×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Production Designer Gary Kordan Moonlights as Venue Impresario With Wife Justine Ungaro

From his Emmy nominated work on “Key and Peele” to the fantastical worlds of Amazon’s young adult hit “Just Add Magic”, production designer Gary Kordan gets behind projects 100%. Before he lands a job, he’ll spend days researching content, often crafting up to sixteen mood boards loaded with images for first meeting discussions. To land the pilot of the current Fox comedy “Ghosted”, Kordan fabricated a back story for the show’s secret government office, pulling images of the NASA’s graphic style, early ’60s Craftsman furniture, wood grain samples and old doctor’s offices and newsrooms he compiled to explore his concept of an outdated, under-funded facility.

“It was a risk; they may have seen the world in a Technicolor palette,” said Kordan. “But my gut told me they’d be familiar with my look when they called me in.”

“I used to imagine one day owning a club like Catch a Rising Star.”
Gary Kordan

A year ago, Kordan brought his fastidious dedication and penchant for risk-taking to an entirely new project. Partnering with his wife, photographer Justine Ungaro, they established a multi-purpose creative space in Studio City. The idea surfaced when Ungaro considered expanding her photography studio, located across from CBS Studio, into a storefront that had vacated next door. She pitched the idea to Kordan and the groundwork was laid for what would gradually evolve into a brand new business. They snatched up the 800 square foot space before another retailer could wrangle it. Together they embarked on finessing the vibe of their new venture: a community space for creatives called Muse.

Inspired by the location of their earliest artistic development: a middle school art classroom, Ungaro designed and oversaw renovations to create a loft space with a Scandinavian and mid-century aesthetic. Dark wood beams accent muted pastels, and vintage equipment, including a pink refrigerator and Ungaro’s collection of vintage radios, dot the bright, open space. The simple furniture is easily re-arranged to accommodate the needs of any event. Past activities have ranged from classes including “The Art of Paper Flowers” and “Weaving for Beginners” to pop up shop for emerging clothing designers, including Project Runway contestant Melissa Fies. A music and performance enthusiast, Kordan also installed a sound system, enabling the space to be converted into a concert venue. Musicians ranging from acoustic singer Lisa Loeb to alt-rockers Letters to Cleo have presented sold-out events at Muse. Most recently, Muse housed benefit events aiding the Hurricane victims in Texas and Puerto Rico.

As the word grew about the multi-use space, so did demand. Within the course of the year, Muse was regularly booked with a mix of private and public events. Although overseeing the needs of a growing business adds extra pressure on the couples very full agenda, they’ve embraced the extra workload. For Kordan, Muse not only instills an excitement into his routine and provides challenges that constantly stimulate him, but providing a shareable space for his community fuels him with an adrenaline he equates to jumping out of a plane. It also fulfills one of his earliest childhood fantasies.

“I used to imagine one day owning a record store or a club like Catch a Rising Star,” said Kordan. “We have a stage, a mike, and we’re booking events. It’s a dream come true.”

More Artisans

  • Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER..L to R:

    Ryan Coogler on How 'Black Panther' Broke Barriers Below-the-Line, Too

    With more than $1.3 billion at the global box office, “Black Panther” was one of the year’s biggest hits. Though some people expected just another superhero film, the project turned out to be much deeper and more complex than that. Many called it a social turning point because it was the first blockbuster with a [...]

  • Payroll Specialist Cast & Crew Sold

    Payroll Specialist Cast & Crew Sold to Investment Fund EQT VIII

    Payroll specialist Cast & Crew Entertainment Services has been sold by Silver Lake to the investment Fund EQT VIII for an undisclosed price. Cast & Crew, based in Burbank, Calif., and founded in 1976, touts itself as the premier provider of technology-enabled payroll and production-management services to the entertainment industry. Services include payroll processing, residuals [...]

  • Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard

    New 'Star Trek' Series to Shoot in California, Selected for Tax Credit

    CBS’s new “Star Trek” series, with Patrick Stewart reprising the role of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, will shoot in California and receive a $15.6 million production tax credit. The California Film Commission announced Monday that the untitled “Star Trek” series and eight other TV series have been selected for the latest tax credit allocations totaling $90 [...]

  • Alfonso Cuarón, Emmanuel Lubezki Discuss the

    Alfonso Cuarón Details 'Roma' Cinematography With 'Gravity' DP Emmanuel Lubezki

    As part of an overall push to bring Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” to awards season voters, Netflix’s “‘Roma’ Experience'” played host to guild and Academy members Sunday in Hollywood. The all-day event featured panels focused on the film’s crafts and an audio-visual installation akin to the streamer’s FYSee initiative for Emmy contenders, featuring costumes and art [...]

  • 12 08 _148.NEF

    Mississippi Beckons Producers With Southern Charm, High Incentives

    Mississippi may not be the first state that comes jumps into the mind of a producer considering locations for an upcoming shoot, but the state has a lot going for it, including a picturesque Southern ambience, antebellum homes, rich farmlands, pine forests, Gulf coast sands and casinos – not to mention significant rebates on qualified [...]

  • Charles Saldana Clint Eastwood Key Grip

    Key Grip Charlie Saldana Recalls His Long Career With Film/TV Greats

    Interviewing Charlie Saldana in the quiet of his North Hollywood home, the 79-year-old working key grip still exudes the cool confidence of someone who’s spent a lifetime in partnership with one of Hollywood’s great directors: Clint Eastwood. Saldana still possesses an actor’s looks, with a salt-white mustache and a full silver mane. He began his [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content