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Monday, Jun 5, 2023

Upscale Prop House Decks Itself Out in Sun Valley

Having a seat at Ob-jects Fine Set Decorations could mean relaxing on a sectional covered with silver ultra-suede or pulling up to the dining room table in a polished aluminum chair. And if that couch or chair looks familiar, maybe you saw it on “Modern Family,” “CSI” or some other television series decked out in Ob-ject’s extensive collection of upscale furniture. Now, Tom Bugenhagen and Fred Arens, the company’s principals, are bringing their collection to the San Fernando Valley by relocating to Sun Valley from Culver City. In doing so, they are following the path of other prop houses who have moved in recent years to be closer to studios and production space in Burbank, Glendale and Studio City. “What we are providing is a location near everyone else,” said Arens, the vice president and general manager. Objects signed a 10-year lease to move into a 40,000 square-foot former manufacturing building adjacent to the Burbank Bob Hope Airport. With high ceilings and spacious interior, the structure can hold the hundreds of items the firm has obtained during more than 20 years in business. The move is expected to be completed by mid-October. Ob-jects has 10 employees but has no immediate plans for hiring despite moving into a significantly larger space, Arens said. Amy Feldman, who handled set decoration for the sitcom “Two Broke Girls” filmed on the Warner Bros Studios, said she is a loyal customer and is glad the shop is closer to the Burbank studio lot. “The convenience factor is very high on the scale,” she added. Niche business The studios still maintain their own prop departments that are augmented by the independent vendors. Large prop houses can be generalists offering anything needed by a movie or television set decorator. “A good amount of retail stores will also do rentals of furniture as well,” said Gene Cane, executive director of the Set Decorators Society of America in North Hollywood. Then there are firms like Ob-jects that specialize in just upscale furniture. Competitors include Nest Studio Rentals and Prop Services West, both in North Hollywood, the latter of which recently moved over the hill to the Valley. Elizabeth Keenan rented furniture from Ob-jects for the recently completed surf-and-sand feature film “Ride” starring and directed by Helen Hunt, the live action Disney feature “Alice in Wonderland,” and HBO series “Luck.” “They are constantly adding new items to their collection which is a rarity with most prop houses,” Keenan said of the collection, which includes sofas, ottomans, rugs, chaises, daybeds and armoires. The Ob-jects collection – which ranges from modern to antique – was sourced from traditional vendors as well as flea markets, eBay, and antique auctions, said Arens, who declined to speculate on its exact size. Arens and Bugenhagen, president and creative director, also design their own pieces so they have something special to offer their clients. “We try to come up with original stuff and embellish it with other antiques and high-end items,” Arens said. The company’s rental policies are common to other prop houses. Items are sent out for a week at a time with discounts offered for one-day rentals. Longer term rents of a month include a final week for free. Rental prices vary depending on the value of the item. The company declined to disclose revenue. Arens also declined to give specific pricing but Keenan said the company was flexible with what it charges depending on the length and budget of a project. Tough move The search for a new building actually started two years ago with a goal of finding something in the 30,000 square-foot to 35,000 square-foot range. The Sun Valley building was looked at several months ago and while bigger than what was needed no better option was found. To prepare the building Ob-jects picked up the cost of new windows and doors, and the landlord, Howard Industrial JV, paid for the cleaning up and painting of the building. A new doorway has been cut from one wall as an entrance for customers and two 24-foot diameter fans installed on the ceiling as the substitute for the cool ocean winds that keep the Culver City location at a comfortable temperature. “They are amazing,” Arens said of the fans. “You feel this big breeze come through.”

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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