Do Lab Stage at Coachella

As the second weekend of Coachella is gearing up and I am still trying to snap back into the reality of a desk job after weekend 1, it’s hard to believe what all went down in the week leading up to festival. I had the pleasure of being on the build team for the Do Lab stage at Coachella this year, and also worked in conjunction with Hunter Leggitt Studio for the suspended front of house (aka ‘SS Biscuit’ tree house boat). As an Architectural designer, words cannot describe the feeling of finishing a week-long build hours before 90 thousand people interact with your creation.

As the second weekend of Coachella is gearing up and I am still trying to snap back into the reality of a desk job after weekend one, it’s hard to believe what all went down in the week leading up to festival. I had the pleasure of being on the build team for the Do Lab stage at Coachella this year, and also worked in conjunction with Hunter Leggitt Studio for the suspended front of house (aka ‘SS Biscuit’ tree house boat). As an Architectural designer, words cannot describe the feeling of finishing a week-long build hours before 90 thousand people interact with your creation.

Photos: Sam Titone

I started my journey a week before the gates opened for the festival. What I would be walking into when I arrived was a total mystery. This was my first time attending Coachella, or any music festival for that matter. I had not seen the design for the build, and it was only by chance that I had been able to slip on the build team (mentor and friend, Hunter Leggitt, let me tag along on the project). I had my truck fully equipped for the apocalypse I was getting ready to walk into: A 45 gallon water shower; grill; tents; blow up mattress; cooler full of beers and whiskey; and all of my tools for the build. I was ready to camp in the middle of the desert. Much to my surprise, the camp was fully prepared for its hoard of worker bees – I didn’t even need my personal stockpile. Quickly, the camp turned into a little tent community. Bartering with local farmers, festival passes were exchanged for fresh produce, and a full-time cook made 3 meals a day out of a retrofitted airstream. We were spoiled with sushi lunches, quinoa and couscous salads, breakfast sandwiches, pho dinners, and plenty of carb loaded home cookin’.

Photos: Sam Titone

The little expectations I had walking into this experience were far exceeded – I never could have imagined the dream design/build week that was in store. I met and worked alongside so many amazing people with incredible backgrounds ranging from circus fire dancers, professional tree house builders, metal workers, lighting experts, water irrigation specialists, rigging engineers, painters, fabric makers, carpenters … the list goes on. Everyone was a piece of the puzzle, and the workflow was surprisingly efficient for our dive-right-in, help-out-who-ever-needs-help approach. By Monday, we were so far ahead of schedule (which I’m told never happens), they were able to have Hunter Leggitt Studio take charge of designing and building the suspended front of house in the 4 remaining days. Since this was an unplanned design item, it sounded like a daunting task. Then we realized how much labor and machinery were readily available. With skilled workers, 3D modelers, and 24-hour work days, it was the perfect storm for a Design/Build project.

Photos: Daniel Zetterstrom

A week of 15 or 16 hour work days, plenty of late night whiskey and an all-nighter to finish everything up, everything was completed by sunrise of opening day. Only 3 hours after documenting the final product from 85 feet in the air, people began pouring in and the party had begun. At that point, my job was done and it was time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. I spent most of my time up in the tree boat looking over the party with a beer in hand and a smile on my face. It’s a huge breath of fresh air to leave the desk job and computer – a job where you are unable to see your work come to life for years. I can’t thank The Do Lab and Hunter Leggitt Studio enough for letting me into your family for the week. I had a blast and can’t wait for the next one!

I hope you get a kick out of the process shots as much as I did. Check out this little video and LA Weekly article describing the build. See the S.S. Biscuit crew at Hunter Leggitt Studio. (And if you are at Coachella this weekend, swing by the Do Lab to experience it in person!)

Sam Titone

Sam hails from a little state called Delaware and grew up chasing beach break barrels and empty pools along the east coast. After spending 5 years in Georgia getting his masters degree, surfing and skating what ever he could find, he made the move to LA where he found works at various architectural studios. Now living and working as an Architectural designer in NYC by day, he also keeps a hand on any building projects he can stay involved with in his spare time.

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