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Actor, producer, and gin maker Ryan Reynolds is unanimously lauded for being a nice guy. And a lovely dude. And a normal human. And so when it came to dreaming up the office for his production company, Maximum Effort, designer Michelle Toney (cofounder of Morrow Soft Goods) wanted all those dynamics to emanate.

Silva Chairs and Liam Coffee Table, Room & Board; Paolo Rug, Morrow Soft Goods.

“Maximum Effort is not a pretentious team,” says Toney, who partnered with Room & Board on the project to make it feel as down-to-earth as the people who would be working there, starting with the boss. “Ryan knows design, and he’s done projects with [his wife] Blake, so this is not foreign to him,” Toney says of his cool demeanor, even when COVID delays put parts of the project on hold. (After all, even Mr. Deadpool can’t control a pandemic.) “We wanted a space where people would choose to gather as opposed to feeling compelled to gather,” Reynolds says.  

Still, the headquarters had to check a few key boxes, including privacy and safety. The Santa Monica property is practically its own small campus, consisting of a stand-alone 1930s Art Deco building. There’s also a courtyard for events and a small annex for private gatherings and meetings.

Next, she had to design a space that worked for Maximum Effort’s many needs, which range from producing content to pouring cocktails, and a lot of super-successful dealmaking in between. For Toney, that meant forgoing sad cubicles and instead carving out workstations that consist of unassigned, movable desks that are intentionally flexible and set in a spacious, open floor plan that spans two levels.

Employee happiness was the top priority, but Toney also considered all the VIP visitors that would be coming through the doors. To accommodate them, she added a large gathering space with long, rustic farm tables and abstract art. Cozy-chic spots with televisions also appear throughout the office—one features hand-drawn movie posters from Reynolds’s personal collection—for screenings of Wrexham football games, among the boss’s other splashy projects. 

Fun and games aside, this is a place of business. “There had to be private office spaces—you need to be able to close the door and take a Zoom or a private executive phone call. So those are all upstairs,” the designer says. But don’t worry, nothing feels too corporate, and even the bosses’ offices are meant to be kid-friendly and pet-friendly (this is L.A., after all). 

Obviously, with the success of Reynolds’s Aviation Gin, a proper bar was essential. “I took the shape of the top of the Aviation Gin label as a form for the shelf opening on the well, which is way more literal than I typically like to be, but it translated perfectly in this case,” Toney says. “It makes the bar feel right at home.”

In the end, it took nearly two years, and Toney remembers seeing everything come to life when Maximum Effort hosted its first event in the space. “It was kind of surreal,” she says. “The vibe was almost more than I hoped for with all these wonderful people, music, drinks, and creative energy uniting. It made me feel like my job was done—and that the space could grow and evolve as theirs.”