Blog post

Designing the Arena

By Marybeth Bizjak
Photography by Jason Sinn

When Sacramento Kings executives Chris Granger and Matina Kolokotronis hired David Bradford Lee to design the interiors for the new downtown arena, they gave him one clear directive: to make Golden 1 Center unlike any other arena in the country.

Lee was in charge of every bit of design from the nosebleed seats to the ultraluxe owners club, selecting every fabric, tile, paint color, furnishing and light fixture. Kings management wanted the arena to have “a museumlike quality,” he says. “Clean, sleek, modern, sophisticated.”

For the arena’s private lounges and clubs, Lee sourced many of the furnishings from residential rather than commercial vendors. In a bar for suite and loft ticketholders, he used reclaimed-wood dining tables from West Elm, Emeco’s famed Navy Chairs and, from Moooi, a resin cocktail table that resembles a pig balancing a tray on its back—a playful nod to Sacramento’s farm-to-fork culture. In the owners club, Jonathan Adler’s Meurice rectangular brass chandeliers illuminate chairs from Bolier and tables by Baker.

Perhaps the most luxurious space is Lexus Lounge, set aside for courtside ticketholders. Lee gave the room a heavy dose of glamour: mirrored sconces, silver faux-leather banquettes, a curved etched-glass wall. Furnishings include black Louis Ghost chairs by Philippe Starck, marble-topped tulip tables and a striking stainless-steel micro chain chandelier that hangs over the floating oval bar. Even the movable food carts got an upgrade: Lee designed them to look like pricey French La Cornue ranges. “We wanted to create a wow,” Lee explains.

While designing the arena, Lee worked on another high-profile project: helping Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife Ann remodel and furnish the Governor’s Mansion in downtown Sacramento. The Italianate Victorian house, which Nancy Reagan famously refused to live in, is getting a clean, contemporary makeover, with new kitchen, bathrooms, lighting and furniture.

Lee cites two legendary designers—Tony Duquette and Dorothy Draper—as his design inspirations. “Everything they did was a spectacle, over the top,” he says. “That’s what I love: dramatic, beautiful spaces that make people stop and notice.”

David Bradford Lee

David Bradford Lee

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Comments (4)

  • Johne

    March 30, 2017 at 3:44 am

    Never thought of it like this. Really cool to read the design perspective for a new arena. Wish I lived closer to check it out. Polished website.

    1. Dan

      March 30, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Indeed Johne. The new arena is amazing, glad you enjoyed the article!

  • Smithd852

    March 30, 2017 at 3:44 am

    Great read!

    1. Dan

      March 30, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Thank you Smithd852!

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