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Goodmoods

The mood of

Commune design

The story begins on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, in sunny Los Angeles. There, Steven and Roman – the decorators behind Commune Design – have turned design codes upside down: a holistic vision, an environmentally friendly approach, a daring mix of genres. A style full of eclecticism, echoing the melting pot of the City of Angels, which also hits the spot on the other side of the ocean. Notably in Japan, where the duo designed the Ace Kyoto.

 

A strong architectural proposal and a constant concern for the planet rewarded by the important Cooper Hewitt National Design Award. In parallel with notable collaborations such as the decoration of Fanny’s restaurant or their work for the Ace Hotel group, the duo opened up to the global artistic landscape by publishing, in 2020, the second version of a plural and singular curation work. A design version of the American dream.

Santa Anita Cabin Angeles National Forest, California. 2019 © Commune Design

What day and time is it? What do you usually do at this time of the week?

 

« It’s Saturday and it’s ten o’clock. This is normally the time when I decide to read the emails and other writings that I have put aside. I put on some classical music and start the weekend quietly. »

What are your current creative desires? 

 

« My creative desires are mostly centred around learning. I always have a stock of new books, magazines, podcasts or documentaries to discover… I’m always looking for knowledge. I am self-taught so this journey never ends. »

Santa Cruz Beach House © Commune Design

The project that keeps you most busy? 

 

« Currently, Steven and I are particularly busy with a lot of cool residential projects in Northern California. My favorite is a complete renovation of a Montecito home, The Bingham Residence. It is a historic home completed in 1920. »

Bingham house, Santa Barbara – UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library

The starting point for this project? 

 

« We read everything we could find about Bernard Maybeck and this historic house.  We were lucky because the Maybeck archive was donated to UC Berkeley so we were able to get a lot of information about the house including the original plans and hundreds of pages of correspondence between Maybeck and Bingham. It was great fun. »

Bingham house, Santa Barbara – UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library

Inspiration for this project?

 

« Californian art and craft play an important role in this project. So I was inspired by Greene & Greene, as well as contemporaries from across the Atlantic such as Mackintosh, William Morris and the Omega workshops.

And of course Japan, which had a great influence on this period of design and with which we have a great affinity at Commune. »

Your madeleine de Proust? 

 

« There are so many. Joni Mitchell’s music always reminds me of my move to California twenty-five years ago. Otherwise the smell of fried fish and coconuts on the beaches of Venezuela, the taste of Sencha tea during my trip to Japan… »

A recently used material?

Bernard Maybeck

« We have many, but one that comes up regularly in our projects is native wood. For the project in Montecito, we’re using a lot of reclaimed old growth redwood, adding denim inserts in the doors and panels, and also putting gold leaf on the trim. A Maybeck-like motley spirit. »

What has shaped your taste? 

 

 

« I think growing up in Latin America had a big influence on my family, who always valued simplicity and functionality over luxury. Pretense was frowned upon.

I also think that my many years in the fashion industry in New York influenced me. I learned a lot there. But California changed everything. I would say that exploring and living in California is one of the biggest influences on how I see things. And then, of course, Commune which was the best school I could have hoped for. »

Form, fonction or fantasy?

 

« I would say function first followed closely by form. I’ve never had much interest in fantasy. »

A colour range that follows you? 

 

« I was a devotee of black until I was thirty. When I started working with Isaac Mizrahi, I began to appreciate colour and its nuances. Now it’s an area I love. I often gravitate towards earthy, natural colours as opposed to more overdone, flashy colours. »

Your colormatch of the moment? 

 

« There are too many of them! I’ve just painted my flat Farrow & Ball ‘De Nimes’ blue and I love it. It’s a colour that changes with the light of the day. »

Your last three artistic favourites?

Kazunori Hamana au Blum & Poe de Los Angeles

« I just watched The Hand of God by Paolo Sorrentino, I found it very beautiful and inspiring. I’ve never been to Naples and now I feel I must go there.

 

Covid has put me at a distance from museums and galleries but I did go to see Kazunori Hamana’s exhibition at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles. It was magical. I also went to see the work of photographer Wolfgang Tillman at Regen Projects. I’ve always had a crush on him, I particularly like the way he draws the eye of the viewer. »

Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans

Ellsworth Kelly

The next piece of design you would like to acquire?

 

« It’s not a design piece, but I’m courting the print work of Gemini G.E.L. I’d like to buy one of his works representing the work of Ellsworth Kelly. »

Ellsworth Kelly

3 iconic pieces?

Wishbone Chair de Hans Wegner

« A lighting sculpture by Akari, the Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner and a Corbusier Box.

Corbu Box de Ced Vernay

Coins to find on Leboncoin?

« Japanese fabric, arts and crafts from Tokyo’s flea market. »

The latest designer of note?

 

« Lisa Eisner. A dear friend and a great jewellery designer, we are working together on a number of projects for our joint shop. »

The creative people who influence you?

Rudolph Schindler

Isamu Noguchi

« There are many I draw inspiration from. Donald Judd, Isamu Noguchi, Charlotte Perriand, Anni and Josef Albers, Rudolf Schindler, Josef Hoffman… »

Charlotte Perriand

Josef Hoffman

Anni et Josef Albers

3 inspiring instagram accounts ?

The address you would like to discover? 

 

« I would love to go and stay in this little cabin that Vladimir Ossipoff built on Oahu, Hawaii. It’s on my list of places to go. « 

© Christine Labrador

A place to return to every week? 

 

« The Louvre. It’s a place that would take a lifetime to visit. But here in Los Angeles, I would say Hauser & Wirth. Before Covid, I used to go there almost every weekend. Not only do they have great exhibitions, but it’s a great environment and one of the only places you can meet friends, not to mention the restaurant and bookstore. »

Museo Casa Luis Barragan

The architect who would build your dream house?

 

« Luis Barragán or John Pawson. »

A scenography that stood out for you? 

 

« The setting for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s film The Sacred Mountain. »

La Montagne Sacrée

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