Established in 2007, Los Angeles-based furniture maker Kalon Studios is built on the principles of sustainability, local production and top-notch materiality. But ask the company’s co-founders, Michaele Simmering and Johannes Pauwen, what drove the development of their first-ever showroom and the brand values grow to include a sharp focus on community and connection. “The importance of building community and investing in our local community has always been a driving force behind the work we do and how we do it,” Michaele explains.
“With so much of our lives having gone online,” Johannes adds, “we felt it [the showroom in Los Angeles] was a powerful moment to channel some of our energy towards creating a physical space in the world, where people could come to experience Kalon Studios and all we stand for, touch the materials, and see how our designs make them feel.”
The Kalon Studios showroom in Los Angeles
Thrown a curve-ball by the pandemic, the two co-founders had been looking for a place that Kalon could call home for quite some time. “Finding one was a fluke, a rare silver lining of the COVID crisis,” Michaele says of the 185-square-metre space, split across three light and airy levels, that was eventually secured in LA’s Atwater Village district. “In a way, it has felt like a radical exercise in optimism,” she suggests.
Driven by materiality, the Kalon crew designed the space to feature mostly organic finishes, namely timber, linen, stone and metal. They say the intention was to highlight materials that will patina and grow more beautiful with age and use – a hallmark of Kalon’s design philosophy, evidenced by the substantial library of finishes and textiles on offer. “So much of our practice is about those materials, and about the cultivation of particular feelings and emotions,” Johannes explains. “All of that is best experienced in the flesh, with our full sensory capacities at work,” he adds.
While Kalon’s furniture might exude natural materials, coupled with elemental forms and versatility that can now be experienced in a space that mirrors the same characteristics, the showroom also reflects LA’s creative energy. Furniture pieces sit beside the work of many local artists and designers, thoughtfully styled by Kalon’s in-house studio manager Julia Saltzman and her partner Austin Leis (who are also listed as contributors of artwork) to create inspiring scenes and vignettes.
The space at-large is an open facility for the Los Angeles creative community with a dynamic program of events, experiences and workshops highlighting local creatives, likeminded makers and subjects important to Kalon’s practice. In the opening season alone, the showroom will host a class tackling Korean bojagi (a type of traditional wrapping cloth), a flower-arranging workshop using foraged blooms, rare plants pop-up sale, an out-of-print books showcase and a panel discussion about “sustainability in design”.
Synchronised with the core values of the brand, this commitment to sustainability was also given the highest level of priority during the design and building phases of the Kalon Studios flagship space. As a result, the showroom features solar power considerations and fully insulated low-emissivity glass, joined in their leading roles by a palette of sustainable materials. This includes remnants salvaged from stone yards, used in the bathrooms and kitchen, and timber flooring on the building’s second floor that’s intended to decrease heat absorbed by the roof, lessening the need for air-conditioning.
With furniture and artwork dotted across the three levels of the showroom, albeit on seasonal rotation, the ambience of Kalon Studios’ new home is unmistakably residential, akin to a welcoming embrace from street level. The first convivial floor hosts the kitchen; the casual offices are spread across the second level; and the rooftop, a landscaped “deck” occupying the third floor, is intended for furniture displays, events and Kalon’s team lunches.
Backdropped by the city and its famed palm-studded boulevards, the open-air rooftop is a fitting crescendo for the showroom. It’s a sunlit escape, congenial to a social gathering or two, where honey mesquite trees and other endemic or drought-tolerant plants will provide myriad ongoing benefits to the community, ranging from shade for visitors of the human kind to food and shelter for small mammals, birds and pollinators.
For the debut of the new showroom, Kalon Studios is previewing an expanded Rugosa collection, featuring new upholstery and timber options. The recently introduced Highland collection will also be on show, as will classic pieces from the Simple, Caravan and Isometric collections.
The ambience of Kalon Studios’ new home is unmistakably residential, akin to a welcoming embrace from street level.