A Sink Wrapped in Tile, Green Quartzite Counters—This Workspace Is Shockingly Homey
The Kalon Studios founders get personal at their office.
Published Dec 9, 2021 1:20 AM
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While the rest of us spent the past two years researching the best ergonomic swivel chairs and modular standing desks for our home offices, Michaele Simmering and Johann Pauwen, the couple and founders behind Kalon Studios, were researching real estate in Los Angeles. Specifically, the parents of two were on the hunt for a place where they could set up a showroom and a proper office for themselves and their seven employees. “It was funny,” recalls Simmering. “We went from working at home for 14 years to a public space, whereas everybody else did the opposite.” The 2,000-square-foot spot they landed on is technically a residential building zoned for mixed commercial and industrial use (the first level is laid out like a shop with big west-facing windows that look out onto the street; the second level is designed to accommodate bedrooms). And upon first glance, you would think they live in the space full-time—and that’s kind of the point.
Unlike traditional showrooms, where the furniture is staged in groupings to give you a vague idea of how to style the pieces, Kalon’s space is anything but contrived. “Our vignettes are actual rooms,” notes Pauwen. Given the pair mostly designs residential furniture, it was only natural to approach the building like a house. Their Rugosa shelf in the airy living room is peppered with books and objects created by local artists, from Adam Silverman to Bari Ziperstein (there’s even a little horse statue in there that Pauwen made in elementary school). Upstairs, an emerald green bench offers bonus seating for team meetings. The result? “The experience really is overwhelmingly Kalon,” says Pauwen.
Kalon items, from the tallboy walnut dresser to the extendable Highland dining table, are known for their straightforward silhouettes and long-lasting materials, and the showroom follows the same ethos. The staff kitchen, for instance, consists of a simple single-wall setup with a sleek open-shelf ledge, but the loud quartzite creates texture and richness. “Everything is very straight, but the material is so wild and rhythmically chaotic,” says Pauwen.
The gold-green stone, which they found in a remnant pile at a local stone yard, and the purposely aged bronze cabinets are meant to last forever—same with their furniture. “A piece really needs to be able to work with as much as possible, so people can shift and change over time,” says Simmering. Take the brand’s beloved Caravan crib: It converts to two different styles–a three-walled toddler bed or a platform-style toddler bed that can be used as seating well beyond the nursery years.
Other areas of the showroom defy the brand’s minimalist aesthetic. In the once white-box bathroom, emerald zellige tiles from Zia Tile cover every inch of the wall, including the sink basin itself. Simmering found inspiration in cozy New England spaces. “When older houses were converted to have bathrooms, they’d have great color, like you were falling into a world of its own,” she says.
Because sustainability is a core value of the brand, it was a bonus that the roof was already decked out with solar panels. They chose an induction stove in the kitchen over a gas one and opted for fully insulated low-emissivity glass on the windows. Even the landscaping prioritizes drought-tolerant plants: The honey mesquite trees restore and replenish the soil and offer shelter to local animals, birds, butterflies, and bees.
The space that’s now the couple’s shared office was originally intended to be a bedroom (there’s even a wall of closets), so the layout stumped Simmering at first. “We wanted to design it in a way so that the whole staff could gather,” she says. The built-in bench can accommodate anyone who wants to come in and chat (or the pair themselves when they need a break from sitting upright in a chair), while the extra-large desk can act as a conference table of sorts when the simple cube stools are pulled out from their individual niches. “It’s a very warm place to come and work,” says Pauwen. In a lot of ways, it’s just like home.