Leo Marmol Would Rather Design Small, Think Big


We caught restoration whiz and prefab pioneer Leo Marmol at Design Within Reach in Beverly Hills last night as he kicked off the first of a series of talks that will take him to DWRs across the country. Although we were fascinated the firm’s restorations of museum-worthy gems like the Kaufmann House, more intriguing for the mostly design-curious Westsiders in attendance was Marmol Radziner‘s burgeoning prefab company. Almost every prefab slide he put up was greeted with a “What’s the square footage here?” or “How much would this cost?” It was fascinating to watch non-designers window shop for architecture as if they were strolling Rodeo Drive (only two blocks away).

But what we really loved was how quickly Marmol got these folks to recast their visions of the ideal modern home. He’d much rather build tiny houses than McMansions, he said; furniture was even better because it was more “manageable.” He even tries to talk his clients down from their big house fantasies. “If there’s anything I can do to convince them to make their house as small as possible, then I will do it.”

The reasons why are simple, he said: Construction is environmentally devastating, and modern designs are actually way more expensive because you have hire more competent craftsmen–that crown molding in your traditional home is actually just hiding the less-than-exact meeting of wall to ceiling. When he revealed both of these concepts there were audible gasps from the audience.

We’re absolutely sure more than a few in attendance returned to their Persian Palaces last night already dreaming of their next home, no wider than a freeway lane. We have a feeling Marmol’s speaking tour will be a success.