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Michael Meacham, one of the minds—and executioners—of some of the most tech-savvy light structures worldwide explains his take on his latest marvel, The Penthouse Club Houston. (Photos courtesy of Richard Anderson, electricpixels.com)

“I think the initial design terrified them.”

Michael Meacham says it time and again.

As the founder of idesign Productions, Meacham has designed and helped construct exhaustive and labyrinthine audio/visual setups for establishments like E11EVEN Miami, Martini Bar Doral, and The Penthouse Club New Orleans.

His latest triumph? The Penthouse Club Houston, a sprawling mecca for pleasure.

The Penthouse Club Houston, photos courtesy of Richard Anderson, electricpixels.com
The Penthouse Club Houston, photos courtesy of Richard Anderson, electricpixels.com

“(The initial design) was so big and over the top that (the owners and The Penthouse Club) were concerned that it was way too much,” says Meacham. “You have to listen to the client, and their fears. So I went back to the drawing board and presented a different design. I think the first one was so compelling that’s the one they went with. They were still apprehensive, but once everything came together they’re very happy and love it.”

ED Magazine spoke with Meacham about what it’s like to undertake such an extensive project from start to finish.

“If somebody came to me and said I have $500,000 for a 1,500 square foot venue, well there’s no need to spend that kind of money. It’s really size-dependent. You can still give the overall design even if it’s a little less budget — maybe an LED screen, moving pieces around, things most people wouldn’t notice.” – Michael Meacham of idesign

ED: Talk about the inspiration for the 170 hexagonal pieces adorning Penthouse Houston’s ceiling?

MEACHAM: It was, like everything else, based on the initial concept. It starts with a line-weight drawing that I turn into 3D. And then it’s knowing the different parameters I had and what things I have at my disposal. It came together organically. I was putting together pieces of a puzzle and seeing what fit. It started with a couple of different iterations — moving bars, moving spheres — and honing in the idea.

The hexagon design came into mind, and as I started to put it together in the drawing, shifting pieces around and seeing how different things worked — ‘Let’s put this over here’ — you could see it start coming into focus. And from that, it just grew and grew. So I don’t know that there was a seed of inspiration that started it as much as just seeing what worked.

ED: Unlike many “new” clubs, this one was built from the ground up. How does your creative process differ between building something from scratch and altering an existing establishment?

MEACHAM: Working with a blank canvas gives you endless possibilities because you’re not tied down to rules already in place with a pre-existing building and pre-existing look. With a fresh start, you can go in and explore different options.

The Penthouse Club Houston, photos courtesy of Richard Anderson, electricpixels.com
The Penthouse Club Houston, photos courtesy of Richard Anderson, electricpixels.com

ED: Penthouse Houston enlisted you for this after seeing your work on Penthouse NOLA. I know from talking to you each project is different, but do you see any shared DNA between the two?

MEACHAM: Not at all. With Penthouse NOLA, we had
the existing structure. We couldn’t go in there and redo everything. We had this New Orleans-style building and I had to conform to their space. With Penthouse Houston, this was a totally blank canvas, from the ground up and a big open space to make that happen. You wouldn’t go to Houston and go to New Orleans and think they’re connected.

You also have to look at the environment. New Orleans has completely different architecture than what you’re going to find in Houston.

ED: A budget isn’t necessarily an obstacle for a brand like Penthouse, so how do you do the calculus for a bigger- budget project like this? (Put another way, how do you maximize a $100,000 budget and make sure it doesn’t balloon to $250,000?)

MEACHAM: It’s all relative to the space. If somebody came to me and said I have $500,000 for a 1,500 square foot venue, well there’s no need to spend that kind of money. It’s really size-dependent. You can still give the overall design even if it’s a little less budget — maybe an LED screen, moving pieces around, things most people wouldn’t notice.

ED: Where would you rank The Penthouse Club Houston among your projects?

MEACHAM: Trying to say which club is bigger or better is akin to saying what do you like better to eat? Breakfast, lunch or dinner? You like them all the same just in different ways. With Penthouse Houston, we threw all the technology we had at it. There’s definitely some deep tech in this club.”

For more information, visit www.penthouseclubhouston.com or call (832) 328-5555. For more information on Michael Meacham and idesign, visit idesignproductions.com or call (305) 713-4336. For more information on The Penthouse Club brand and/or licensing opportunities, please call (504) 267-5498 or email esuqi@kirkmgmt.com.

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