space, large scale graphic imagery, and the textures and patterns used in classic Barbie fashion. As an homage to the boys’ side of the equation and to serve as inspiration to the designers, the firms collection of full size classic cars (Hot Wheels development tools) can be displayed on a ramp that doubles as handicap access to the large presentation theatre.

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