Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.
Age: 42 (Michaele Simmering) and 43 (Johann Pauwen).
Occupation: Founders of Kalon Studios.
Hometown: Providence, RI (Michaele) and Issum, DE (Johann).
Studio location: Los Angeles.
Describe what you make: Since starting Kalon in 2007, our goal has been to create the simplest, but most elevated version of an everyday object in the most sustainable way possible (Michaele).
The most important thing you’ve designed to date: It’s difficult to isolate one thing or one item that is the most important. I find that the mission and message of the company as a whole is the most important part of what we do. Kalon is designed with a 360 approach to sustainability in mind. That means from sustainable environmental practices to fair labor practices and business decisions that have a net positive impact on our planet and society. We want our work to be as restorative as possible both to industry and trade, society and the environment (Johann).
Describe the problem your work solves: We are designing archetypes—or trying to. We want our work to blend seamlessly into people’s homes and mix with what they already have. They should elevate the home space and create an atmosphere without dominating it. Like everything we live with, a piece of furniture is a tool. It has a job to do and we design it to do the best possible job it can do. We want these pieces to stay with people for a lifetime so they have to earn their place. You can change a room with a piece of furniture. Each one of our pieces is designed with that in mind (Michaele).
Describe the project you are working on now: An outdoor collection which brings us into a new space and with that comes new materials which is always exciting (Michaele).
A new or forthcoming project we should know about: We’re releasing our Rugosa Collection this May. It’s a collection of pieces for the living room and our largest collection to date. It brings several new materials to our catalog of work: sugar pine, Belgium linen, and bronzed glass (Johann).
What you absolutely must have in your studio: Silence, color, and materials (Michaele). My bowl of raw almonds and dried fruit. Other than that, I don’t need much out of my studio as I am there to be in my mind and not there to enjoy the space (Johann).
What you do when you’re not working: Read. Lately, under quarantine, I spend a lot of time sitting in my vegetable garden (Michaele). I don’t understand the question, life is work! Just kidding. I decompress by working with my hands in the garden. It keeps me grounded. I lay in my hammock under the citrus trees (Johann).
Sources of creative envy: Travel is an endless source of creativity for me. Also the utopian creative community of Black Mountain College (Michaele). I have to admit that I have great admiration for Frank Lloyd Wright. I just love that he pivoted from Arts and Crafts to Modernism in total irritation and blew everyone out of the water. I have to admit, I am not a very poetic thinker—I am too literal—so anyone who can express themselves conceptually has my admiration (Johann).
The distraction you want to eliminate: Time (Michaele). Maybe politics or, rather, politicians. (Johann).
Concrete or marble? Marble (Michaele). Depends on context, but more often concrete (Johann).
High-rise or townhouse? Townhouse (both).
Remember or forget? Remember (both).
Aliens or ghosts? Ghosts. Totally ghosts (Michaele). Aliens (Johann).
Dark or light? Light. Especially dappled light or shafts of light. I love the edges (Michaele). Dark (Johann).