Reimagining Childcare with Brella + Project M Plus
After these two-plus years, with Mother’s Day in less than a month, the constant shape-shifting work of parenting, motherhood, and beyond is on our minds. Our collective adaptation abilities are being used all the time, which stretches us thin from one point of view, but with another, is feeding innovation in every corner of the world, challenging how we ought to be living.
And if there’s anything you can take away from why we believe design to be such a crucial part of life, it’s to serve this messy human experience. To create social good, make living better, more satisfying, and beautiful in all its iterations, whether it be the design of a home, a community kitchen (explore one of our favorite projects, here), or in this project's case: childcare.
Specifically, a new way to think about childcare for the modern parent or caregiver, now that we are increasingly dealing with non-traditional work schedules, on-demand emergencies (yes, a self-care night counts), and zoom conferences in mass. Launched in 2019, Brella was founded by two mothers, Darien Williams and Melanie Wolff, who felt failed and unsatisfied by the current system of childcare in the U.S. and decided to create their ideal on-demand support network.
Their Playa Vista flagship is 8,060 square feet with three classrooms to cater to children of ages three months to six years, plus spaces for Brella’s wide-ranging activities like yoga and expert-led classes on fertility, newborn care, and parenting. They offer traditional full-time care (M-F 45 hrs a week), of course, as well as access to flexible care where you can preschedule specific hours and days in a month where you need more help or utilize on-demand care whenever you need it. Education and play are at the forefront of Brella's mission, so all children partake in a thoughtfully developed experience, including a mix of the Arts, STEM, Early Reading & Language, and Movement.
To bring this idea into the physical realm, creative agency Project M Plus designed the Playa Vista outpost of Brella in partnership with co-founder and architect Williams, AIA, and Rectangle Design Studio. Project M Plus is a Los Angeles–based collective that weaves 2-D + 3-D design expertise into all of its projects. Their specialties are wide-ranging, crafting everything from brand identity to interior design in a unique integrated studio with a team of architects, interior and graphic designers, and writers. Their philosophy is something we very much know to be true: “when you practice in all fields of design, each field benefits from your experience in the others.”
Covering multiple walls are the murals of Amelia Giller, who is a director, animator, illustrator, and Associate Creative Director at BUCK.
Besides Giller’s mural-work, the palette is clean and colorful, working with muted tones in an array of colors, balanced with plenty of visual space created by textured high ceilings, arched doorways, and neutral walls.
Besides the interiors, Project M Plus helped the Brella founders develop their brand and voice, even collaborating on programming, to cultivate a cohesive experience where the environment and mission work together. All great interiors should serve to reflect and enhance a space's function simultaneously, but Project M Plus shows it doesn't have to be without creativity and whimsy. And even more so reinforcing, that ingenuity often starts with reimagining what our ideal world could look like when we step outside the status quo.