At the end of a steep driveway, perched above the shops and restaurants of Silver Lake’s Hyperion Avenue, author Janelle Brown stands at the entrance of a cantilevered Midcentury Modern building, its glass walls cross-hatched with metal sash windows like a translucent Rubik’s cube. It’s the kind of tucked away, casually stunning piece of L.A. architecture that looks art-directed, like the set of a Tom Ford film, and not, perhaps, where one might expect an ad-hoc collective of freelance writers to have taken root. Yet here, alongside the bamboo growing in a central courtyard, is Suite 8, a unique co-working space shared by novelists, essayists, screenwriters and more, of which Brown is a founding member.
She is joined by two other founders, Erica Rothschild, who is quite tall, her hair pulled back into a no-nonsense ponytail, and Carina Chocano, shorter, who wears hers thick and loose and wavy. The longtime friends can barely suppress their amusement at witnessing one another lead me on an informal tour. Designed by Arthur Wolfe, a student of Richard Neutra, in 1955, the building originally served as his personal office, although today a number of businesses — including a film trailer agency called Big Science, and BRKLY, a too-cool-for-vowels branded content and design firm. Suite 8 is in the northeastern corner, an L-shaped office divided into modest, shared rooms. “It’s not a glamorous space,” Annabelle Gurwitch, the actress whose collection of personal essays, “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Stories About My Family You Might Relate To,” comes out in April, chimes in from a corner desk, and a couple of other women working in the so-called bullpen chuckle.
“We always have broken lights hanging from the ceiling,” Brown says with a laugh, pointing to a dangling entanglement of electrical cords just above her head. She has a broad, warm smile; her clothes are sharp. Behind the building’s imposingly chic facade, the Suite 8 offices appear functional and somewhat familiar: “Star Wars” figurines and miscellaneous stacks of paper — hallmarks of cubicle life everywhere.
There are better known co-working spaces in for “creatives” in Los Angeles — the Unique Space, Soho House — and even some devoted solely to writers, such as the Hatchery, but Suite 8 is tightly knit.
Seated at their desks or leaning against tables beneath the building’s large windows, they looked professional but laid back, more jeans and a jacket than the writers’ typical work-at-home uniform — sweats. The writers in the bullpen spoke quickly, finishing one another’s sentences like family. Laptops open, they assured me it was usually a quiet place to work. It was a little intimidating, like walking up to a clique — no matter how friendly — in a high school cafeteria. This space is “more like a shared apartment,” offered Chocano, whose forthcoming book is “You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages.” Rothschild, quick on her feet, countered, “It’s a village.”
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