A Man of Many Hats

By Michael Aushenker | Contributing Writer

In recent weeks, longtime Pacific Palisades resident Cosimo Pizzulli may best be associated with Marquette Street, where he is proposing to build a group of eight homes.

However, across decades, Pizzulli has built a reputation as a multi-hyphenate creator of everything from architecture to sculpture to his own line of wine, which he has been producing from his Palisades backyard since 2005 (with vineyards and facilities in Los Olivos and Camarillo).

From the South Beverly Drive offices of his interior design firm in downtown Beverly Hills, which the Palisadian founded with architect James Vitale in 1986, Pizzulli, who designs everything from facades to interiors to lighting and sound detailing, told the Palisadian-Post that his thirst for creative expression blossomed after high school, when the Brooklyn native came to California to work as a sculptor for local architects working on a 60-unit condominium project in Napa Valley.

It was then he was encouraged to abandon sculpting for more lucrative interior design work. After some design projects in Italy, Pizzulli designed a hotel interior in Sardinia on Italy’s Emerald Coast in 1981.

Among the restaurants whose decor Pizzulli has shaped: Giorgio’s and, locally, the former Maison Giraud on Swarthmore Avenue.

The roster of high-profile projects Pizzulli has lent his interior design prowess to began in 1992 when Pizzulli designed the quarters for Sony Music, which quickly led to assignments for Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) and Universal Music.

Cosimo

In fact, one of Pizzulli’s favorite sculptures is the 16-foot BMG cone perched at the corner of Robertson and Wilshire boulevards, where BMG once had a corporate headquarters.
“Nobody knows this but there’s a light inside the cone that lights up at night, mysteriously,” he said.

The 100,000-square-foot Sony project “was the first corporation to accept open-style ceilings with exposed structures,” he said. “Nobody had ever done that.”

Flourishes at the Santa Monica Sony Music campus included “clouds” overhead that absorbed sound.

Bill and Melinda Gates, who had set up the company Corbis to digitize images for licensing purposes, enlisted Pizzulli to design their Corbis Los Angeles facility in Culver City.

For a spell, Pizzulli held an office in Las Vegas, working on the interiors of casinos and hotels. At the Wynn Las Vegas, Pizzulli re-modeled the Fairway Suites: a dozen high-end penthouse rooms, each with their own private pool.

“I was honored to have a job like that although they put me to the test of time,” Pizzulli said, “because everything was fast-tracked.”

Currently, Pizzulli’s design projects continue around Beverly Hills, with two projects—for Italian furniture manufacturer Flexform and Parmalado, both on Robertson Boulevard—and for Molteri and Vherhier. He is about to embark on a major undertaking for men’s designer Bijan on Rodeo Drive.

Meanwhile, Pizzulli continues to produce bottles of varietals, which bear a vintage photo of his grandfather’s mug (Pizzulli is named after his grandfather, who came to America in 1906). His line includes bottles Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Nebbiolo Rose, Dolcetto and Barbera.

“Wine tasting is an extension of my art,” Pizzulli said.

Pizzulli has even dabbled in acting. Fellow vintner Franco Columbu, the former Mr. Universe and Brentwood resident, even enlisted Pizzulli to play the part of Bruce in a 2011 Italian film he made called “La Terra dei Sogni” (“Dreamland”).

However, sculpture, he said, will be his next frontier, as he continues to hone his craft.

“I’m working small scale on marble, and I’m teaching myself to sculpt in stone,” he said.

Ultimately, Pizzulli derives much inspiration from tackling all walks of creative life.

“I don’t call myself an architect,” he said. “I call myself an artist. I’m the creative soul of the office.”