Laguna’s locals and visitors soon will have a unique way to discover and interact with all that the dynamic city has to offer. Firebrand Media Inc., which publishes Laguna Beach Magazine, has announced One Laguna, an arts, technology and commerce hub in the works downtown at 225 Forest Ave. The city’s planning commission approved a one-year temporary permit in early August for the project proposed by Allan Simon, chairman of Firebrand Media Inc.
“In a sense, it’s a full-service facility for visitors who haven’t set their complete itinerary day by day as well as a place for locals to enjoy and interact,” Allan says. “We’re doing this on our own initiative, and we think we’re doing something good for Laguna Beach and the Laguna College of Art & Design, which … [occupies] the ground floor. We hope that we become a very popular place.”
Marc Ostrick, an interactive and digital media specialist working on the project, adds, “We’re creating a welcome center of the future. It’s going to be a fun space to discover, play and save [with discount offers].”
In addition to its mission of helping visitors uncover their points of interest, the space is being used as an art gallery for the Laguna College of Art & Design (LCAD). LCAD President Jonathan Burke says the new space will more than double the college gallery’s size and he believes it will draw five times the number of visitors as the campus site did.
“We’ve had a college gallery since the inception of the college; this has been 51 years,” Jonathan says, noting its world-class exhibitions, such as a 2011 show of Auguste Rodin’s work. “The problem is we are in the canyon. It’s not convenient for people to stop, pull in and visit the gallery.”
Opened in time for First Thursdays Art Walk in October, LCAD on Forest Avenue features professional artists’ work in animation, design and digital media, drawing and painting, game art, illustration and sculpture. A small space features student work correlating with the professional pieces.
Upstairs, a multimedia center is slated to open in several months. Details of the project are still in development, but high-definition touch-screens will offer interactive experiences that guide visitors to shops, restaurants, galleries, beaches and other points of interest throughout the city.
Information also can be sent from on-site screens onto visitors’ mobile devices. Live social streams and feeds around Laguna aim to pull the community together under one roof. “Virtual postcards” will also be created through Web-enabled cameras, and interactive art and imagery celebrating the city will also be featured throughout One Laguna. —S.S.
Project Runway: Laguna Style
A single-day event among the Festival of Arts festivities, the Festival Runway Fashion Show highlights Orange County’s award-winning and most talented artists in this popular design challenge: creating an outfit using at least 80 percent reclaimed or recycled materials. Artists were offered $1,000 cash prizes for four different categories: Most Creative Concept, Most Exciting Ensemble, Most Innovative Use of Materials and Most Glamorous & Elegant. Arbonne, the premium Swiss skin care brand, sponsored this year’s fifth annual event. “This fashion show emphasizes inventiveness and creativity in the name of the environment in the most fun way,” says Arbonne Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer Michael D’Arminio of the event, which was hosted by Christos Garkinos from Bravo’s “Dukes of Melrose.” (foapom.com) —J.C.