18.11.2020People and Stories

Arshia Architects win 2020 Calibre Design Award – mafi in conversation with award winner Arshia Mahmoodi


- The Gallery 19C in Beverly Hills became a work of art itself with mafi natural wood floors from Austria

- Interview with architect Arshia Mahmoodi from Arshia Architects about the multiple
award-winning design project

- Biophilic design: healthy natural wood floors in public spaces

- Arshia Architects are different: new ways of thinking for new architecture

Reading time: approx. 3 min


"Our architecture firm is dedicated to the exploration and discovery of new ways of thinking about space and exclusively creates unique solutions."

Arshia Architects, winner of the prestigious 2020 Calibre Design Award and the Will Ching Design Competition


The Gallery 19C project in Beverly Hills was awarded this year's Calibre Design Award in the public buildings category, having been selected by an expert jury consisting of respected interior designers and architects from all over the world.

When paintings on the walls and gray hardwood floors together to create a Gesamtkunstwerk.

Los Angeles-based Arshia Architects has received two awards for its extraordinary Gallery 19C design project. An international jury made up of respected interior designers and architects from all over the world honored the team of architects with the coveted Will Ching Design Prize and the prestigious Calibre Design Award for 2020.

With their tailor-made room design, Arshia Architects has succeeded in turning Gallery 19C, an art gallery that specializes in 19th century art, into a place for special encounters. The wide range of art styles from a multi-faceted era in art history meets modern architectural design that is completely new, even avant-garde. And it works.

Gray tones in different nuances for the walls, floors and interiors function as a contemporary yet elegant backdrop for the gold-framed, colorful art, skillfully making each piece stand out and catch the eye.
The completely clean, graphite-gray oak floor, with its equally artistic laying pattern, creates a successful connection to the paintings on display and also functions as a contrasting element.

The award-winning design concept by Arshia Architects brought together two worlds that couldn't be more different, but aren't left to compete with one another here.

In conversation with Arshia Mahmoodi: Exciting insights into the world of a creative

Mr. Mahmoodi, please tell us about the briefing you received from your client for the Gallery 19C project.

For a virtual gallery that is mainly operated online, but also at art fairs, the client wanted to create a physical presence. The client wanted the space to present the art in a unique way. At the same time, the room had to function as a flexible event location for lecture series, auctions, exhibition openings, etc. The client also needed various storage spaces to pack and store the works of art.

What was the biggest challenge in this project and how did you solve it?

The biggest challenge was following the Beverly Hills city building regulations as well as the rules of the high-rise building where the gallery is located. These presented logistical and functional challenges that had an impact on the project timeframe and budget.

It is obvious that you followed a specific idea when choosing the interior and the colors. Could you please explain the concept to us in more detail?

Yes, sticking to a light gray tone was at the client's request and it led to a very favorable result. We tried to adapt the material choices to this color scheme, for example, by using naturally oiled floors from mafi.

You chose a mafi natural wood floor for this project: how did this come about?

We have had a wide variety of mafi floor samples in our studio since 2006. And it has always been a pleasure for us to use mafi natural wood floors for our projects. The floor samples show the exquisite and fine quality of the product. They look almost edible, and that appeals to our senses. In addition, we knew that there was a 100-year history of Austrian manufacturing and innovation behind the product.

The laying pattern was made especially for your project. Why did you choose this pattern?

We chose this pattern as an homage to the floors seen in European palaces, which, like the art gallery, is based on 19th century European art.

The overall design is the sum of many small details: what role does the floor, or, more precisely, the natural wood floor, play in this?

The concept for the gallery was to create a high-end modern space that would allow the artwork on display to stand out like jewels. This has been achieved in a number of ways, both through lighting and architecture. In order to avoid a clash between the artwork and the space, we modernized some classic elements and integrated them into the design. One of these was the wall covering which frames the artwork. The other important element in this strategy was the choice of the flooring itself. We chose a classic pattern and used a modern flooring material in a modern manufacturing method to give a familiar theme a new look.

Healthy natural wood floors in public spaces


In addition to the subtle and at the same time modern color of the artfully laid oak floors, the gallery also benefits from an extremely hard-wearing surface that can easily withstand frequent traffic with street shoes or high heels.

Wood breathes and mafi lets the wood continue to breathe by finishing it with oil.
Thus, the large area of the natural wood floor acts as an air conditioner and air filter for the art gallery.
Even food smells after openings or other celebrations are successfully eliminated by the untreated, ecologically produced flooring. The deliberately preserved oven pores of the wood enable the floor to absorb moisture in the room and release it back into the room. The visitors can therefore enjoy a positive and noticeably pleasant room climate.

All it takes is a regular wiping with warm water and mafi wood soap to clean the floor from dirt and nourish it with the high-quality fats in the soap. Over the years, a hard-wearing surface and beautiful patina builds up, making it possible, like mafi says, to "walk on art."

Arshia Architects are different: new ways of thinking for new architecture

Arshia Architects, based in Los Angeles, was founded in 2006. The extremely successful architecture and design studio stands for new ways of thinking and creative solution concepts beyond mainstream architecture. The uniqueness of their room concepts has already been recognized with recognitions and awards from the American Institute of Architects, the Los Angeles Architecture Award, the International Interior Design Association, and the Japan Architect Award.

"Our architectural practice is dedicated to the exploration and discovery of 'extreme' conditions in various notions of space. With mafi we achieve our goal of creating special room concepts,” Arshia Mahmoddi, Arshia Architects says.

With this unique creative concept for Gallery 19C, the architects succeeded in creating an environment that sets the exhibited works of art in the best possible light and yet makes its own statement, too.
The concept for the art gallery also won over the jury of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and the design idea was honored with this year's Calibre Design Award.

Order a sample now: