2020 marks the 40th anniversary of arguably one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time: Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. Homages range from the small and subtle to the outrageous. For one homeowner in Sacramento, CA, a private display of respect to his favorite series in a themed home office is just what the Jedi ordered.
Rob Equi is no ordinary Star Wars fan. On May 25, 1977, the stars aligned and he turned six on the same day as the first Star Wars film was released, a perfect family outing for a birthday celebration. From that day forward, the series became an integral part of the young boy’s life, both an obsession and a comfort.
Fast forward to present day. The films continue to be an influence. Equi is a retinal specialist, having been drawn to a career which would allow him to use lasers. Nearly finished remodeling their home, the family had one area left to address: Equi’s lounge and home office.
“I wanted to have a Star Wars-themed room,” he said. “I had a bunch of high-end memorabilia that I wanted to be able to display in a cool, fun and impressive way, and I wanted a place I could go to at the end of the day and disappear into my childhood.”
The designer strikes back
Having worked with Miche Victoria, senior designer at Benning Design Construction, on the previous three phases of their refurbishment, Equi trusted her implicitly with his unique request and shared his vision with her. “I gave her rough guidelines,” he said. “It needed to be a livable office space, so I didn’t want it to look like a movie set, but at the same time, I wanted some design elements which would be reminiscent of that universe. For example, lighting is a very important motif in the films.”
After researching iconic scenes in the original trilogy, Victoria found all the inspiration she needed to design a tasteful distinctive space. According to the designer, flooring is often the first step in a design because it’s the foundation for everything else. This home office was no exception. Recognizable from a scene on the Millennium Falcon in the first film, the flooring in Equi’s circular study now boasts a round checked motif. To the untrained eye, it is a striking modern pattern. To fans of the film, it is identical to the board on which Chewbacca and C-3PO play a tense game of holographic chess.
Finding a material which would integrate with the other design choices and could be cut into the desired shapes was crucial. Having used Neolith in previous projects for a wide range of applications, Victoria knew it was the material she was looking for. To capture the aesthetic of the spaceship, she avoided the clean contrast of a traditional black-and-white chess board, instead choosing to gently juxtapose Basalt Black Satin and Industrial Cement Satin.
“I didn’t consider any other materials,” said the designer. “For a custom design like this, Neolith was a no-brainer. You can do so much with it. The ability to customize with it is incredible. It really stands out from the competition for its thickness options and finishes. I also love the seamless look. I knew the product was going to deliver what I was looking for, while giving a timeless look.”
Distributor Evolv Surfaces and Natural Stone Design Fabrication helped bring Victoria’s vision to life with the materials and expertise needed for the custom motif. “The Neolith materials are just fantastic,” said Equi. “Their matte finish goes well with the lived-in universe of Star Wars. It’s not your typical science fiction design where everything is shiny, new and utopian.”
Jedi design tricks
Beyond the flooring, lighting played an important role in bringing the space together. Behind Rob’s desk, two large wall panels recall the fight scene between Obi Wan and Darth Vader in Episode 4 A New Hope, while the rest of the office panels draw inspiration from the iconic ‘I am your father’ scene. In the adjacent room, a life-size replica of Han Solo arrested in carbonite is backlit by a panel, referencing the moment in which he is frozen by the ruthless Vader.
While the office is for working and studying, the lounge is for relaxation. This is where Equi surrounds himself with his memorabilia — from high-end costumes to smaller pieces, like an X-wing pilot helmet and replica blaster, signed by one of the actors. The lounge also features one of Equi’s other design requests. “He asked for one James Bond element, like a secret passageway,” said Victoria. “So, we hid his TV behind the metal-clad fireplace, which he can reveal with a remote control when he wants to watch something.”
While Equi acknowledges he is more into Star Wars than his wife or children will ever be, it’s become a family interest, with all of them going together to every newly released film on opening day. Equi even provided space in the lounge in which the rest of the family can work — surrounded by Boba Fett, Han Solo and the family pet, a labradoodle nicknamed “Chewy.”
Private Home Office
Designer: Benning Design Construction, Sacramento, CA
Sintered Stone Manufacturer: Neolith, Almazora, (Castellón), Spain
Sintered Stone Supplier: Evolv Surfaces, San Francisco, CA
Fabricator: Natural Stone Design Fabrication, Sacramento, CA