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The Birth of a Dream

4-24 dirsmith essentialBy Suzanne & Ron Dirsmith

It’s speculated that the exterior spaces at Playboy Mansion West must be the most photographed in the world.  

That’s hard to quantify, of course, but it’s certainly safe to say that since construction began in the 1970s, the home of publisher Hugh Hefner and its famous swimming pool and grotto have been used ceaselessly to promote his unique lifestyle.  Indeed, the residence has attained near-mythic status as the world’s most elaborate adult playground.

For about 20 years, we had the fantastic experience of working with Hefner and his staff on a range of projects as his design consultants for architecture, landscapes, nature and built environments.  Before he acquired the mansion, we had designed and supervised the construction of Playboy’s corporate offices in Chicago as well as Hefner’s home and personal working spaces and the interior of Big Bunny, his corporate airplane.  Ultimately, those efforts would lead him to invite us to shape the [more]

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  • Thanks, Jim ...
    You brought back many fond memories. In fact we're doing another project in Chicago that is even more of a dream. As Hefner told us when we started:
    “ I would like this place to be something that nobody else has,
    and everybody can dream of having:
    a fantasy land, a dream land, just
    like my own philosophy about
    Playboy magazine.”

    “And when it is finished it should look as though it had been here forever. Remember ... whatever you show me is the minimum I expect at the end.”
    “You have no other restrictions !”

    With these words, Hugh M. Hefner strode over to the waiting limousine ... one of 6 long black stretch limousines for “Hef” and his “special friends” ...


    ... and sped off to LAX where he and his entourage of old buddies, sidekicks, gofers, runners and lissome beauties would board Hefner’s DC-9 “Big Bunny” jet for their flight home to Chicago.

    As we stood there, watching the train of limousines roar down the driveway of the sprawling Statham Estate in the rarefied enclave of Holmby Hills, California, the sheer magnitude of what lay ahead began to hit us.

    We were about to embark upon the first of the most extraordinary and challenging design opportunities of our entire lives. Little did we know then, that it would continue on for more than a quarter of a century.
    Suzanne and Ron

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