LA HOME /
HOME + LIFE IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Display until July 31, 2019
$6.99 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019
EMILIE HALPERN/KEITH FALLEN/ZEN+BUNNI WYLDEFLOWER PETER KAGAN/SIBYL BUCK+CHRIS TRAYNOR//MEGAN GEERALSOP/THE WOLVES/COMUNITYMADE
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8/BRIEFING: SHOPPING WISHLIST Summer dreaming.
10/COMUNITYMADE Shoes with a purpose in Downtown LA.
IN T E RIO RS
Co-owners, Daniel Salin, Al Almeida and Isaac Mejia, together with Bar Director, KEVIN LEE, breathe new life into one of Hollywoodâ€™s oldest stomping grounds.
At her home in Los Feliz, artist, Emilie Halpern, surrounds herself with only the things which bring her a sense of joy.
THE WOLVES i
17/MAKERS A showcase of artisans from in and around Los Angeles, curated by Lawson-Fenning co-founder, Glenn Lawson.
26/KATIE HODGES Interior Designer, Katie Hodges, shares her design process on a recent 1930s Spanish Colonial project. 30/FIVE FAVORITES Five Interior Designers choose their favorite kitchen designs.
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50/TOPANGA STORIES Erin Castellino explores the appeal of Topanga through artists in the community. 52/BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Zen and Bunni Wyldeflower at their Topanga home, which is an eclectic mix of their artistic influences. 58/THE GOOD LIFE Extensively traveled Director and Photographer, Peter Kagan, finds a place in Topanga where his food store, Canyon Gourmet, nourishes the local community. 62/A NATURAL WAY Former fashion model, Sibyl Buck and guitarist Chris Traynor, transitioned from their New York loft to a home amidst nature. 66/ONLY LOVE IS REAL Through his furniture designs Matthew Morgan straddles the line between art and practicality. 70/THE GREEN WITCH Herbalist, gardener, teacher and healer, Marysia Miernowska, combines her expertise to create wellness products at her Wild Love Apothecary in Topanga.
The home of Zen, Bunni and Alchemy Wyldeflower is an eclectic mix of their artistic influences.
74/DRAMATIC FLAIR True to her theatrical heritage, Megan Geer, creates unique ceramics and stained glass from her home studio in Topanga.
SENSE OF RE-PURPOSE i
From his workshop behind the house, Architect, Keith Fallen, transformed his Venice home, stripping the walls down to the studs and repurposing the wood to make doors and furniture.
79/VENICE STORIES Jaye Buchbinder finds a common interest in surfing among the creatives who live in Venice. 80/PAUL T DJ, Paul T, makes retro looking surfboards for the every day surfer. 82/KAREN MARINA-MASUMOTO Filmmaker, Karen Marina-Masumoto, conveys her love of skating and surfing through the action films she edits and helps to produce. 84/SENSE OF RE-PURPOSE From his workshop behind their house. Architect, Keith Fallen, renovated his Venice home, stripping the walls down to the studs and repurposing the wood to make doors and furniture.
PH OTOG RAPH Y 92/JASON CORDOVA: LA SUNDAYS Jason Cordova documents the illegal motorcycle and car culture that comes alive every Sunday at secret intersections in LA. 96/THRIVE LA Perry Goldberg and Eli Lipmen aim to relieve the issue of homelessness in LA County through building a Tiny Home, self-sufficient community in Antelope Valley. 106/TECHNOLOGY A roundup of the latest intelligent devices in the home technology sector, curated by Jenna Atchison. 111/LOS ANGELES LANDMARKS A regular feature on historical LA landmarks which have stood the test of time.
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LA/HOME E D I TO R I A L Publisher Andy Waldmanfirstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief + Creative Director Mark Castellinoemail@example.com Editor at Large/Tech Editor Jenna Atchisonfirstname.lastname@example.org Features Editor Heidi Miller Content Development Editor Irwin Miller Copy Editor Felicia Kaplan
CONTRIBUTORS Photographers Jaye Buchbinder Jessica Isaac Irwin Miller Bunni Wyldeflower Writers Jaye Buchbinder Erin Castellino Christopher Damon Heidi Miller Myra Stafford Kelly Woyan
I N QU I R I ES Advertising, Subscriptions, Custom Publishing and Distribution inquiries: email@example.com Submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org Events: email@example.com
LA HOME is printed twice a year by Focus Media Agency, ISSN 2378-5381, and is available on newsstands, retail outlets, bookstores and it is also strategically placed in upscale locations throughout Los Angeles. FOCUS MEDIA AGENCY 149 S. Barrington Ave #178 Los Angeles CA 90049 All rights reserved. LA HOME is published by Focus Media Agency. No articles, illustrations, photographs, any other editorial matter or advertisements herein may be reproduced without permission of the copyright owner. Focus Media Agency does not take responsibility for the claims provided herein.
Cover photo: Artist, Emilie Halpernâ€™s home studio by Irwin Miller
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In addition to being a partner at Gensler, Irwin Miller’s polymathic abilities include cooking, painting, photography and creating compelling and evocative social media content. His true passion lies in the collaboration with other artists and his most recent projects include award-winning stop-motion animated films. He has recently come on board as LA HOME’s Content Development Editor.
Heidi Miller is a freelance writer and producer zealously focused on the creative arts, lifestyle, skincare, cosmetic and fitness industries. She is in the midst of finishing her first novel as well as working several screenplays. Originally hailing from Essex Junction, Vermont, she has lived, worked and thrived in Los Angeles for the past two decades. She serves as not only writer but also Features Editor for LA HOME.
Kelly is an author of three books, a producer, freelance writer, and television personality. She has appeared on Martha Stewart Living and The Today Show, as well as in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, The Guardian and others. Kelly is also a feature film and documentary producer in Los Angeles. She received her Masters in Professional Writing from University of California and she lives in Southern California with her five children.
Glenn Lawson and Grant Fenning founded the lawson-fenning company in 1997 while attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where they emerged from the environmental design program with a concentration in furniture design. In 2000, they opened lawson-fenning in the heart of Beverly Boulevard’s design district to showcase seasonal collections alongside high-end pieces from around the world. Their concept store opened in Silver Lake in 2006. The shop combines their aesthetic with a high-design, low-price retail formula.
Photo: Alchemy Wolf Wyldeflower
Born and raised in Long Beach, CA. Jaye studied Sustainable Engineering at Stanford and currently works at Emeco as a Product Development Engineer, making chairs out of recycled materials. She lives and surfs in Venice Beach, CA.
Erin is a multi-disciplinary designer and healer. In her healing practice, she works primarily in the realm of prana and sound to bring awareness to clients of their inner healer, thereby restoring connection, auric vibration, and balance on micro and macro levels. She spends time in nature to support her creative and artistic flow, and she consults on design and land projects which are aligned with harmonic balance. Erin is a mother and a land steward, working to bring internal and external worlds into divine harmony.
Things I love... My family being a mama behind a lens in a darkroom great friends laughing anything with four legs ice cream cozy sweaters fire places vast views ...in any order.
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Jessica lives in Highland Park, Los Angeles and specializes in photographing interesting homes and the people who dwell within them. She believes every home has a story worth telling. Her photographs have been published online and in numerous print magazines including, Elle Decor, Goop, Apartment Therapy, The Huffington Post and Domino.
BR I E F I N G
Acapulco Egg Chair Pink PVC cord woven over black powdercoated steel frame. CB2.com. $299
3 Seater Sofa from the Riva Collection by Jasper Morrison. kettal.com Euklid from the Korgamy collection by Karim Rashid evokes a sense of cubism, whilst paying homage to the Origami style. lindstromrugs.com
PaperClipâ„˘ Table by Lella and Massimo Vignelli for Knoll. $1446
Walnut wooden plate with scorched brim by Bela Yuhova on Etsy. $85
The Corsican Chair. A hand-carved sculptural chair by Ian Spencer and Cairn Young of Yard Sale Project. toddmerrillstudio.com
Photo: Stephen Busken
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Laika Pendant Colored rattan intertwined with a powder coated black steel frame. bludot.com. $499
Arita 1616 Cup and Saucer. Designers Scholten and Baijings combine minimal forms and balanced use of colour with traditional craft technique. supermamastore.com $85
5 Minuti. A compact, wood-fired, portable oven for bread and pizza, designed for balconies, terraces and gardens. alfaovens.com
The terra-cotta Canyon Collection by Tabarka Studio pays homage to their studioâ€™s desert home, finding inspiration in the designs of Georgia Oâ€™Keefe, Frank Lloyd Wright and traditional Native American rug-making. tabarkastudio.com
Octahedron Ring Planter Playful, powder coated, steel frame planters from designer, Eric Trine. $55 and $80. amigomodern.com
The Red Sea from the Desert Trilogy collection. Hand tufted wool rug in 3 sizes. coldpicnic.com $135 - $1210
Obssession Stool from North-Korean artist Kwangho Lee, handmade in nautical rope with complex handwoven techniques. tidelli.com.
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BR I E F I N G
COMUNITYmade SHANNON and SEAN SCOTT create shoes with a purpose. BY KELLY WOYAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY IRWIN MILLER
mashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan said that when he wrote the hit song 1979, it came to him visually. “Sometimes when I write a song, I see a picture in my head….sort of a feeling waiting for something to happen and not quite being there yet, but it’s just around the corner.” Longtime Smashing Pumpkins’ fans and shoe designers, Sean and Shannon Scott, were literally walking the street corners of DTLA after one of the band’s shows in 2016 when Shannon had an epiphany. “I told Sean there was just something about the buzz down here. I could feel it. Just walking the streets you could feel this energy, this pulse,” says Shannon. “I had this really clear vision on how it was going to happen. I was amped from the music and we were Downtown and I thought to myself – I totally see this. This is what it is, this is where it is going to go. I saw everything so clearly,” says Shannon. After that fateful night, their company COMUNITYmade was born. Today, it’s a thriving business with shoes that are made by local craftsman and manufactured in LA’s Art District. But it is so much more than a shoe company; they donate $10 of every pair sold to handpicked local organizations that support the arts, education and ending homelessness. COMUNITYmade aims to be a catalyst for change right here in their backyard, by doing what they do best – design, make and sell shoes.
Shannon and Sean Scott outside their shoe store, COMUNITYmade, in Downtown LA
It was a natural progression for the married couple of 21 years and longtime footwear alums of companies such as Asics, Nike, Vans and TOMS. “I was at Asics for 27 years. I think the reason I stayed there so long is because I really believed in the founder’s (Kihachiro Onitsuka) mission. It was all about building community. He wanted to start making shoes for the kids in the streets, (of Japan), for sports because he thought sports was a good binder for building communities. These kids were playing in the streets barefoot amid the rubble, and he wanted to do something really simple. That all stuck with me. Every day I would come to work for a guy who just had this really clear vision about building community,” says Shannon, who was Asics longtime Vice President and senior director of marketing communications. Shannon’s path crossed with Sean’s while at Asics. For Sean, a shoe designer and entrepreneur, it would also set forth a plan toward finding purpose within the shoe industry. He went on to work for Nike, Vans and even to start his own skate shoe company. But it wasn’t until his work at TOMS in 2006 when his vision widened. “TOMS was an eye-opener. Shannon and I went on that first shoe drop together, in Argentina, as an anniversary gift to ourselves. We always wanted to do something philanthropic and this was a good opportunity, but neither of us thought a pair of shoes could change someone’s life. What we realized was that shoes, for a lot of these people, were their path to the church, which is usually the social center of a lot of these villages. It’s a path to school, you can’t go without shoes. After that trip, Shannon and I had to find a way to help and make it work,” says Sean. COMUNITYmade opened its doors in August 2017 in the Arts District after researching the best fit for a showroom. It’s a place with distinct energy, and the residents are committed to preserving its sophisticated street art vibe. “It’s intangible, you can’t really describe it. But
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“We are totally disconnected in the things we consume. You can talk about food and fashion but we really have no understanding of what it takes to make these things, so we undervalue them.”
walking around the streets, I can just feel it,” says Shannon. “LA had a rough go for 20 years or so after the riots. I think now everyone is really committed to sustainable growth…we all want this to remain a very special place.” The Arts District is indeed special, and a compact place that is bordered by two freeways, a river and Skid Row. It is home to places like Dover Street Market, Spotify, Warner Bros. Music, SOHO House and future home of The Girl and the Goat. The COMUNITYmade space on Mateo was the former training facility for baristas at Blue Bottle Coffee; still a neighbor next door. The interior was designed by another husband and wife team, Sarah Zimny and Peter Kovacs. Together, they structured the 3,500 square foot space to include a chic retail area in the front to a sun-drenched design and event warehouse area in the back. “It took six months to complete. Sarah and Peter nailed it. Sarah has refined taste and we talked a lot about what we wanted, which was to have some sort of barrier where people should be able to see the whole space. We wanted it opened to the front so that people felt like they were a part of everything, and then have everything mobile so we could work here and have events,” says Sean. Peter’s structural expertise came into play when designing the sleek and functional Murphy desks that roll up and get tucked away in less than five minutes. Every detail was attended to by Sarah and Peter, down to where the plants were placed. Unique collaborative elements threaded together seamlessly, like the disco ball hanging in the main area to the murals painted in the warehouse space by local artists. The bathroom, which was the only thing not gutted from the original layout, features the sleek Fliepaper wall-covering from celebrity photographer Don Flood. It’s a presentation of an artist’s mastery of color, design and scale. Everything in the space has intention and purpose, which perfectly aligns with the mission of COMUNITYmade. The showroom in the front is not only a retail space but a place where customers can experience the art of shoemaking. They can get fitted personally with one of their inline shoes and then partner with one of the local artists for a one-of-a-kind experience. Sean and Shannon can also collaborate with a customer, through a personalized design meeting, to create a custom shoe. Either way, it’s a win-win for both the designer and consumer, allowing both to connect to the overall process while giving back. “Anytime you can bring a brand to life through something experiential, where they get to see first hand what you stand for, I think that is super meaningful,” says Shannon. With the structural plan in place, Sean and Shannon decided on three local organizations that fulfilled their passions most. Street Poets supports the arts by creating a community through poetry and
art as a way to help at-risk youth. The Youth Mentoring Connection also provides at-risk youth resources, education and mentors. Finally, COMUNITYmade supports The People Concern, whose mission is to provide empowerment to those who are most vulnerable in our neighborhoods – the homeless. When Sean and Shannon needed to narrow down on a manufacturer, finding one that was local was important to them. “Like everything else, there was a process search and it ended up being an organic choice. We had kissed a few frogs. We finally found somebody who understood what we were doing and that was Alex Zar at La La Land. It was his passion to bring manufacturers back to LA. Factory owners rarely have a vision. So to find someone who has a vision is fortunate,” says Sean. Footwear manufacturing in LA used to be robust and in the hundreds. Now there are about a dozen manufacturers left in the Los Angles area. Sean says it’s crucial to understand the value of knowing where the products we use come from. “We are totally disconnected in the things we consume. You can talk about food and fashion but we really have no understanding of what it takes to make these things, so we undervalue them.” Shannon says the success of COMUNITYmade was years in the making, drawing on each of their experiences over two decades in the shoe business and in marriage, and in raising their 26-year-old daughter and 20-year-old son in their current home in Redondo Beach. They always felt they had more to give, and both knew that when this opportunity came forward, it would be a moment in which they were stepping into something more. “Just giving money is never really going to make you happy. What’s going to make you happy is when you feel like you’ve been able to help somebody and really make a meaningful contribution to another person. It’s a scientific fact. You get an endorphin release if you do something positive for another … it changes your DNA,” says Shannon. Just like that night after the Smashing Pumpkins show, Sean and Shannon knew something with a greater purpose was right around the corner and intuitively felt it. They followed their hearts, (and their vision), and took a risk. So far, it’s paid off. “We’ve been traveling a lot lately. And, on one hand, when we come home, the last thing you want to do is come to work – but then we got here, and we both left that day and said, ‘THIS is where we get our energy, our direction… and our soul,” says Sean. Clearly.
COMUNITYmade 584 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
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In this issue, our showcase of artisans is curated by Glenn Lawson, co-owner of Lawson Fenning, and it features a selection of the many craftspeople who work in and around Los Angeles.
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M A K E R S
Using land, organic materials and metals Bradley Duncan constructs sculptures and site-specific environments evoking universal ideals of order, balance and form. A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Duncan works within the minimalist tradition, emphasizing simplified geometric form. His sculptures reference modern and ancient architecture, working with space, both solid and void, drawing attention to shadow through light. Time casts upon sculptures throughout the day. Shades of repetition appear and disappear, awareness to rotation. His process realized through the integration of art, design and landscape results in a strong refined expression. Duncanâ€™s primary interest is in the spatial dialogue between organic and built environments â€“ between natural order and the order that we apply to it. In addition to his formal education in sculpture, the Los Angeles artist draws influence from the aesthetic craftsmanship of the Shaker community in his home state of Ohio, as well as the native plants and geological formations of his current state of residence in California.
bradleyduncan.com 20 LA HOME | SPRING/SUMMER 2019
The Southern Californiabased ceramic artist Warner Walcott founded Magnolia Ceramics in 2009. The clean line and pureness of form that characterize his work is drawn from a love of post-war and mid-century Scandinavian, British, and French ceramics. Having previously worked in the worlds of fashion and publishing, he now crafts each piece by hand in his studio in Los Angeles.
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M A K ER S
Taidgh Oâ€™Neill is a Los Angeles based designer and maker of furniture and textiles. Recently, Taidgh developed a rug design practice in which architectural details are rendered 3-dimensionally, flattened and colored based on two-dimensional color principles. He works with two families indigenous to Oaxaca, Mexico to realize these 100% woolen flat weaves. The dyes are environmentally friendly and all spinning and weaving is done by hand, ensuring the stewardship of the Zapotec culture.
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Founded in New York and recently re-established in Los Angeles, Archive New York is a collection of handwoven, artisan made home textiles, founded in 2014 by designer and Parsons graduate, Amira Marion. At Archive, the philosophy is to honor the integrity of Mayan artisan craft techniques, while committing to Fair Trade principles. Designs are based on beautiful and rare local vintage fabrics, then remade with the artisans in the village where they originated. Most recently, Archive NY has expanded beyond Guatemala to work with artisans in Mexico and India.
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M A K E R S
California native, Victoria Morris, has been making pottery for over 20 years. She is inspired, in part, by mid-century Scandinavian forms as well as traditional Japanese aesthetics and craftsmanship. Victoria emphasizes simplicity in form as well as the beauty found in subtle, random imperfections inherent to traditional pottery. Working from her studio in Echo Park, CA, she throws each piece by hand, creating a variety of functional objects/art pieces that are uniquely her own.
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Vincent Pocsik is an American artist and designer who lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. He attended graduate school for architecture at Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, he opened a studio in downtown Los Angeles, which developed into the studio he runs today. Vincentâ€™s work balances old and new fabrication techniques to breathe new life into materials while holding onto the richness of the past. This process is influenced by the desire to push the traditional boundaries of mediums such as wood, glass, and metal so each work transforms into an anatomical expression and presence of its own. All furniture pieces are made inside his shop in Los Angeles. All glass, metal and upholstery work is done with local Los Angeles craftsmen.
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M A K E R S
mt. washington pottery
Beth Katz is the creative force behind Mt. Washington Pottery, a beautiful collection of functional and decorative ceramics. Beth makes all the work by hand and on the potterâ€™s wheel in her Los Angeles, California studio. Her work has an elegant simplicity, which marries the wabisabi aesthetic of traditional Japanese ceramics and the modernism of Scandinavian design. These elements are clearly visible in the fluidity of her forms and in the literal mark she leaves of her own hand: the remnant of her fingerprints at the bottom of each piece.
Ten10 is a Los Angeles-based company founded by Scott and Joanna Nadeau in 1997. After years of providing custom residential and commercial design solutions, they began producing a line of furniture that continues to strive to provide quality, timeless products with a modernist sensibility. They also represent California environmental ceramist Stan Bitters. These two parts of their business meld to create a visual point of view to which they are continually drawn. It was a natural progression for them to turn their shared interest in design and architecture into furniture design. Scott has a lifelong background in mechanics and restoration, which honed his sense for the functionality of an object. He has restored motorcycles, cars, houses and commercial property. He started out racing and restoring motorcycles at age 12 and he bought his first apartment building to restore in Echo Park when he was 17 years old. He also restored the historic Union Building in Old Town Pasadena, and the Modernica headquarters in Vernon, along with personal residences along the way. Joanna worked in film production, then product development at Paramount Pictures, before they formed Ten10 together. Their design aesthetic was further developed through work with many of the original artists, architects and designers who were part of the mid-century modernist movement in Southern California.
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DES I G N E R
S P OTLI GH T
KATIE HODGES Interior designer, KATIE HODGES, shares her design process and resources on the completion of a Spanish Colonial home renovation in Beverly Hills. BY KATIE HODGES PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMY BARTLAM AND PETER VITALE
his home is located in the ‘flats’ area of Beverly Hills, on a quiet tree-lined street. Built in the 1930s, the Spanish Colonial home’s striking original details were still intact, but needed some restorative work to revive its original charm. Over the course of 2 years, Katie Hodges Design fully designed and project managed the renovation of the original structure, as well as the addition of the parlor and master bedroom suite.
Katie Hodges Principal, Katie Hodges Design Katie Hodges, Principal Designer and Creative Director of Katie Hodges Design, is a self-taught interior designer in Los Angeles, CA. Ukrainian born and Los Angeles-raised by two relentlessly hardworking parents, Katie was pursuing a medical degree when she discovered her interior design talents through her job as a personal assistant. Realizing this, Katie quit her master’s degree program and dedicated herself as an interior design intern by day, and AutoCad drafting student by night. The hard work paid off, and a year later Katie earned a position working for one of LA’s top design firms. She climbed the ranks quickly, managing a roster of high-end interior design projects, then moving on as a lead designer with the home staging company, Meredith Baer Home. Despite her job security, Katie craved a new challenge, as well as an opportunity to explore her personal design perspective. In 2014, she decided to branch out on her own, founding Katie Hodges Design. Katie’s work ethic, dedication to her clients, and immense passion for the interior design industry have catapulted her career as one of the LA’s most sought after interior designers.
Throughout the process, architectural integrity and staying true to the home’s soul was at the forefront of each decision. While my clients wanted an element of elegance and formality in the overall aesthetic, it was equally important to create an environment that felt welcoming and functional. Nothing could be too precious or intimidating to touch.
Deeply rooted in her love for California’s architecture and lifestyle, Katie’s designs are intelligently layered, striking a balance between modern and traditional, while maintaining accessibility that never feels overly-designed or precious. Working across various design styles, Katie mindfully incorporates her signature aesthetic in a way that equally honors the client’s lifestyle and soul of the home. Her work and design expertise has been featured nationally in high-profile publications and television broadcasts, including Architectural Digest, NBC and Luxe Magazine.
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ENTRY The antique Caucasian rug maintains the color palette of terra-cotta and the original staircase tile to establish a cohesive foundation. When it came time to source furnishings, I decided to mix in a few subtly different styles to avoid a literal Spanish theme. Mirror - Lucca Antiques Lamp - Lucca Antiques Rug - Marc Phillips Rugs DINING ROOM Centrally located on the first floor, everyone walks through the dining room to get to either the parlor, kitchen or backyard. Thus, my intention was to create a space that looked beautiful and tailored, yet not so formal that it lost accessibility. A muted color palette, paired with organic wood tones and textures maintained a simple and casual elegance. Chandelier - Paul Ferrante Sconces Formations Console - Noir Furniture Mirror - Big Daddyâ€™s Art - JF Chen
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DES I G N E R
S P OTLI GH T
MASTER BATH Regardless of how often it may or may not be used, walking into that tub under the window has always felt like the piece-de-resistance of the master suite, even dictating the layout of the bedroom! One of my favorite bathroom color palettes is black and white with accents, because it feels crisp and clean, yet still warm. The hand-painted terra-cotta tiles were selected in a small scale geometric pattern, so that I could layer an antique rug without the patterns clashing. Tile - Tabarka Studios, Rug - Marc Phillips , Plumbing - Waterworks
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MASTER BEDROOM Situated above the parlor, the master bedroom and bathroom were also part of the addition. Here, my vision was to create an ethereal and soothing feeling – a sort of understated elegance that felt open and uncluttered. The in-house custom wood bed is a nod to the original Spanish architecture, and the wood beams added a warm, rustic element. Working with incredible artisans is really what this room reminds me of – from the plaster and finish, to the furnituremakers… there was a lot of heart and soul poured into this space. Rug - Marc Phillips, Chairs - Brenda Antin
MASTER LOUNGE An entry into the master suite, I wanted the lounge to feel like a cozy nest – small, and comforting. Functionally, the clients asked for a mini-home office and space to watch tv upstairs, and while the layout was tight, we capitalized on every inch! When it came time to select the color palette, I started with the rug, which also ties into the terra-cotta tile found downstairs. One of my favorite design tricks is to play with wood tones, varying them slightly so that the furniture doesn’t look too matchy. This is especially important when you have several pieces within close proximity. Rug - Lawrence of La Brea, Coffee Table - JF Chen, Art - Stuart Redler
PARLOR An addition to the original structure, the idea of creating the ‘parlor’ was driven by my clients’ love of entertaining and hosting large gatherings. The design direction began with the question of how to tactfully integrate something ‘so new,’ into an adjacent space that was ‘so old’. By incorporating original architectural details (i.e. the beams and steel windows), and maintaining the home’s warm and textural color palette, the space doesn’t feel like an anomaly. Cabinetry craftsmanship and details were important design elements, (and were drawn in-house by us). The custom metal shelving is adorned with the client’s collection of spirits....the crown jewel of the room! Pendants - Circa Lighting Stools - Thomas Hayes Studio Rug - Marc Phillips
Katie Hodges Design katiehodgesdesign.com
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five KITCHEN DESIGNS
In a regular series of Favorite Things, five Interior Designers showcase their favorite Kitchen Designs.
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K I TCHEN DESI GN
Ryan Saghian ryansaghian.com
â€œThe star pendant lighting is my favorite part of this room. The idea was to have it act as a powerful accent in an otherwise minimalistic kitchen. The muted gray cabinets alongside neutral furniture and gold details add the right amount of eyecatching, without being too over the top.â€?
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FAVO R I T ES K I TCHEN DESI GN
Photo: Amy Bartlam
Joyce Pickens jdpinteriors.com
“I designed this kitchen for a family in the Pacific Palisades. They really wanted coastal vibes but the existing architecture and overall style of the house leaned more towards a Mediterranean feel. I saw these tiles at the Tabarka showroom – blue with antiqued terra cotta edging – and I knew they would be the perfect blend of the two worlds! They were the inspiration for, not only the kitchen, but the rest of the house as well.”
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K I TCHEN DESI GN
Amy Sklar sklardesign.com
Photo: Darcy Hemley
â€œFor this major kitchen remodel, the homeowners wanted not only to update their home, but also to make the rooms more efficient and user-friendly. I completely changed the tone of the previous kitchen, replacing dark cherry wood cabinets and black granite countertops with bright white cabinetry and Carrara marble counters and backsplash, resulting in a space that feels chic and traditional at heart, with a contemporary edge. Open communication between the family room and kitchen, more and better kitchen storage, a special work area for pastry and baking, and a place for family dinners in the kitchen were also incorporated. The family likes to be together and have their son nearby working on homework while dinner is being prepared.â€?
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FAVO R I T ES K I TCHEN DESI GN
Photo: Ted Thornton
Lindsay Pennington lindsaypennington.com
â€œThe clients of this home in Santa Monica are young and they host a lot of parties. While they have a full-sized kitchen that was suitable for food prep and storage, they desired an additional kitchen space that could serve as beverage storage. It also had to include a dishwasher for glassware, and a full-sized sink and faucet for clean up and entertaining right off the dining room.â€?
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K I TCHEN DESI GN
BROOKE WAGNER DESIGN
Brooke Wagner brookewagnerdesign.com
“Kitchens are one of my favorite spaces to design! They are oftentimes the heart of the home and way more than just a space to prepare meals. I love kitchens to feel warm and inviting as they are functional. I prefer natural stone countertops, and a mix of textures and materials is always a plus.”
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THE wolves Co-owners, DANIEL SALIN, AL ALMEIDA and ISAAC MEJIA, together with Bar Director, KEVIN LEE, breathe new life into one of Hollywoodâ€™s oldest stomping grounds. BY HEIDI MILLER PHOTOGRAPHY BY IRWIN MILLER
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DOWN TOW N
Above: Isaac Mejia (owner), Kevin Lee (bar manager) and Al Almeida (owner), The Wolves restaurant and bar in Downtown LA. Right: Daniel Salin, owner/designer.
he most remarkable thing about The Wolves Restaurant and Bar in Downtown Los Angeles is that, less than three years ago, this extraordinary example of turn-of-the-century architecture and design did not exist. Or rather, it did, but only in the mind of Daniel Salin, its co-owner and designer, its interiors scattered in pieces throughout the country, yet to be acquired and assembled.
of the manual labor themselves, with an almost an unheard of level of perfection, included installing the massive, 1880s stained glass ceiling.
Housed in what was most likely an original entry to the historic Hotel Alexandria’s famed Palm Court, the space was just an empty shell when he and partners, Al Almeida and Isaac Mejia, found it. What it lacked in aesthetics, it fully made up for in rich, dense Hollywood history. Even so, it would take true visionaries to unlock the full potential of this architectural lacuna.
Further incredulities lay in store for them as well. After a visit to the lobby of LA’s Fine Arts Building, Salin realize that the floors in the space were, in fact, original Batchelder tile crafted by ceramic artist Ernest Batchelder, a leader in the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
In the 1910s, when The Alexandria was in its heyday, Los Angeles’s first five-star luxury hotel quickly became a playground for the rich, powerful and famous. Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Rudolph Valentino roamed the corridors. Its grandiose ballrooms played host to some of the most important social and political events of the times, including speeches by William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson and General John J. Pershing. It is where Paul Whiteman, later known as the “King of Jazz”, got his start as a bandleader. Monumental changes were happening in the country. Ford would launch the first moving assembly line, immigration to the US would hit its all-time peak and Hollywood would be replacing the East Coast as the center of the movie industry. Salin, a former antique-store owner, Set Designer, Art Director and Banksy cohort, took charge of the main design, while Almeida, a fellow Art Director and Set Designer used his additional bar experience as part owner of The Falls, just down the street from The Wolves, to round out their collective expertise. “Food is my passion.” Says Almeida, who runs the day-to-day operations of the business. “This time around, I wanted to do something with a kitchen.” Aces and spaces, they used each other’s knowledge and gaps to curate an atmosphere that is both authentic and inviting. Physically doing most
“It came out of a train station in Paris, Illinois,” Salin explains. “It was originally one long piece with the two end caps positioned at opposite ends. When I realized that it was 11 feet wide and our space was 22 feet, we decided to cut it half and do a double arch instead, placing both end caps on one end so that you can look into the dome of the arch from the balcony. It was a huge gamble but it fit perfectly.”
“When we found out that the original walls were in about a foot in on each side, we demoed them and also found original 1911 wallpaper beneath,” says Salin. Carefully and painstakingly removed, the thick, brown, pressed sheets where rehung near the ceiling in the main room. Tin panels taken from above the bathroom were then repurposed to line the front room walls, directly below. The balcony itself is equally remarkable. Accessible from the antique spiral staircase to the right of the front door, it is the only balcony dining inside and outside on Spring Street. Its railing, from NY in the 1860s, is the oldest item in the space, and was specially selected based on its adherence to Los Angeles’ strict coding laws with a maximum of 4-inch gaps. The lamps on the front bar and front doors are from 1890s Argentina. The beer taps are antique billy clubs. The main back bar is from Chicago in 1905. Two original, oversized, 1920s Los Angeles Street lamps adorn the top of the bathroom like beacons while a marble angel guards over you while you stand at the double, 100-year-old sink adorned with gold swan faucets. “A lot of marble guys ask me if I want to repair the sink. I say no. I want to leave it like it is. It has character.” says Salin. And this is the theme throughout; an abundance of imperfect character, layered with tangible
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history, as is evident in the booths that hail from Seneca Falls, NY, where women’s suffrage movement began. Salin found them online and, two days later, he and Almeida flew to NY to rescue them from of the café they had been sitting in since the 1920s. They loaded them on a rented truck and proceeded with a buying trip across the country. It was on this excursion that the pair were able to rescue a second back bar from Almeida’s childhood home in New Jersey. “Some of my first memories are at age six when my Dad would drop me off at the bar he owned to go run errands in the 70s. It had been there since the 20s. When my dad later sold it, he took the back bar and put it in our basement so I grew up with it.” Back in Los Angeles, the piece was installed in the mezzanine and, once again, it was a perfect fit. This almost hidden area called Le Néant, French for ‘nothingness’, is a dedicated cocktail lounge separate from The Wolves, where, on Thursday nights, twenty guests can participate in an elevated cocktail program by reservation only, one that is often sold out months in advance. Here, Salin crafted a more intimate, lounge-style space with coffee tables, love seats and couches. Almeida’s family heirloom bar is flanked by two gilded, Italian angels donning glass eyes and real, human hair eyelashes. A photograph of the audience at a Roosevelt speech in Yonkers in the early 1910s covers the back wall, just in front of a live performance stage. Overhead are the African mahogany ceilings that Salin and Almeida painstakingly cut, stained and installed by hand, a task that took them a month and a half to complete. Although the work that went into creating The Wolves was extraordinary, it didn’t stop there. The immaculate sets were complete, the quintessential pub menu perfected and the custom waitstaff uniforms, (by LA-based clothing designer, Christy Dawn) were selected, but still, a key ingredient was missing. “I compare us to the small, independent film.” Says co-owner and Managing Partner, Isaac Mejia. “Al comes from a bar background, Daniel from an artist background and I put movies together. For me, it’s about putting all the right players in place, like finding Kevin. He is our star.”
FADE IN: INT. PUZZLE BAR – NIGHT (SUMMER 2018) Enter KEVIN LEE. Late-20s. Bartender extraordinaire. Serious, focused, passionate, hardworking and impeccably dressed. Kevin’s parents owned a popular bakery in Garden Grove when he was a child, followed by a Korean restaurant in Buena Park. Lee’s first job was doing dishes at 14 years old before entering the bar industry with his brother 6 years ago. Their highly regarded Puzzle Bar, located in a strip mall in La Mirada, CA, broke new ground on the LA bar scene. Lee was making his own Amari, bitters, liqueurs, and vermouths from scratch using only fresh, seasonal produce, changing each week based on the farmer’s market availability. A few months before opening, Mejia heard about Lee’s innovative work and approached him. “The clientele there didn’t appreciate what he was trying to do. When we met, I knew it was a perfect match,” says Mejia. It didn’t take much to convince him. When he walked into The Wolves, he immediately declared, “I belong here.” With Le Néant, the goal is to eventually open 4 days a week. “A bigger goal is for us to make an imprint on the cocktail world,” says Mejia, “We’d like to have Kevin educate and take his methods globally at some point. We want the idea of seasonality to be a bigger part of the bar world.” For Mejia, who grew up only seven blocks from The Wolves, watching Downtown LA come back to life is clearly a source of pride. “We are so happy to be a part of that. I grew up going to [LA landmark] Clifton’s as a kid. Our ultimate goal for The Wolves is longevity.”
The Wolves 519 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Monday – Sunday, 5pm - 1am
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THE HALPERN HOME
artful serenity At her home in Los Feliz, artist, EMILIE HALPERN, surrounds herself with only the things which bring her a sense of joy. BY EMILIE HALPERN PHOTOGRAPHY BY IRWIN MILLER
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FE L I Z
e bought this house when I was 6 months pregnant with my son Harold. We were looking for a home where we could start our family. I think that means different things to different people. To me, it meant a home that felt familiar and beautiful. I wanted it to feel like me like it was mine. That’s a hard thing to feel when homes have a history and different owners. And yet, at the Open House, I remember sitting in the Japanese soaking tub in the downstairs Master and never wanting to get out. I think a dream home should be a place you never want to leave. Los Angeles is a place built on dreams.
I grew up in a Sea Ranch style home in the Bay Area. We left Paris and moved to a home in the redwoods with a creek running through it. It’s made of wood inside and out. The interior walls have diagonal wood slats and high pointed ceilings with skylights. It was built a decade after this house. Like long lost siblings, you can trace the natural trajectory between the two. And before that, it begins with Japanese architecture. I’m half French and half Japanese. The influence of Japan on the West has long been a fascination of mine. This house was built in 1962. The architect, Ray Osoling, worked with Richard Neutra. He built it for his sister and her family. They had 3 children who grew up here, and the parents lived here the rest of their lives. It was built on the gardens of the Venetian palazzo style mansion across the street. That one was built in 1926 by the silent filmmaker Marcel Turner. In the 1960s, it became a rock n roll mansion when Arthur Lee from “Love” moved in. The Velvet Underground and Jimi Hendrix stayed there, and the wrap party for Easy Rider took place there. Emilie Halpern and Kibbles at her home in Los Feliz.
When I built the pool for my house last year, we hit concrete several times. Uncovering, like at an archeological site, the original ponds and parts of stairs that had long since been covered up by landslides. The stairs that separate my property from my neighbors has a waterway running through the middle that was a fountain. My next project is to restore it. The first renovation project I did right after I moved in was to convert the garage to my art studio. I added windows, and lighting, and painted the walls white. At first, I made my sculptures and installation art there. More recently I converted it into a proper pottery studio, which is also a big part of my art practice. The floating shelves and sliding door closets were designed by Estudio Persona with the pottery studio in mind.
In the living room are two black leather Nido lounge chairs and a polished stainless steel and white oak Puru side table by Estudio Persona. Estudio Persona also designed the custom white oak coffee table and low credenza to hold Emilie Halpern’s late husband’s record collection. Three large prints by Jonas Wood hang on the wall to help break up the darkness of the wood and brighten the room. The black floor lamp is by Michael Anastassiades and the brass table lamp by Henry Wilson. Outside, are concrete stairs that were part of the original gardens for the mansion across the street built in 1926. A large cactus was recently planted by Terremoto Landscape.
Emilie Halpern’s 7 year old son’s bedroom has a maple custom bed & side table by Estudio Persona. The V-light table lamp is by Atelier de Troupe in collaboration with Commune Design. On the wall, an original sconce was replaced with the walnut Radient sconce by Rich Brilliant Willing. The wool rug by Cold Picnic was inspired by a film still from Werner Rainer Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.
Estudio Persona also did the interior design and custom furniture for the rest of the house. They are the incredibly talented duo, Jessie Young and Emiliana Gonzales, from Uruguay. They came into my life at a very important time. A few months after starting the design process, my husband killed himself. And a month later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. There’s a clear line that forms when something like that happens. Your life before and your life after. The house has come to represent that. It was here before and it’s here afterward. But everything inside it went away. In her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, Marie Kondo describes visualizing what you want your environment to be. How you want to use it, but also how you want to feel in your home. There were many things that felt out of control in my life, and that used to be reflected by the visual chaos that I saw when I walked through the door. I wanted my home to be a sanctuary. Whatever was going on, no matter how hard, my home has been a respite from the challenges in my life, like a sturdy ship to sail me through a storm. Every day I have a moment where I admire its beauty. Does it spark joy? That’s what Marie Kondo wants you to ask as you hold every object in your home. The answer was no. Bookcase with your sagging shelf, you don’t spark joy! Desk made out of a door and thrift store filing cabinets, you don’t spark joy! Hand-me-down furniture from our parents, nope, NO JOY!! When everything was gone, I could finally bring in things that I truly loved and appreciated. The first pieces I bought were the two black leather Estudio Persona Nido lounge chairs with a bleached walnut base for my living room. Then I looked around and thought, “oh crap, I need to get rid of everything else.” Every piece of furniture left my house. I had an
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FE L I Z
The vinyl wall text is an artwork by the conceptual artist Cerith Wyn Evans.
IKEA graveyard in my driveway at one point. Looking back I can’t believe I lived with so much crappy, crap. I love beautiful things, and to be surrounded by beauty in every small detail is so important to me. The Estudio Persona furniture, the lamps by Atelier de Troupe and Rich Brilliant Willing, the rugs by Cold Picnic all transformed my home. I remember Jessie from Estudio Persona saying, this house needs an injection of love. That’s exactly what she and Emiliana did. They looked at the house and responded to what each room needed. They started with the architecture and each piece was born from there. That made sense to me, that’s the way I think about an exhibition space. I make site-specific installations and it all begins from observing the space. Even a white cube has lighting or windows that the sun shines through. I made an artwork where I put gold leaf wherever the direct sunlight hit the interior of the gallery space at one specific moment in time. My work is minimal. Once I saw their process, it clicked for me. I remember them teasing me because I would barely want to put anything in each room. Rooms which previously had been cluttered with nonsense, now I saw they could be serene like a traditional Japanese tea room, with just a scroll and an Ikebana flower arrangement. I have one of my artworks installed in my office. It’s made up of Fluorescent rocks illuminated by black light. Living with art is so different from seeing it in an exhibition. When it was shown in a gallery, the installation filled the entire space. The rocks were placed on the ground. During the day they looked like plain rocks, but at night they would fluoresce brilliant colors. The rocks are placed on a counter. I walk by them every day. Sometimes at night, I get stoned and admire the rocks as they glow and lay on the Cold Picnic rug under the black light. The rug is based on a film still from The Passenger by Michelangelo Antonioni. The abstract tan and black shapes represent the dunes of the North African desert. I’ve had many dance parties
Emilie Halpern’s home was built on the original gardens of the 1926 Venetian style palazzo that used to dominate the whole hill. The concrete stairs are left over from that time. The waterway down the middle was once a fountain. The stairs are shared with a neighbor to the right.
A step stone walkway leads from the front door to the garden and pool. The landscape architecture firm, Terremoto, recently renovated all the landscape and designed the pool and deck. Johnston Vidal Project worked with them to build it.
in that room. It’s amazing the atmosphere the black light can create. The most meaningful things in my home are the artworks. Artworks are not functional objects like the rest of the things you fill your home with. Their purpose isn’t to serve your body, but to serve something else – your mind, your heart, your desire. If you’re going to bring something into your home that you can’t use, let it make you feel. For me, it’s joy, love, admiration, inspiration. The artworks that have the most meaning are by friends. Jonas Wood, Kim Fisher, Ridley Howard, Jedediah Caesar, Stephen Prina, Arthur Ou, Andrew Cameron, Euan Macdonald, Anthony Campuzano. They are artists that I admire and that I believe in, and trading with them or collecting their work is a way that I can show that. The first artworks I “collected” were by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. I was visiting New York for the first time and I went to the Guggenheim. It was his retrospective. He made endless copies of large prints on paper that are exhibited in stacks on the floor. Each one is free for the viewer to take. I hung one on the ceiling above my bed, a black and white image of a cloudy sky with a bird, and I would fall asleep staring at it. Art can be free, and it can change your life.
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Emilie Halpern’s artwork is installed on a counter in her office. In daylight, they look like regular rocks, but under black light they fluoresce brilliant colors.
Anthony Campuzano’s colored pencil text drawing hangs in Emilie’s son’s bedroom. It was inspired by the Rolling Stones’ song 2000 Light Years From Home.
Emilie Halpern emiliehalpern.com
The two car garage was converted to an art studio when Emilie Halpern moved in. The windows overlook the hills of Griffith Park, one of the best views in the house.
“Artworks are not functional objects like the rest of the things you fill your home with. Their purpose isn’t to serve your body, but to serve something else - Your mind, your heart, your desire. If you’re going to bring something into your home that you can’t use, let it make you feel.”
More recently, it was updated to be a ceramics studio with pottery wheels and a kiln. Custom shelving and closets were designed by Estudio Persona. The shelves are used to display Emilie’s latest vases and bowls.
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Topanga stories BY ERIN CASTELLINO PHOTOGRAPHY BY BUNNI WYLDEFLOWER
have lived in Southern California my entire life; born in San Bernardino, raised in Burbank. I’ve lived in many areas in this vast city of Los Angeles – Pasadena, Redondo Beach, Los Feliz, Downtown, South Pasadena, Brentwood, and at last... Topanga.
I had been wanting to feel part of a community, and for a brief but fleeting moment, I did. The transient nature of Los Angeles gave me the gift of having friends all around the world but I searched for a place to belong, a place to really root down.
Through breathwork and sound, I hold nourishing, sacred space for healing, transformation and integration.
Before buying a home in Brentwood, I looked at Topanga, a small mountain town close to the ocean, devoid of chain stores and fine dining. I dreamed of finding a place there but nothing surfaced, and it was as though the energy there said... it’s not time yet. So I listened, and I lived in a sweet neighborhood called Brentwood Glen. I spent 15 years there, made a few friends in the neighborhood but I still had a deep yearning to live in Topanga. I started noticing that some of my very favorite things were made by people that lived in Topanga – Earth and Element pottery and ZenBunni chocolates, to name a couple. Then I started meeting more people who lived in Topanga and I could feel the call of moving to this magical place was becoming much more present. One afternoon, I was in a meditation that revealed to me that I was to work on attachments. This flummoxed me... I felt as though I had removed myself from so many things that I was attached to – whether it be things or people, ways of being, businesses. 2016 and 2017 were the years of reassessment, letting go, deep listening, re-inventing, re-structuring... all the things that one needs to go through to fully awaken – or better stated – learning to live in my full truth. I called a dear friend and said: “I feel like I’ve given up everything, what could this mean?” He so kindly replied, “What about your house, you seem attached to that?”
At home with my daughter India. Audio and sensory experiences are an important part of my daily life.
I felt my heart drop. He was right. I was attached to my home, and yet I was not fully living in it. 24 hours later, I met with a realtor and a week after, I moved out all of my furniture and I painted, staged and put my house on the market. I found myself breathing deep breaths, nervous and excited for a new adventure, one that would take me to where I wanted to live for the last 15 years. Topanga. There I was at PCH and Topanga Canyon Boulevard, ready to find a place to live, and I did. It was as though the house was waiting for me. Topanga accepted me with open arms and I moved a few weeks later. Topanga is the first place in my adult life that feels like home, a place that has allowed me to flourish, raise my child in nature and find alignment in the way I live. The friendships are deep, the people are kind, creativity flows and community is alive. I thought perhaps after living in Los Angeles my entire life that I might only be able to dream about what community means, but Topanga changed that for me. For that, I am forever grateful to this beautiful land and the teachings it brings me every day. Over the following pages, I would like to share some of my favorites places, people and animals of Topanga. I hope you enjoy, and should you find yourself driving through, take your time and look at the landscape, stop and support our local businesses. This is my community, my friends and my family.
With Love, Erin
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bohemian rhapsody A conversation with ZEN and BUNNI WYLDEFLOWER at their Topanga home, which is an eclectic mix of their artistic influences. INTERVIEW BY ERIN CASTELLINO PHOTOGRAPHY BY BUNNI WYLDEFLOWER
Erin: I’m sitting with Zen, Bunni and Alchemy Wyldeflower. Tell me about your backgrounds. Bunni: I’m from the Chicago area, but I visited California when I was 12 and I saw the Pacific Ocean for the very first time. Growing up in Chicago, you’d see sunny days and tanned people on TV, and then I came here and it was real! I went to the beach and made a pact to move here someday. I filled a little bottle with ocean water, sand and some shells, which I still have. I made that my reality in 1991 when I went to school at Brooks Institute of Photography in Ventura. After graduating, I began shooting for various magazines and met Zen on a photoshoot back in 1999. We didn’t see eye to eye but somehow became best friends after we dropped our egos. A few years later, something happened in the stars and we began dating, (I love this guy!), and we’ve been together ever since. We started creating together once we moved to Topanga and began a multitude of products and projects under the ZenBunni brand. Zen: I’m originally from Kyoto, Japan and we moved as a family to Hawaii, which was a magical place to be as a kid. But then we moved to freezing San Francisco, a far cry from being barefoot every day, to bundling up and riding a bus everywhere. As I matured, I realized how beautiful it was and began to get cultured in this new cityscape. I eventually landed in Los Angeles in 1993 and went to University without much thought of staying here. However, I started a clothing company out of college as a thesis and it actually worked. My brand took me on a seven-year journey around the world, and during that time, I met Bunni and we’ve been together for 20 years now. Alchemy: Well, I’m a Topanga kid...I was born and raised here and I love it! E: How did you end up in Topanga?
Opposite Top left: Zen and Alchemy with their little dog ‘Goji’ floating in the atrium on their Vintage Indian Toran wrapped swing that they picked up in Rajasthan.
B: We had both been in LA for over 10 years at this point, and I had a wolf named Joe, and I really wanted him to be among nature. We heard that Topanga was a tiny town with tons of nature, so we took a snoop. The first house we looked at was so magical, we rented it. That was 16 years ago. We lived in several rentals for over 10 years, looking for just the right spot. Then we came across this place and we bought this property almost 6 years ago.
Below Left: The celestial library. The stained glass skylights of each of the family’s astrological signs were made by local Topanga artist, Megan Geer.
Z: We were both ready to leave the big city and immerse ourselves in nature but we still wanted access to what we’ve built in LA, and Topanga Canyon was able to give us both. However, it wasn’t very youthful, we were one of the first young couples to move up here in 2003 and there wasn’t much of a community. We decided that we’d create our vibe up here and opened up The ZenBunni Gallery in 2005 but most of our clients came from the city or abroad.
Below Right: Alchemy doing a little ballet demonstration on their reclaimed parque and walnut inlaid floors that were salvaged from a Santa Barbara home.
B: We would do installations every season where we would make original art, clothing, and jewelry within a theme and find antiques that matched, so the gallery looked completely
Top Right: Starting the day at the dining room table with their favorite hand carved antique walnut French chairs.
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/ TO PA N G A
Top: Zen and Alchemy in their whimiscal kitchen. The antique Oâ€™Keefe and Merritt stove was restored and custom painted with sunshine yellow details. The island was originally a 1920s car sales showroom table from Ohio. To evoke a bright and cheerful kitchen, the family brought in vintage starburst tiles from Morocco. The steeple exhaust fan cover was crafted from an old church fragment found on the east coast. Center: Bunni enjoying the light in the master bathroom which is covered in tigerwood to look like the cabin of an old ship. Below: Bunni in her studio assessing some new prints. A large, antique corbel from Georgia acts as a decorative divider between the studios.
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different throughout the year. It was very special. Z: During this time we woke up to the idea of living a natural lifestyle. We learned about eating organic, using clean products on our bodies, what “superfoods” were, and we started consuming Chinese and ayurvedic herbs...our lives dramatically changed. That’s how we got into making biodynamic chocolate. E: Do you think that moving to Topanga inspired your aesthetic? Z: It definitely did. It was a life-changing move. It had brought me back to self and slowed me down a lot so I could think through my decisions and truly enjoy being creative again. With each passing year, we’ve become more present and connected to Mother Nature. We became more earthinspired, using natural dyes and playing with recycled materials in our creations. B: We started getting into organic architecture and interior design. The family that owned our first two rentals had an amazing, whimsical wabi-sabi style that we hadn’t seen before, and we didn’t see that kind of freedom in anything we saw in the city. E: When I see architecture such as this, where you’re using different elements from different periods of time with all these fragments, it feels like an American farmhouse but with an original perspective. I think it’s one of the unique things about Topanga that the majority of people here are collectors. It’s nice to see the collections that move up here and how they are interpreted. It’s almost like a project that’s never finished. B: Welcome to the life of two artists.
Z: It’s very much a living ever-evolving artistic expression of ourselves. When your home is a giant art project, it teaches you patience. We’re not so scheduled and rushed as we were in the big city. We’re on what people up here literally call ‘Topanga Time’. E: Would you live anywhere else? B: Sure. I’m down for whatever. We love diversity and traveling. As long as I’m with my family, I’m happy anywhere. The Tao of Pooh says, ‘wherever you go, there you are’. Z: We love this place. But we can see ourselves living in multiple spots throughout the year. E. Tell me about all your shops and how interior design came into your world. B: Our shops were like treasure chests, magically and meticulously curated, and people would come in and ask if we could make their homes look like them. Z: So we started ZenBunni H.O.M.E (Healthy, Organic, Magical Environment). We would not only fill their home with magical pieces but would consider the health of those that lived in the space by introducing “non-toxic” building materials, incorporating a bit of feng shui and vastu and treating the home as a living extension of themselves. Our distinct vision became known as ‘ZenBunni Style’. E: Oh for sure. Definitely, you guys have a characteristic that’s unique and easy to spot because no one is doing what you’re doing. Bunni, I know it’s very exciting to get back into photography after 14 years of all things ZenBunni. B: It’s amazing to be back in the darkroom. I’ve only shoot medium format film with my Hasselblad, and now almost 30 years later, I’m still doing it this way. It’s become a rarity
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to shoot and print yourself. Although, any camera I look through makes me happy. E. Zen, what are you doing right now? Z: I’ve started Zen The Wyldeflower Design Co. where I do Creative Consulting with a focus on brands that are sustainable and care about Mother Nature. I’m currently helping a few ‘clean beauty’ brands, a fashion house, and there’s the possibility for some restaurant and music projects up ahead. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 22 years and have done everything from the inception and creation of an idea, to formulating, wholesaling and retailing – from the design side and as an owner. So I have a diverse array of skills that I now can share. Along with the unique aesthetic discernment that I’ve cultivated, I’m able to help manifest a company’s vision with a wide perspective. I spent half my life ‘working hard’ and now I can ‘play softly’, and have a wonderful impact on great companies that need a little or a lot of help telling their story. E: I’d like to talk about Alchemy. Z: Yes, she’s our favorite creation and the love of our lives!!! B: We had been together for over ten years. However, we were always busy with our brand and our shops. I was turning 40 and thought this could be the end of my window so I mentioned this to Zen and he smiled. “Of course, let’s try”...We tried once! Our midwives said when that happens, the child is just “waiting” for us. Z: That’s what it felt like when she arrived. We felt complete. I didn’t know what it meant to be human until I had a child and have my heart expand to realms I had no idea existed. B: We had just moved out of a large home and
/ TO PA N G A
shout out to @poemtv for sharing your equipment with me.
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“Living in a city can be very draining. You can get very disconnected, and I think everyone who’s moving up here just wants to reconnect to themselves and reconnect to nature.”
Top: Alchemy gazing at the landscape and the nearby Santa Monica Mountain range, in preparation for a future family hike. Below: The pictureque sunset view from the main yard signals the end of another perfect day.
into a tiny space to downsize after visiting India and gaining a lot of perspective, a few months before getting pregnant. It ended up being a blessing, as we were able to truly nest in our little Topanga treehouse. We were away from the hustle and bustle and able to raise Alchemy peacefully in nature. Z: I loved that we were able to commune with the trees and listen to the birds while taking Alchemy for walks and we feel very fortunate that this was where her roots were taking shape. B: Once we had Alchemy, my folks said you have to buy a property as you’ll outgrow this place very soon, so we started to look more seriously as we had passively been looking for years. We were very picky and nothing resonated till we stepped foot on this place and we both knew instantly. The view took our breath away and the land spoke to us. It was meant to be. Z: There was a lot to do and this became the perfect playground for not only Alchemy to grow and learn, but for us as well. Remodeling this home has been a five-year labor of love and continues to be so. We watched Alchemy grow into a little lady during the process and witness her ideas and style, as she gave us tons of input on our home. She’s the child of two artists and it’s quite obvious. Alchemy has a great eye and she knows what she likes. B: We’ve treated her as an equal from the beginning and we include her on just about every decision we make. So now it’s a family of three artists, and this house is a true expression of the three of us.
ZenBunni zenbunni.com @bunniwyldeflower
E: Yes, a family of artists but you are also trailblazers so you’re not doing things in the normal fashion of pushing things through. I would say more intentionally moving, rather than forcing the project to be complete by a certain date.
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B: Yes true. There were foundational issues that we needed to address first, but then we treated every room, wall and floor as a potential canvas. Hence it taking over 5 years, and it’s still far from done. Z: Yes, we do a little, then life pulls us a different direction, then we come back and finish another project. It’s very organic. But I do believe we will complete most of the inside this year..then get back to the outside. E: What are your thoughts on the community here? B: It’s amazing! I think right after Alchemy was born, a lot of younger people and liked minded couples started moving up here. I think the serious migration started in 2010 and it’s been nonstop since then. Z: Everyone moves up here almost for the same reason. These people have developed a certain level of consciousness where they’re tapping into their self-love and understanding, and have realized that living in a city can be very draining. You can get very disconnected, and I think everyone who’s moving up here just wants to reconnect to themselves and to nature. It’s been very beautiful and easy to have camaraderie and friendships because most of us are all on the same page when it comes to that. From alternative schooling to living an organic lifestyle; it’s been a tight-knit, open-minded community. Many of the parents up here have seen kids grow up indoors, looking at a screen, and have moved up here to show them that the best show in town is Mother Nature. B: We love it up here and love our friends. It feels like it’s only getting better with time.
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THE GOOD LIFE Extensively traveled Director and Photographer, PETER KAGAN, finds a place in Topanga where his food store, CANYON GOURMET, nourishes the local community. INTERVIEW BY ERIN CASTELLINO PHOTOGRAPHY BY BUNNI WYLDEFLOWER
Peter Kagan and Argus
Opposite Peter Kagan in front of his store on a bench that he made. Canyon Gourmet presents a selection of cheeses, organic Farmer’s Market produce, fresh bread from Gjusta Bakery and Topanga Table, and a selection of housewares curated by Peter.
Erin: I’d love to know about your background and what brought you to Topanga. Peter: I came to Topanga on a motorcycle. At the time I had a little cabin in the woods in Connecticut, where I grew up, and thought that’s where I was going to go when LA and I were done with each other. The trees are bigger up here in Topanga, as they are on the east coast, and something just clicked in me. I had been directing commercials for years, and the process was getting to me. I was able to harness a sense of contentment here that had escaped me before and it’s been amazing. It’s really changed me. I went to a traditional prep school in Connecticut and then to Rhode Island School of Design where I experimented with videotape, back in the late 70s, often with the intent of rephotographing the sequences on a black and white monitor. When I moved to New York I showed those video-sequences to Arthur Elgort looking for a job. He had video equipment of his own and happily, he saw the potential in having me around. That began our collaboration. While Arthur shot pictures I’d be loading all of his cameras, making sure the readings were correct, and then I’d shoot video. I was only twenty-four going on all these fantastic trips with Vogue. Artie shot the stills, I shot video and then later at night, we’d all meet up at the hotel with, for example, Polly Mellen, the legendary editor of Vogue. I’d set it up in the hotel room and all the models and Arthur would gather round to see what I had shot that day. It was crazy pressure. No editing. Straight out of camera to the Vogue audience. I hadn’t set out to make narrative stories, my first objective was to get stills to re-photograph on a monitor with Arthur. I began to edit in-camera knowing I was gonna have to show the raw dailies that night. Great training, I learned how to pace it, get coverage, and make it entertaining without going into an editing room. Then shooting video for designers became a thing, and I got jobs working for Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake, and Karl Lagerfeld, who just recently passed away. He had hired me to film him preparing his collection in ’84. I was waiting in a hotel for Karl to summon me to his atelier when Arthur’s agent in Paris called me and asked if I wanted to shoot another little video. It was for a small, very cool magazine called Jill, kinda like the Paris version of that famous little New York magazine, Details. The budget was four-hundred dollars. I shot it on super 8 and brought it back to New York. I never got the $400, but an editor at Condé Nast saw that little film. It was three minutes long, all black and white. She said, “I’m gonna send this to California”. Soon afterwards, Warner Brothers Records called and said, “That is what rock videos should look like, here’s sixty-five-thousand dollars, go back to Paris and do exactly the same film over again but there’s this band in London and they’re going to meet you there.” The name of the band was Scritti Politti. The song was Perfect Way. It was the first music video I ever did – the same camera, same super 8 same everything, shot in Paris. And it started from there. I made a lot of music videos – Duran Duran and Steve Winwood and started a great run. This was when MTV was just getting figured out. As young art students, there was nothing that you could do with a three-minute film, until music videos. Suddenly, MTV created a whole new format of three or four-minutes for young people with a camera and an idea. It was an amazing time. Around that time advertisers asked, “If the scene looks just like a Duran Duran video except everyone’s holding my beer, it’s a commercial, right?” I didn’t even realize that directing commercials was a job, but it found me and I made a lot of them. At first for Barney’s NY, then Nike, then the beer, cosmetics, cars, and so on. The thing about commercial production is that there are all of these meetings. The casting the scouting,
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TOPA N GA
Peter Kaganâ€™s home in Topanga is a traditional Spanish house built in 1936, with much of the original architectural detail intact and spectacular mountain views from the backyard.
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Topanga. It’s made me appreciate the energy of Los Angeles in a whole different way, having the big trees to return to. Once I resolved to live up here I still needed to make dinner and wanted to know where the olive oil and Parmesan was going to be in Topanga. There was a little shop in town that was closing because the owner was expecting a child and felt she could not do both. I asked a bunch of questions, she offered to sell me the business. When I showed the paperwork to an accountant, he said, “Why would you do this? It’s a disaster.” But when I was a kid I worked in my stepfather’s clothing store in Hartford, and somehow that experience, and my passion for food gave me the audacity to think I could actually run a specialty food shop, so I decided to do it. E: And how’s it going now? Well, it’s a very different business today from the one I bought. meetings and more meetings and conference calls. At the end of the day, you have nothing but notes, and then those days get strung together and before you know it you have twenty days in a row and you might have a plan for a shoot, but little to show as an artist. Finally, I’d be in one of those endless meetings, and I’d start to drift off, thinking about what I wanted to make for dinner. This was something tangible that I could accomplish. I could still get the creative satisfaction of making something, and present it to an interested audience - my family. So cooking became important. My stepbrother Peter Miller figures into this because he’s a formidable businessman, a bookstore owner, and he cooked for his family. I saw this guy making dinner, it was just not a thing you often saw. But even wearing an apron, chopping and washing up, there was nothing emasculating about it. And I just started cooking pretty much every night. My sons now have a different relationship with food. There’s a very unique pressure on boys and men, this unending ambition that men are programmed to have. Contentment is dangerous, it’s at odds with ambition. Men are taught to keep toiling and busting their ass and accumulating. There is no resting on laurels. There is never enough, sadly. I think a lot of people in L.A. have a boarding pass in their back pocket. There’s transience here, people come to make their dough and they want to leave and go somewhere real again. I thought I was going be back in the woods in Connecticut but instead, I found
E: For me, it’s a staple. I go there every day. There’s something about being able to walk into a neighborhood store that I think is really important. Watching it grow, getting the meat counter and the grain. E: What brought on the grain? There’s a guy named Roe Sie. He has a grain store called King’s Roost in Silverlake. It’s an urban homestead with a room full of grain and he’s got those mills, and he’s basically a grain nerd. I learned everything I know about grains from him. He put a grain mill in the store, set us up with a few types of grain and the whole grain department is his brainchild. I’m just sort figuring out if there’s an appetite in the community for freshly milled flour. And now I want to bake because we have that wheatberry. You know? It’s inspiring. Being one of the very few stores in Los Angles that offer freshly milled flour is an accomplishment in itself. It’s very difficult to make a presentation that is distinctly different than what any other store has. I attend food shows to discover products that no one else has, like the line of ferments; fermented vegetables that we have now. We get it from Santa Barbara, and none of our competition carries that. Every day is a David and Goliath story, and we have to find our strength in our distinctions. E: Do you have any vision for Canyon Gourmet, going forward? Topanga has very specific challenges with respect to its infrastructure. There’s a reason why there’s so little food in Topanga and it’s
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our beautiful creek. It used to have steelhead trout spawning upstream but doesn’t anymore. It rules our regulatory systems, septics and that stuff. It’s really hard to do anything in Topanga. I really want to put a kitchen in the back of the store and I have everything I need – the space, the plan. That alone would be a be change. As consumers, we are conditioned to expect a supermarket to have everything all of the time. It’s not natural, and it’s bad for the planet. Everything about the sense of entitlement to cherries in the winter is actually really bad. I assume people will be happy with what’s in season, but that’s just not the way they operate. I only buy locally-grown produce at the Farmer’s Market, which limits me to what’s in season but I just find it’s better and it’s easier on the planet. Canyon Gourmet is a tiny specialty food store with limited space, so I’ll have one or two fruits that I love. The best things I taste at the Farmer’s Market are what I bring up the hill and that’s our fruit of the week. You know, I don’t have everything. Sometimes I don’t have eggs. People complain; what kind of store doesn’t have eggs? My answer is – a store that’s waiting for the chickens to lay them. Then they get on Yelp. I mean that’s so crazy, but it happens. E: What do you love most about this community? The Community. It’s the greatest thing that Topanga has given me, and it’s really taken me by surprise. Because when I took that business on and the accountant told me I was crazy, I became obsessed with the math problem of it. How am I going to change these graphs and spreadsheets? What took me by surprise was this whole other thing; the village and the people. It’s an amazing thing to be a proprietor in a small town. All of a sudden you start to see other people’s children grow up. Before you know it they’re in college and you realize that just like a tender Dad that you are, you start to appreciate the greater Family in the place that you live. Earlier I was talking about ambition, being a man feeding his own children - well, that story has a whole other resonance now. It’s one thing to be a man and go out and kill the beast and drag it home to your own family, it’s your duty to make that happen and try to do it with some grace. But now my kids have grown up, slaying their own beasts, yet I have this whole other group of people to provide for, to nourish, and being successful at that feels quite good.
Canyon Gourmet canyongourmet.com
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A natural way Former fashion model, SIBYL BUCK and guitarist CHRIS TRAYNOR, exchanged their New York loft for a home amidst nature. INTERVIEW BY ERIN CASTELLINO PHOTOGRAPHY BY BUNNI WYLDEFLOWER
Erin: Chris, have you always been a musician and can you tell me about your current music projects? C: I was always interested in music, but I didn’t really start playing guitar until I was about 15. Once I began playing I just jumped out of the gate and started jamming with friends and writing music. I got my first record deal shortly after when I was 17. E: Wow, how did that happen? C: I was lucky. The first record I ever made was with friends and they were connected to a bunch of people in the N.Y. hardcore scene. So basically my friends did the bulk of the networking and I reaped the benefits because I was good at guitar. Through those connections I met other musicians in NY and I got a major label recording deal and publishing contract when I was 19 years old. I remember not being allowed into the front entrance of bars I was playing on my first tour because I was too young to drink. My first band to put out a major label was a post hardcore band called Orange 9mm. I wouldn’t consider us a rap rock band, but we were one of the earlier bands in the scene that eventually became Nu Metal. After that I played in one of my favorite childhood bands called Helmet which was a progressive hard rock band. Through my connections with Helmet and their then producer Dave Sardy I got connected with Bush in about 2002, and I’ve been playing with them ever since.
Top: Sibyl relaxing on shearling with pyrite spheres Below: Chris with his Gibson SG and his dog Django. Opposite Top: Lotus Belle nestled on the hillside under a live oak. Below: A place for restorative healing and essential breathwork
It wasn’t by design that I got a record deal. I had no concept of being able to make money from music back then. Really my early successes in music had to do with the people I was playing with. There was already a built in hype for my band Orange9mm; so much so that one of our first shows was sold out with a line of people still waiting down the block to get in. There were a bunch of record executives that couldn’t get in and saw this huge line of kids wanting to get into our show and I guess they felt like they were missing out on something which resulted in a huge bidding war for my band. The whole thing was a surprise to me. I was just psyched to have a record in Bleecker Bob’s record store. I couldn’t believe that someone wanted to put my music out, no less give me money to do it. Music wasn’t something I thought about monetizing. So
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everything was kind of by accident. There are so many talented musicians in my life who put out records, make music and tour and have a hard time making a living at it so I’m of the mindset that there is a great deal of luck in my success. I’m thankful for it. E: 17 years is a long timeto be in a band. There are not many that stick around that long. What do you think is the glue that keeps you together? C: My main connection in the band is with Gavin, and we have a great chemistry, we are like brothers but we’ve been pretty respectful to each other the whole time. No matter how we are feeling about each other during the day, when we set foot on stage, after a couple of songs everything fades away and we sink into the music together. I can’t ever hold a grudge or a bad feeling against him when we are playing music together, it’s just good vibes. Whereas my twenties went by in a blur, I drank a lot, I really try to pay attention to my daily life on tour these days. Not a lot of people get to play music in a rock band for as long as I have, so now I feel like every opportunity to go on tour and play music for people is a gift from God saying, “How can you do it better? How can you bring more of who you are into this, instead of losing yourself?” E: I guess after 17 years of evolving, the music has to shift with you. C: The music doesn’t have to change for me to change. Some of the songs I play are twenty five years old. E: Is it the way you play that’s different? No. It’s how I am that’s different. I used to go on tour and kind of lose myself into whatever was going on; it’s a great way to form bad habits. People and community have a gravity. No matter how much of a center of gravity we think we have as individuals, when we go into another group we pick up their habits pretty fast. Now I spend a lot of time by myself, just trying to keep my daily practices going regardless of what conditions I find myself in. So every time I go out into the world it’s an opportunity to play. I’m not out there for me. I have fun playing the shows but I’m there for the people who are paying to see the band play it’s songs. It’s a great responsibility and I want to honor that. They are paying money to see this band. They have an
of creating a kind of kindergarten for adults, a place where I would live with friends, and have that same kind of support for self-exploration that kids have entering a good pre-school. With various creative studios to be inspired to connect to your authentic self; a place to gather and have meals and celebrate; to get free of the whole home story, and be whoever it is we are here to be. I thought of the young school environment, and thought there’s really something to that nurturance. Being with your friends and just kind of finding who you are and what a joyful experience that is, which we sort of trade in for something more formal and distant and disconnected from each other. I was always really yearning for a family and community that I could be with and be authentic with, since I was a kid. So when I was modeling, that vision was my muse and purpose. Anytime anyone asked me what I was going to do after modeling, I would always describe this dream place with creative studios and a community living together. I think I intuited that it would be an environment that would heal me, and the others who lived there, and I think to a certain extent that it did. Before Brooklyn, I was in Paris for about five years, and before that I spent two years in art school at SUNY Purchase. Purchase totally blew the doors off of my self-perception and my perception of the world. I had a lot of expansive experiences there, and really started to find myself, so by the time I left to model in Paris, my plan was to pull myself up from subsistence living to some kind of life of potential, filled with at least resource and inspiration, if not luxury.
expectation and I want to honor that. I want it to be great every time for the fans. E: Do you have a personal practice – before any show do you have something that you do all the time? C: Yes, it’s very regimented. I spend a lot of time by myself now. Usually on the bus. It’s not very rock and roll but I usually take a half hour to rest in silence about an hour and a half before my stage time. About an hour before I play I make myself a cup of coffee and I play guitar. I don’t play the songs I’m about to perform. I play to forget where I am, so that I’m just playing and I’m engaged with music and creativity. I usually ask somebody to come get me 15 minutes before I go on stage because I just want to forget about the anxiety that I’m about to perform, and hopefully go on stage in the most natural and open hearted state that I can. It doesn’t work all the time, but when it works it’s magic.
E: Sibyl, what did you do before moving to Topanga? What do you do now, and what inspired you to move here? S: Well, just when we moved to Topanga, I had been playing bass in a band for three years, for Joseph Arthur – the Lonely Astronauts. I had been doing all kinds of things in New York City. I had a clothing line called Urban Mary with one of my best friends, Lindsay Jones. We would have clothing swaps at the loft where Chris and I were living. Whatever people didn’t take we cut up to make into new clothes and we sold them at little markets on the street. Also, a big piece of what happened in that chapter, before going out on tour, was renovating the loft where Chris and I got together, and where our daughter Puma’s early years were spent. While I was modeling the dream of this communal loft vision was what kept me sane and gave me a center of gravity within the fashion whirlwind. I had a vision
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After about a month in Paris, even though things were going well, I started to winder what I was doing. It was so incongruous with who I’d become over those two years in school, I started to have something like an identity crisis. I saw that if I just worked for money, I would lose my soul. Either I had to stop doing it altogether, or I had to figure out a different reason to do it. That’s when I decided to dye my hair back to the punk rock red I had in high school, even though I figured it would limit my career, at least I would be able to keep working and feel good about it. I felt that if I had that red hair, and wore my body piercings visibly- if I just came out like that, it would be me saying to people who were weird like me ‘you have a place in this higher institution of beauty, this closed door VIP section of beauty’. Basically I wanted to occupy fashion. I wanted to stand there as myself and say, ‘we can do this too’. It’s just fashion, but as a young person, super optimistic, with a dreamfueled heart, this was how it could work for me. It made my work purposeful. I realized then that your whole life is your work of art, and when you start compromising - either for money, or how you think it should be, or how someone else
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Reclaimed local hardwood, repurposed antique windows and salvaged subway tile adorn this modest, yet modern, kitchen.
Puma Rose and her cat â€˜Big Bearâ€™. Sun shade dreamcatcher facing out into the Santa Monica Mountain range. Creekside hammock
An altar of family photos adorned by a collection of curios. A series of architectural and music theory books arranged between vintage Topanga treasures.
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thinks it should be, you start to lose the heart of it, and the whole essence that makes life really worth living. E: Did the fashion designers that you were working for embrace this new concept? S: Those were tumultuous times because later, I did dreadlocks and I also shaved my head. I remember specifically, meeting with Anna Sui when I put dreadlocks in my hair. I had long, bright, Coke-can colored red hair and she said, “Marc Jacobs and I were going to book you and now we’re not. You should just take them out.” And I said, “I’m sorry, I really want to do your show but I have learned that if I don’t follow my intuition and my own sense of what’s right for me, then it doesn’t matter how much success or money I have, I’ll be miserable. So, I’m going to keep them, and I hope you’ll book me in the future when I don’t feel like I need to have them. I had a meeting with Odile Sarron, who was the head editor of Elle, when I first had red hair, and she said, “You’re ruining your career. If a photographer works with a model and likes that model, he wants to be able to book her for a beauty campaign and his editorial. No one’s going to have you in a beauty campaign in the pages of Elle with that hair.” Later, I was on two covers of Elle with that hair and I booked a perfume campaign, which is like the don of all modeling jobs. So I felt really vindicated. Again, it was luck. It was unexpected, and I really thought it was going to kill my career. I lacked understanding that arriving at red hair and piercings was from the culture around me. It was part of the moment. With rave and grunge going on, a lot of people identified with the way I was looking. This was 1993 and it was when Kate Moss took over. Previously it had been Cindy Crawford, more of the supermodel and luxury, and Linda Evangelista talking about 10,000 dollars a day. Then Kate Moss came in with this grunge look that was the antithesis of all that. No boobs, no hips, not much meat on her bones, with a stark and authentic presentation. I think that also people were relating with - it was a little bit of hard times right then. This sort of punk aesthetic that had filtered up through grunge and into rave, it always was a blue-collar movement. It was a movement from the streets, not a suburban thing - it became it - but it was from inner city kids being punks. E: How did you get from there and now into teaching yoga? S: I had made a commitment to myself that when I was twenty-five I would start to exit fashion. Even though that was at the top of my career, I knew that was my intention, so I knew I needed to walk away, even though it was so hard to do. It was another instance of changing identity, and I needed support. I had been hearing a lot about
yoga but had never tried it, and it happened that I lived a block away from Jivamukti in Manhattan. I went and it felt so good I started going every day, getting up at six every morning. The whole culture of the place blew my mind, and gave me a new center so I wasn’t just leaving fashion with nowhere else to go. I was with a lot of their more dogmatic positions that I am not anymore, especially around diet. I had to leave that behind for my own well-being, but I am so grateful for how yoga gave me balance in a time of transition. About ten years later, when I got to Topanga, I didn’t have a job. We moved because Chris’ work was here and I didn’t have anything to stay for in New York. The band that I was in wasn’t a long term thing. I wanted to get Puma into nature so I was willing to leave, knowing that Chris could support us if we came here. It was a challenging transition, challenging for my identity, which I kind of wanted. Leaving the Brooklyn loft, where we were sort of mom and pop, it was like go out and be kids again in the world have an adventure. When I got here, it was the beginning of the huge stock market crash in the fall of 2008. It affected us because it changed Chris’ tour schedule, changed everybody’s sense of abundance. As self-employed people, you really depend on everybody feeling that they’ve got enough to buy whatever it is that you’re offering. So I started doing yoga every day at home, using a podcast from Yoga to The People. They were a donation based studio in Manhattan, and they put out a free podcast. To manage this new transition, I turned to yoga once again, praying for some insight into what direction I could go in career-wise in our new California life. I was really confused about what I could do with my resume; a little school lots of entertainment industry experience, but without going back to a lot of expensive schooling, I wasn’t sure what I could envision myself being able to do for work that I would love. I practiced with the podcast every day, and at the end of 30 days, I realized I would love to teach yoga! Yoga teacher training was not that much time or money, and then I would be able to share something that had helped me through a number of tough times in my life. Work with purpose that I could believe in. When I started the training is when it hit me it wasn’t just job training, but that I would actually have to be a yogi to be a teacher. It was a real coming back to some things I hadn’t though about in a while, and that was actually so helpful in making the transition and finding my new self. To have some structure around that was really helpful. I did some training in Ayurveda, the Science of Life, and a lot of training in therapeutic yoga and restorative yoga and everything about yoga that
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brings people closer to their wholeness. I started to move away from types of yoga that I felt were making things hard on my body, and which also had a cultural, aesthetic sort of presentation that I thought might actually be making people feel bad. Kind of like fashion, just sort of exclusive like yoga looks like this – and more toward, you might have six blankets on you, nobody can see your body; any form can do this yoga. That’s the yoga that I like to teach. E: Well, I have been a benefactor of your teaching and I love the way you teach. I also did a very strict yoga for twenty years and injured my body in all kinds of ways. But I’ve been in your classes for a couple of years and happy to say I’ve never been injured. In fact, I did yoga teacher training too and restorative was always where it’s at, and I didn’t know how to find a restorative teacher. So it’s like the people in Topanga search for all the same things – how to remain creative and restore our bodies and souls through nature and community. Besides teaching, is there anything else that you are passionate about? S: Yes, I still have the same vision about people living in a community and having access to creative spaces, as well as everything they need for their bodies, like growing food and building shelter and making clothes and taking care of themselves. It’s a huge vision that’s been with me my whole life. I realized recently that it probably results from being lonely as a kid, that I just want to build a non-lonely life. I see more and more that Topanga is actually that place I‘ve always dreamed of. A place to live with my friends where we can be creative and authentic and help each other heal. Where many of us are dedicated to learning the basic skills and ancient wisdom of growing food and tending the land and our bodies which have almost been lost. There’s an incredible amount of congruence here about what people value. I’ve been working with different modalities outside of yoga these days, but all focused on the concept that we have wholeness at the center of us, and it’s just the pressure from outside, and the trauma from outside that’s trapping it, but that we can free it. Living in Topanga almost feels like living in that authentic center away from the pressures from outside. I know so many friends here in Topanga whose life work is to support the healing of others, and I feel so grateful to be here, and to be a part of this vibrant, healing, eccentric and authentic community.
/ TO PA N G A
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only love is real Through his furniture designs MATTHEW MORGAN straddles the line between art and practicality. INTERVIEW BY ERIN CASTELLINO PHOTOGRAPHY BY BUNNI WYLDEFLOWER
Matthew, tell us about your background. I was born in Missouri, moved to Florida, then Georgia, then North Carolina, then Orange County, then Michigan. I moved to NY City the minute I finished college and now I live in Topanga, CA. My undergrad in Art was at Hope College in Michigan and I did my MFA at Bard College in upstate New York. When did you know you wanted to be an artist? I wasn’t aware of Art until I was in college. I kind of randomly took a sculpture class and had a weird moment of realization during our first assignment. I was able to merge a deeply gratifying mechanical/hand intelligence with an intellectual exploration. Discovering that synthesis was transformative. I also quickly realized I could make anything. I had always been a mediocre student so finding this other way of thinking and communicating was a big relief. I really didn’t have any obvious avenues… Around this time I also started writing music and playing shows in various bands. There was this ‘aha’ moment when I realized how good it feels to have these different intelligences working at once, informing one another. I went to college in the ‘90s and there were a lot of things happening in the art world that we were completely unaware of. We were looking at Ab Ex and looking at Dada and Surrealism as if that was contemporary art. The program I was in wasn’t a cutting edge art program at all but I think it was actually good for me. It was occurring at the speed of the students natural drive. Then I went to grad school in New York and caught up as much as I could with what was actually happening in the contemporary art world.
Top: Milling a piece of walnut. Below: A unique floor lamp of white and ebonized resin.
Opposite Top: Matthew Morgan in his studio, sitting in a custom chair he designed and made. Hand dyed silk fabric by Awave Awake. Below (left to right): Four chairs designed and made by Matthew Night Snail – ebonized resin with hand cut wood veneer seat The Professor – Bleached and lime washed walnut Sun and Moon – Walnut chair with hand dyed silk fabric by Awave Awake Distant Vibes – pink lacquer on walnut.
What do you do after you left college? I moved to New York City and I managed a design gallery that was owned by Ingo Maurer, the lighting designer. It was the first time I’d actually seen design as something other than purely functional. It just blew my mind. Through working there, I met so many cool people. I met the designer Gaetano Pesce, Ron Arad, Murray Moss who had the store Moss, Kim Hastreiter from Paper Magazine. I met all these talented thinkers, funny people with wild intelligences. It was endlessly entertaining. And then it stopped being so entertaining and I left. Maybe I was becoming less entertainable. And did you always stay in the art world? I didn’t. I got burned out on it a bit. It didn’t change that much from 2000 to 2012 when I left but I guess I changed enough that it didn’t make sense to continue to participate in it in the way I had been. When I got to California, I met this fashion-craft community that was making ceramics, jewelry, clothes, stained glass – no one was doing ceramics in New York; we were all making really heady intellectual stuff, or so we thought. The new community I found was alarmingly kind and generous. I first landed in Pioneer Town, near Joshua Tree. I was only in Pioneer Town for six months then found Topanga and moved. Topanga seems to attract a unique quality of people. I would say, in the broadest form, most people that live in Topanga are some sort of outsider. Yes. Lots of outsiders – which often leads to interesting expressions. There are a lot of visual artists, musicians, and healers up here. There’s a lot of interesting expression here that I think the kind of people who want a little more of a hermetic or solitary life will end up doing. So yes, it’s definitely one of those special, weird places. Its in the mountains and it’s on the ocean which is just a wild energy dynamic that we deal with every day. We’re surrounded by all this powerful natural energy – it’s just a very dynamic place which I think
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Above The Analyst – a daybed in oak, bronze and crushed velvet upholstery, designed by Matthew Morgan. Left Top: Matthew’s daughter, Cookie, on her tire swing at home, in front of the Peach Portal Etagére which Matthew designed and built. Left Bottom: Matthew’s bedroom. A unique hand cut marquetry wall piece in various wood vaneers and the Tropical Tantrum Etagére in birch, with glass shelves and marble base, were both designed and made by Matthew.
does attract a kind of person that is both open and expressive. There’s certainly a correlation between the wild spirit and wild nature. Yes, we have all the elements but I think that the nature here is unkept. And so there’s something really beautiful about people having property that is not ornamental, but rather surrendering to let nature take its course and to live amongst it. Absolutely. People would probably like to be a lot more ornamental and precious I imagine, but here, you’re forced to just accept what happens. Flooding, drought – it’s very extreme, and I think a certain kind of person actually likes those limitations. Its humbling, and inspiring and transformative to live in such a dramatic natural environment. I wanted to take a two way approach in talking about what you create. It seems like you don’t
have limitations because you have a way of saying anything can be done. Usually that holds people back and they stay within a genre. I see that you don’t really have a genre but rather an expression or an extension of yourself. At the same time, there’s a very practical side to you that just gets things built and completed. So there is the art side of you that has a beautiful furniture and pieces to use in the home and then there’s the other side of you which is the builder of homes. When did you decide to start building your own furniture? I hadn’t made any furniture before moving to Topanga. My wife, Carly, and I moved from a tiny place in Brooklyn where we left all our found furniture. We moved into a big house and we had no furniture but I had a fabrication shop because I was making things for other artists
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or galleries, so I tried to make a chair. Then I started making more and more furniture. Life shifted dramatically and I just let that go for a while. I continued to make things but I didn’t do it through the business that had organically began growing. Only recently have I felt like I want to revitalize that business. I like the name ‘Only Love Is Real’ which is what the business had been called. Recently, I made a commitment to myself to only do projects that interest me. For awhile I was taking whatever came. Once I made that commitment, the interesting projects and clients started to come. I wanted to do architecture, landscape design and interior design, all of which I’m doing now. As I refine my practice, I realize that at its core, it is relationship driven. I’m attracting the kind of client that’s interested in the same qualities
“The most interesting thing to me is the love that is shared between client and creator, then the product itself ends up becoming this beautiful little baby, a little love child.”
that I am interested in cultivating in myself: integrity, openness, honesty, love. That shared commitment has led to some really wonderful relationships and and that makes the art have a different quality. The art just exists as this beautiful ornament on top of a deep connection between client and creator. And then the product ends up becoming this beautiful little baby, a little love child. I have love children everywhere… So how did you come up with a name ‘Only Love Is Real’? Right before my daughter was born, I read a book called Only Love Is Real by Brian Weiss. He is a psychologist whose clients started having past life regression experiences in therapy sessions. As I read the book, I felt this strange connection to my unborn daughter. I don’t know if I believe in reincarnation to be honest. It’s an interesting idea that makes life a little weirder and more interesting, but, I truly felt we had lived various lives together. Now that she’s in my life, as an embodied spirit, she’s my best friend. She’s about to turn five. She’s the person I really care about the most in the world. There is something so familiar and easy about the experience of being with her. So that phrase came into my life through the book, and the more I thought about it, in moments of conflict or moments of doubt, it really resonated. Any inquiry that I do inevitably leads me back to the unreality of everything my mind or body tell me if it leads me away from love. It appears that all that is happening to us is an inner drive that attempts to connect and be whole. I think of that drive as a drive towards love. The heart’s natural expression appears to
be open. It wants to be open and to connect to everything and everyone around it, and when it meets an obstacle there’s pain or suffering. So maybe all that’s happening is love’s natural desire to express and to connect. Only love is real. Everything else appears and disappears. And so that phrase helps to remind me in moments of doubt or fear that I’ve embraced illusion. I’ve embraced something that’s not quite real but feels real and is unnecessarily ruining my day! You have such a unique vision that’s playful and wildly imaginative. I think if we can have that in our furnishings, we’re better for it. Yes it has to be usable and functional, but why not make it funny and fun as well? Well funny and fun is usable and functional. Things operate on so many different levels and in so many different ways. It would be nice if it was comfortable, but if it’s not…. I constantly remind myself that what I make will affect people and how they feel. I have the chance to create a vibration, a frequency in someone’s home – where they live, where they’re trying to have a family, where they’re trying to feel good. If I can add something to their life that truly comes from a place of love, I like to imagine that it’s going to affect them in a positive way. Tell me more about your daughter Cookie. She is such an amazing child, also with a very unique expression. It’s funny I don’t know who’s raising whom. I think we’re equally raising one another. She’s really smart and interested in everything. When she was about to turn 2 years old, I came into her room and she was standing up in her crib, completely naked and just patting her belly. She looked at me and said,
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“Daddy I have a body. I have a tiny, tiny body.” It was this wild moment of watching an unembodied spirit become embodied, or the realization of an embodied mind, I should say. There have been so many times like that when she’s said something incredibly profound about the nature of the way things appear to be. She inadvertently explained a part of the theory of special relativity for me one day. We were talking about Galileo and I was making models with my hands about the way the solar system works - that the sun’s in the center and everything moves around it. And she said, “Wow, so we’re actually moving really fast through space.” I said, “Yes, we are moving thousands of miles an hour through space. And she said, “but I guess since the earth is moving at the same speed we don’t feel it.” She’s a four year old! What you like about living in Topanga? Almost everything, to be honest. I like how quiet it is. How beautiful it is. I really like the community of friends I have up here. We could use another restaurant… I find that Topanga is one of those places which either you embrace and it holds space for you, or it chews you up and spits you out. It’s kind of done both to me at different points over the last seven years. I did leave briefly after a moment of crisis but then I came right back. Yes, I love it here. I’ll probably be here for awhile… until it spits me out again. Matthew is available for commissions. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Only Love Is Real madebythemorgans.com
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All of the herbs and products are organic and ethically sourced, many made locally right in the canyon.
New blends and formulas are mixed each week as customers share their health needs â€“ the sleep tea is named after Claire, a local who suffered from insomnia.
Top: Wild Love Apothecary is in the center of Topanga, tucked in a charming courtyard with other local shops, nextdoor to the post office. Green witches and herbalists certified by The Gaia School of Healing work at the Apothecary, sharing about the healing herbs and demystifying what a green witch truly is.
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Marysiaâ€™s daughter, Flora, holds her favorite sweet Licorice root.
the green witch Herbalist, gardener, teacher and healer, MARYSIA MIERNOWSKA, combines her expertise to create wellness products at her WILD LOVE APOTHECARY in Topanga. INTERVIEW BY ERIN CASTELLINO PHOTOGRAPHY BY BUNNI WYLDEFLOWER
What is your background, Marysia? While I have a multicultural and diverse educational background, a common thread in my life has been a passion for understanding how people and places relate – and how to heal some of these relationships. Perhaps it was moving from Poland to the US as a young child and growing up in various languages and cultures that opened my curiosity to how we relate as humans to each other and the natural world. This inquiry has led me to travel and study internationally. It brought me into the field of architecture and intentional community design, landscape design, biodynamic farming, permaculture, activism, herbalism, shamanism and ultimately back to the folk healing ways taught to me by my Polish grandmothers.
Marysia Miernowska at Wild Love Apothecary
Upon leaving Northern California and my work with the Cohousing company in Nevada City, I taught Spanish and Art at a ski academy in Northern Vermont, where I lived in the woods and had more plants then people to talk to. It was then, in a period of seeking to deepen my relationship to forests I lived in, that I found and began studying with Sage Maurer at The Gaia School of Healing & Earth Education in Vermont. My apprenticeship brought me back to my own lineage of herbal medicine and opened me up to deeply healing, soulful and magickal relationships with the Earth and plant spirits. When I moved to Los Angeles a few years later, I fell in love with the Santa Monica mountains and began creating sacred gardens for retreat centers and private homes, with the intention of creating beautiful sanctuaries for people to connect with the plants and with nature in a way that enhanced the vitality of the drought ridden ecosystem. While I loved working with my hands in the soil, I noticed a great need in LA to create more bridges of connection between the land and the people. I was seeing that our mountains were struggling and asking for loving relationship with people that would tend the wild; and many of the people I was helping as an herbalist were suffering from a lack of nourishment, groundedness and rooted connection to the Earth. I opened the California Branch of The Gaia School of Healing & Earth Education in 2014 and have been training herbalists and leading people of all backgrounds on the 10 month Sacred Plant Medicine Apprenticeship ever since. Last year, I partnered with Jesse Eidsness, a graduate of The Gaia School, to open Wild Love Apothecary. We shared the dream of creating a space with opportunities for the people of Los Angeles to connect to the medicine and magick of our mountains and to the nourishing tradition of herbal healing. We wanted to bring “the village witch” back to the center of town, and to bring back the old pharmacy where folks could come in and talk to a trained herbalist and receive the remedies they needed; to support them through anything ranging from a respiratory infection to grief weighing on their heart. It has been such a blessing to open the apothecary and to offer this to our human and plant communities. Tell us more about what you do. I am the director and California Branch of The Gaia School of Healing and Earth Education. I take students on a 10 month long Sacred Plant Medicine Apprenticeship that is both a course in medical herbalism, as well as a spiritual journey deepening relationship to Self, Spirit and the Earth. I also offer Regenerative Earth Action Plans for property owners, farms and estates who seek to develop a sustainable relationship with the land they steward. This work is such a passion of mine, since I see first hand how we can garden in a way that builds soil, creates a soil sponge, holds water, feeds the small water cycle, sequesters carbon and actually is shown to help reverse climate change and heal the drought ridden land. I teach some of these practices with Linda Gibbs, a Gaia graduate, permaculturist and Kiss the Ground soil speaker for our Gaia Rhythms course – we are passionate at doing what we can do educate the people of Southern California about the difference they can
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This page (top to bottom)
Top: Stone, sheep, clay, twigs from the garden tied with prayers – Marysia’s home has elements of nature, artifacts from her travels, and her tools for ritual and teaching.
Marysia burns blessing herbs and resins, filling her home with the sacred smoke of plants.
Below Left: Snowflake paper cuttings and other impermanent folk creations decorate the home and connect her with the seasons. Below Right: Natural light and fresh air are invited into the creation of Marysia’s sacred spaces.
Nature is the greatest artist; pinecones, mushrooms, and meaningful stones bring the spirit of places dear to her heart into her home. Like any good witch, Marysia and Flora have a magickal cat named Cosmos.
make in their own backyard. Finally, I also formulate products for Wild Love Apothecary as well as for other companies seeking to share plant medicine. One of my favorite formulations is “Awaken” by Foria – a botanical aphrodisiac lube that has been quite popular and healing. Wild Love Apothecary is exceptional because any time you go there, you can speak to a trained herbalist and ask for support in connecting to the right plants for you. We work with herbs medicinally and spiritually, and all of our products are highly curated, made by herbalists we know, with loving intention, from ethically wildcrafted plants or organically and biodynamically grown herbs. As the master herbalist of Wild Love Apothecary, I also formulate our special tea blends and healing salves. For instance, Pheonix Rising, is a delicious tea that was created in response to the wildfires and how they effected us emotionally and physically. It contains plants that relax the nervous system, heal the lungs, open up the airways, and calm the mind. It also tastes delicious and folks love to enjoy it in the evening and as a digestive tea. The Cleopatra Face Serum is probably one of our most famous and beloved products – it is a beautifying botanical face serum that regenerates skin cells, and has potent anti-inflamatory, antiaging, soothing properties. We could not keep it stocked on shelves as there is truly nothing quite like it – and just recently we opened our online store and it is now available for purchase online. As a formulator, there is nothing quite as rewarding as having returning customers who have experienced the remarkable healing effects of the plants. From sun spots that finally disappear with the Cleopatra face serum, or chronic back pain that melts away with our hemp healing salve, it is so rewarding to show people how healing nature is – and to work to create a relationship where people will fall in love with the Earth and these plants, and work to protect them. With that intention in mind, we also offer a diverse range of events and workshops.
Wild Love Apothecary wildloveapothecary.com
When did you move to Topanga and why? I moved to Topanga a few years ago, from Santa Monica. I was deeply craving being immersed in nature, and even though I liked Santa Monica, my soul is fed by the mountains, by the darkness and silence of the night, by wild places
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that I can enter just by stepping outside of my door.. and by the presence of my plant friends, of course. I often can’t believe that this is Los Angeles – it feels like a world away. In your home, what are the things you surround yourself with? What are your prized possessions? I love a clean, spacious home flooded in natural light, fresh air and scents of nature. I love the wood floors, my stone fire place and the natural materials that ground me and make me feel held in my home’s embrace. I love my sheep rug, my Moroccan floor couch and the various altars in my home that contain sacred stones, statues, shells, bowls of earth, sand or elements from meaningful moments. These altars hold an energy of what is meaningful to me, or what I am working on spiritually. I love my bookshelves, my apothecary and pantry full of herbs – my sacred tools are a reach away. I often burn blessing herbs and sacred smokes to clear the air and always keep fresh flowers. My home is like my body – it contains my spirit and keeps me and my daughter safe and nourished, so we can go out into our lives and be expansive from a grounded and inspired place inside. What are your thoughts on the community in Topanga? I love Topanga so much and adore my community here. My daughter attends Topanga Elementary and I feel so fortunate to send her to a great public school, with so many wonderful kids and parents. When she is older, I hope she will attend an amazing nature connection based school in the canyon called Manzanita. The apothecary is weaving together the Gaia graduates and our community – both local and from all over LA and I warmly invite you all to come visit us and connect to the loving culture of non judgment and Earth based herbalism we are cultivating. I have many dear friends who live in the canyon and it makes my heart so happy to be able to meet them for lunch at Topanga Living Cafe, or have business meetings while hiking! Corazon Performing Arts next door to the apothecary hosts some of the best world music in a beautiful, intimate space. And even though I am so busy, I am also aware that there are so many incredible events and creative people that I do not even know about – Topanga is like that, full of hidden gems, tucked into all nooks of our canyon.
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dramatic flair True to her theatrical heritage, MEGAN GEER-ALSOP, creates unique ceramics and stained glass from her home studio in Topanga. BY ERIN CASTELLINO PHOTOGRAPHY BY BUNNI WYLDEFLOWER
Erin: Megan, you were born and raised in Topanga. There are not many people I know who were born and raised here. How far back does your family go? Megan: My grandparents found this place in the 1950s, when my grandfather was blacklisted. After the McCarthy hearings, he just wanted a place where he could go and garden and get away from all the madness. They moved up to this property that they had bought, in Topanga, and he started a vegetable garden. They used to sell vegetables and they built a little outdoor theater. That grew into the beautiful outdoor theater that is known as Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum today, and my mom has been running that space for the last 40 years. [www.theatricum.com] E: Your grandfather was Will Geer. M: Most people know him from The Waltons, in his later career. He did a lot of work in New York and on Broadway when he was young. But then it all got put on hold because of that horrible time period. Later, once his career got going again, things shifted. E: Were your parents raised here? M: They moved around a lot. My mom’s early acting career was in New York and then she was in Minneapolis at the Guthrie Theater, when that theater was starting. My dad’s from the East Coast. He moved out here and they met at the Theatricum.
Above and Opposite top: Megan Geer-Alsop in her ‘treehouse’ art studio. Opposite below: Megan has a series of stained glass instrument lightboxes in which she takes old broken guitars and transforms them into ambient light sculptures.
E: So you actually are part of Topanga history? Theatricum is no longer a small thing, and it holds other things besides theater. There’s a great bread maker there whom I love, Patrice Winters – The Angel in Your Kitchen. Are you involved with Theatricum at all? M: I did a lot of acting there as I was growing up in my early 20s, but then I decided I wanted to be a visual artist instead. I wanted to just concentrate on that. My mom pulls me in sometimes to work on set design and I do a lot of sign painting there. Sometimes costumes, mask work and stuff like that. It’s really fun. E: Did you go to a college for visual arts? M: I went to Santa Monica College. They had a really nice arts program and I ended up staying there and volunteering in the ceramics department for three years after I was done, just because it was free studio space and buying a kiln and a wheel was very expensive. It was great space to be able to work and learn. E: Can you tell us a little bit about the arts that you’re involved in now? M: Mostly, I do ceramics and stained glass installations for people’s homes, and freestanding big windows. I also have a series of stained glass instrument lightboxes that I love to make. I find old broken or discarded guitars and turn them into ambient light sculptures. It’s a fun way to weave my love of music into my art. E: Are you commissioned mostly by people and how do people find you? M: Mostly commissions and word of mouth. I’ve done a few pieces for stores that then people ask and just pass on my information. Instagram has been great to get images of my stuff seen and have more people find me.
Megan Geer-Alsop megancreations.com @megan_creations
E: I found you through Bunni because I saw the stained glass windows in her house that you had done. They are incredible. M: Thank you! Bunni had one of those windows down at her gallery where I used to also sell the stained glass lightbox guitars.
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Above: Megan and Chad in their home. Cosmo the wonder dog. Top Left: The backyard of Meganâ€™s home has a beautiful view of the Topanga mountains and easy access to her art studio. Center Left: The yard where Megan works, (see kiln on the right), and the kids play. Bottom Left: The living room, where the family gathers, was converted from a 3-car garage.
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E: The property that we’re sitting in is so beautiful. Can you tell me about it? M: My mom moved back to Topanga after years of acting and moving around. She found this house 50 or 55 years ago. She said she was walking down the street, saw the For Sale sign and came in and looked around the house. It was all closed up. She said the walls were all painted dark purple and it was kind of weird looking inside but she just got the best feeling from the property. She actually sat in the backyard and fell asleep. She woke up and said, ‘This is my place. I need to live here’. E: You were raised in this house, and then you left? M: I didn’t leave for long. I did quite a few years of traveling. I would go on six month long trips and then I would come home, and just do that over and over again for a few years. Then I decided I wanted to get more into art and was doing some theater at the Theatricum too. E: Tell me about your family. M: We have two children, 7 and 9 years old. My daughter goes to Manzanita, a little beautiful woodland school in Topanga, and my son goes to Topanga Elementary, which is a great public school. My husband Chad runs an after-school musical theater arts program for kids in Santa Monica. It’s called Theater 31. He lived in Manhattan Beach when we first met. Lucky for me he was excited to move up here. E: And would you ever want to live anywhere else? M: We talk about it. Chad’s business is doing well in Santa Monica and it’s hard to move away. I love having my kids close to my parents. It’s really a special time for them to be together. Sometimes, I think I would like to pack up and move farther north. I’m not a big city person and I love Los Angeles, but I wouldn’t mind living where the pace of life is even a little slower. The traffic just gets to be a little much. Lucky for me I work at home so I don’t really have to deal with it. E: It’s interesting. Every person that I’ve interviewed and all the people that I’ve met in Topanga are in some way an artist, and I love that about this community. I feel like we have something that most communities don’t, which is a common thread of not only what people do for a living but actually who they are in the world. I find most people are living in their life’s path or their dharma, more here than anywhere. M: Yes. And there’s a real connection to nature too, which I think is a big draw. A lot of people with a similar sensibility gravitate towards that, wanting to feel connected to nature and appreciative of the nature around us, wanting to take care of it and be in it. E: It’s true. Yesterday was the first day during the rain I actually could drive down Topanga Canyon without it being closed. I’ve never driven in the rain down the canyon because it always has rock slides. There are so many beautiful waterfalls, and this morning I drove Red Rock and the river through there is just jamming. M: It’s just so beautiful and so unique. There are several microclimates here and it is really amazing. That you go Red Rock and you feel like you’re on another planet, it’s so beautiful. Santa Maria is a whole other area and it’s gorgeous at the top of Tuna too. E: Well, I feel like the star seed that you came down on, landed right here on this perfect perch. I’m so happy to share with people what you do. It’s so special and it’s so beautiful, and you’re such a beautiful soul and you can feel it in everything you do. I really welcome people to check you out and support their local artist.
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VENICE stories STORIES AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAYE BUCHBINDER
W Photo: Joey Beck
hen I first moved to Venice, I didn’t surf locally. Instead, I would pack up the Prius with my 9ft board and putt up to Malibu or down back towards the South Bay, rather than spend precious summer minutes trying to find parking when I returned. I’m not sure if it was the soul-crushing hunt for a spot or the allure of the ocean a few steps in front of my apartment that brought me down to surf breakwater, but that was when my whole life in Venice shifted.
It began with swimming the buoy for the lifeguard boat out, south of breakwater, in summer. Out at sea, sitting just a quarter mile from land, Venice looks like a quiet beach town. There are no huge buildings. You can’t hear the street performers or music blasting from the storefronts. You look in and it feels like classic California coastline. Floating out there felt like a therapeutic removal, almost a sort of sensory deprivation juxtaposed with the overload of the boardwalk, and even the beach. The crowd at the Breakwater in Venice is daunting. For someone with the personality of a puppy, any smile or light conversation warmed me. I began to see familiar faces, talk to the same people and see them out of the water as well. The people that draw towards each other are the non-aggressive, the regulars who aren’t going to paddle battle for waves, the ones who smile and say good morning. It’s as though there’s a silent understanding that we aren’t there to be the best. We are there for something else – healing, inspiration or just respite. It could be that the creatives are the ones who use the regular dip as part of the process. It could be something to do with their flexible schedules. It could be that, like me, some work all day in tiny studios without social contact – so regardless of wave quality, it feels good to be bobbing up and down next to other people.
Photo: Jim Hatem
Venice itself attracts people attracted to people. Furthermore, the ones at breakwater are obviously not trying to hide from crowds or find the best waves. They’re there for something else. For me, it’s a barefoot walk down my street as the neighborhood wakes up, and the sanity that the ocean brings. – Jaye
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VE N I C E
paul t DJ, PAUL T, makes retro looking surfboards for the every day surfer. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAYE BUCHBINDER
aul is the nice guy in the lineup. For someone styled out in a beautiful, simple wetsuit gliding atop what looks to be a retro shaped board in a funky color, he greets you with a subdued warmth. Not that the local community in Venice is tough, it can be, but Paul seems to exude a subtle sense of comfort – a welcoming respect that is more uncommon from local surfers out there.
This respect is not an unintentional thing. Growing up in deep Los Angeles, he believes in an attention to the micro-cultures of the different neighborhoods. As he puts it, “I wouldn’t go to Brentwood and be full skater.” Venice Breakwater is no different to him: a place where he is known by all the locals but still treats the space as if he was a guest. You get the sense that he is both of the area and also of his own world. His home is very much the same. Located in the back of a quiet lot, you climb a series of white stairs up to a well lit, simple apartment. This allows for a big green patch of grass in the yard between, something that seems to be very rare in the packed neighborhoods of the West side. It’s here Paul is removed into his own piece of LA. He lives upstairs and keeps boards for his company Attacca, as well as wetsuits for his company Farenheit Celsius. There is something about being a surfer and making your own gear. In a market saturated with overengineered equipment, Paul has a new perspective of high end gear for an every day surfer. As he puts it, ‘not performance boards’. He also does not consider himself a ‘surfer’– a term charged nowadays with having a constant pulse on all of the Los Angeles Surfline cams, knowledge of the WSL rankings, and desire to be the best guy out there. That’s not it at all. It’s about feeling good, being active, doing something. Maybe this is why Paul stands out from the others. It’s not a paddle battle to get the wave of the day for him. The same was with his music career. (Although he also would probably prefer it wasn’t called a career.) Growing up with house music and DJing when not everyone had two iPads and a turntable, he focused on playing music his crowds hadn’t heard, always attune to the energy of the audience. Now, he thinks this is played out. Another commonality with the life he has created is an aversion to group think. It makes sense that when it feels everyone is turning a closer eye on Abbott Kinney and Rose, Paul is turning away. He’s watched the city grow and change, and now has his own corner of the Westside. Uninterrupted by bird scooters or wavestorm surfboards, Paul works on his own creations.
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Surfboards: attacca.us Wetsuits: fahrenheitcelsius.com Clothing: sarcasticclothing.com
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VE N I C E
karen marina-masumoto Filmmaker, KAREN MARINA-MASUMOTO, conveys her love of skating and surfing through the action films she edits and helps to produce. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAYE BUCHBINDER
orn and raised in Santa Monica, Karen has grown up alongside a changing Westside. Overall a beach girl, Karen is a regular out in Venice – a jaw-droppingly graceful surfer, paddling out from ankle biter to overhead days out at the Pier to Breakwater. Most noticeably, findable during those summer sunset sessions where the sun does not go down.
She translates this board ability to her skating too – making a community out of friends that ‘shred’ of all sorts. It makes sense – she’s working towards changing the dynamic in the way action sports frame women: by putting women behind the lens also. It works into her day to day working on production and editing at Ryot, working on topics largely of social injustice around the world. She describes it as a lifelong love for cameras building into the career of working with them and her love of action sport. Currently, women are in action sports and absolutely crushing it, but the film is all so polished. Imagine the shots of women on the beach, women gracefully cruising down huge waves. Karen wants to bring the punk rock back: the outtakes of wipeouts, failed, but
attempted drop-ins, half aerials, not landed, typically saved for the men. It takes a cool girl to do this. It’s refreshing to see someone who both believes in retro overalls and in the true heart of westside LA. Karen notes that Venice has changed but doesn’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. While it will always be tough for struggling artists to stay in an area with rapidly increasing housing costs, there is something to be said for growth and development. It would not be an artistic neighborhood without people pushing towards the compelling edges. For her own home, it’s a simple thing: keep everything simple but make it feel like home. Keep the linens white, the furniture simple and make sure you have photos of family on the wall. Her own parents driving that mentality: making it always feel like home and cozy, but embracing the simple beach lifestyle. Growing up in a west LA home, it’s hard to leave. And when you do leave, it’s hard not to come back. Karen came back, and rather than harboring the nostalgia for the way Venice used to be, she’s bought in to the heart of the creative culture, bringing her own calm energy and creative skill to fuel the legacy of artistic community that continues to thrive beneath the cover of an ever-hanging neighborhood.
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sense of re-purpose From his workshop behind their house. Architect, KEITH FALLEN, renovated his Venice home, stripping the walls down to the studs and repurposing the wood to make doors and furniture. BY JAYE BUCHBINDER PHOTOGRAPHY BY JESSICA ISAAC
VE N I C E
The bedside reading lamps were originally made by Keith for their wedding as lights that were attached to the clawfoot tub beer coolers. The wood wall is made from reclaimed lath from the house. The steel window is from a building material salvage yard in downtown LA.
Top: The steel windows are from a building material salvage yard in downtown LA. The floating box shelf was made from leftover wood from the house.
Below: The opening into the kitchen was cut out as a kind of ‘eye’ into the room. The banquette and table are constructed from off-cuts from the kitchen millwork. The table legs are pipes from a railing on one of Keith’s previous projects.
he home that Keith and Bryce Fallen have built is a distinct reflection of their priorities, namely, family and community with close second of purpose-driven design. Nestled between Venice blvd and Washington, in what you may assume to be an urban area- the Fallen home serves itself as a physical representation of a good neighbor. Low fences, see-through hedges and a home that is so open the back garden is visible from the front. The different zones of the home are both discrete and connected due to the slatted wooden sliding doors used to section off rooms. The replacement of a conventional hinge with slatted wood doors, allows a removal of barriers and makes the home feel all interconnected, so the rooms for his two small daughters, Poppy and Lake, feel open for the ocean breeze to move lightly through. The kind of rooms you want to wake up in on a Sunday. The wood for the doors was saved from jobs Keith, an architect and builder, previously worked on. This saving of a materials is another theme. Over the master bed are two lights saved from their wedding to accompany the benches and bars outdoors, also recouped from decorating their wedding. Keith is a hands-on guy, and saves up material in his workshop in the back, to work on new projects. This is the true mindset of sustainability. A wholehearted love for re-use, re-build, and restore.
Keith Fallen, Architect
An unnarrated walk through would have no idea how much of Keith’s home was handdone or constructed, and yet so much is taken from their wedding, old jobs, alleys, given to him from neighbors. The cohesiveness he has created with such a diversity of sources is aspirational and representative of what it truly means to build your own home. The home itself has evolved with the welcoming of Lake, and a few years later, Poppy. Keith built a play house in the back that is something from a dream, with a maze for golf balls, a PVC pipe telescope lookout, and a window to open and close. The doors in Lake’s room have stenciled numbers for an order of operations for opening, and closet
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Top and Center: Keith made the shelves to display Lake’s books, games, crafts, and toys – many of which came from Bryce’s online kid’s shop, lakemillie.com. The sliding doors are made from wood re-used from the house and the sliding tracks were salvaged from a previous project. Bottom: Exposed ceiling joists are original to the house. Wood wall made from reclaimed lath from house. Bryce compiled the hanging art and objects from art fairs, photographs, cookbooks, and family mementos. Opposite Page Top row: In the hallway, the gallery wall has exposed studs
that are re-used from the house and function as shelves for photos and books. The record albums are from both Bryce’s family and Keith’s family collections.
Left: The shower in the Master Bath is made from simple CMU blocks and an exposed brass shower head. A skylight above and doors that open onto the secluded deck allow for an outdoor shower experience. Center: The clawfoot tub was salvaged from a Venice apartment building and first re-used at their wedding as a beer tub, here now as their kids bath. The walls are various types of wood reclaimed from the original house. Right: Keith made all the kitchen cabinets and the butcher block countertop from Alder wood, reminding him of his years in Colorado, where he worked with that wood in construction as a framer and finish carpenter. The rolling pins displayed above the chalkboard are Bryce’s grandmothers. Bottom Row
Left: Bryce bought the painting at the Santa Monica flea market. Bryce and Keith made the light fixture. The dining table is made from 1,480 individual blocks that were off-cuts from the kitchen millwork. Center: Bryce bought the mirror at a thrift shop in Ojai. Keith made the floating record player shelf from left over wood from the house. Right: The side view mirror was taken off of Keith’s van when he left it behind in Colorado.
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shelves her height so she can pick out her own clothes. They’ve installed a little (unconnected) door lock on the wall so that Lake and Poppy have something to play with before they can actually reach the knob. Neither Keith nor Bryce started out originally in Southern California, and their home reflects that they do not take the weather for granted. There are outdoor spaces for lunches in the front, a long picnic table for dinner in the back, and a little nook outside their master bedroom shaded by vines. The window in the front of their house that Keith made, rests upon a single pivot point, so with a push, it slowly swings open, connecting the neighborhood with their living room. There is so much love and pride built into the walls of a home that you have built yourself, and when you are walking through Keith’s home, it is impossible not to feel it. The rearview mirror on the wall, the kitchen table, the little barbeque outside: everything has its own story, holds its own value. Keith and Bryce’s home will continue to evolve with new materials from new projects, but the foundation of warmth and openness will hold true, and continue to pour energy into the neighborhood around them.
Top left: The new front dutch door was made from left over off-cuts of cedar that Keith used to make the window and door frames. The mailbox is a bonderized wall scupper left over from one of his previous projects. Top right: The steel window was from a salvage yard and Keith built the protruding cedar frame around it. Center: Jaye and Keith in conversation. The pivot door was constructed from the original fixed window in the same location, to connect the living room with the exterior dining room. Bottom: The garden hose holder is made from a wheel bought at a yard sale.
Keith Fallen, Architect kfWORKSHOP.com
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Clockwise from top left: Keith made the overhead trellis to connect the house to the garage and provide a means of shade, lighting, and later, swings for the kids. The dutch door was made by cutting 2 old doors in half and using both glass panels for more light to the back yard. Keith’s mother shipped them the tree by the back door when they bought the house. It is a subtle reminder of the time they have been here. Lake’s clubhouse is made from a variety of leftover materials. The landscaping around the yard is an eclectic collection of plants from past projects, neighbors, and trades on Craigslist. The lights are made from wheels bought at a yard sale. The picnic table and benches are from wood kept from their wedding. Seeing the smoke stained wall is a constant reminder to have more fires and use the space out of doors. The outdoor counter areas are made from simple CMU blocks and concrete tops. The sink is made from cutting their original kitchen sink in half and it is now used as a beer cooler. Keith finds local tree stumps and split his own firewood, which is important to him. Keith made the secluded little deck off their bedroom and the overhead trellis. Lake’s swing is made from left over redwood. The chimnea was purchased off Craigslist.
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PHOTO G RA P H Y
JASON CORDOVA: la sundays All of these photos were taken on a Sunday. All were taken in Los Angeles. Everything is real, nothing is scripted or staged. Every single Sunday, no matter what, the streets of Los Angeles come alive. All facets of car and motorcycle culture come together and explode onto the streets in an absolutely incredible display of sight, sound, energy and community. The typical media portrayal of these cultures is one of outlaws, violence, gang banging, chaos etc. but... Every Sunday, for years now, I’ve witnessed people of all races, ages and affiliations unite together peacefully. All in the name of this car culture. Which in the end, becomes way larger than cars. It becomes, in my opinion, exactly what the works needs more of at this very moment. Filled with laughter, hope, love, mischief and yes, a touch of chaos. It’s a living, breathing massive ball of energy that bounces all over the city of Los Angeles. Every single week. Even when the police have done almost everything in their power to completely eradicate it. It’s Sunday again. Every week.
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Lady Gaga, Paparazzi
PHOTO G RA P H Y
What is your background? I take great pride in being a true native of Los Angeles, my family goes back 4+ generations right here on the west side of LA. I’ve lived in other cities at different points in my life, and while I treasure the experiences, I’ve always come home. I do have a regular 9-5ish job, which I actually enjoy, but photography remains my passion. How did you get into photography? I’ve always been creative in one form or another since childhood. Drawing and painting, graffiti, design, music etc... but about 6 years ago, I picked up a camera again and it was completely different than all the previous times I’d taken a photograph. It felt more natural, like that “damn, this is what I should have been doing all along,” sort of feeling. What are your inspirations? I’m constantly inspired by my city. Not just physically but in the feelings. Los Angeles is filled with so much energy and has so many different moods. I take long drives every week, I call them “doing my rounds”... I drive from the Westside through Mid City into Hollywood, through DTLA, and all through South Central then back home. I just drive slow, taking side streets. Watching and absorbing the different moods and how everything changes block by block. It’s not necessarily pretty, but it’s beautiful to me. Sometimes I’ll get out and shoot or talk to people... most times I just drive and feel lucky to be able to live here. And then obviously my Sundays. LA comes alive on a Sunday like no place else. Check my photos if you don’t believe me. Lol I’m inspired by quite a few other photographers, artists and musicians. Bruce Davidson, Estevan Oriol, Simon Davidson, Mike Miller, my bro Sig from Atl, Glen Friedman, Charles Peterson, John Coltrane, fugazi, e40, built to spill, Chaz, ELP, defer, LA graffiti... too many to name. What camera/lens do you like to use? I’ve been using my Canon 5dmk3 and my Sigma art 24mm combo for years. If it ain’t broke.... ? Do you want your photography to be seen as art or do you want to get across a message? Both. I try to tell a story in every photo. I try to transfer the energy I feel out there into the photo. Hopefully, the audience can feel it. I’ll keep the message and what it means to me, up for interpretation though. What do you enjoy about photography? The ability to capture a moment in time, through my eyes, and to present and preserve it forever. To share my perspective on these moments and hopefully give the viewer something cool as fuck to look at. I’m lucky to have been given the keys to be able to document a part of LA most people don’t get to see. I never take that for granted and I work to protect that privilege. All these years later, I’m just as excited for each Sunday as ever. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? As long as I’m alive, spending time with my kids and my friends and family, I’m good. And if we’re lucky, the Sundays will still be cracking. Jason Cordova Ig: @jsun217 lasundays.com
THRIVE LA: tiny houses, big idea Lawyer and entrepreneur, PERRY GOLDBERG and Project Lead, ELI LIPMEN, aim to relieve the issue of homelessness in LA County through building a tiny home, self-sufficient community in Antelope Valley. BY KELLY WOYAN
Perry Goldberg, Founder, Thrive LA.
n February 2015, lawyer and entrepreneur Perry Goldberg saw a tiny house for sale on the side of the road while driving through Ojai, and had an epiphany, what if he could build tiny houses in Los Angeles – would people come? “I had seen tiny houses on tv, but they were shown in the context of people choosing to downsize so they could have lower costs and the freedom to enjoy life,” says Perry. The idea of tiny house living got Perry thinking about the homeless and housing crisis in one of the nation’s most expensive cities, right here in Los Angeles.
“It has worsened substantially and steadily over time despite increasing levels of attention and resources. I believe that the well-intentioned efforts to address the problem are backfiring. Providing vouchers to potential renters to enable them to live in urban areas increases the number of people vying for housing at any particular level of rent, driving up the price. It’s the law of supply and demand,” says Perry. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1993, Perry moved to LA and began to establish his work and family roots in the city. In 2013, his non-profit think tank, E. Pluribus University, started working on a project to explore helping military veterans in their re-integration into civilian life, and Perry knew the idea of tiny houses could become a part of the solution to help the vets and others at risk with an affordable solution. “The VA was looking for ideas for what to do with its West LA campus to help homeless veterans and the Mayor’s Fund had announced a goal of ending veteran homelessness. (Tiny houses) could provide inexpensive housing for the veterans without the need for a subsidy, and making tiny houses could provide lots of jobs for veterans,” says Perry. That serendipitous drive through the Ojai subsequently sparked the idea of ThriveLA – an acronym that stands for Tiny Houses, Respect, Integration, Veterans Excel in Los Angeles. It’s a non-profit initiative devoted to providing affordable housing solutions, jobs, sustainability and a community to low-income individuals in Los Angeles. After the initial conception, Perry started to research the right formula that could be executed within the parameters of city regulations. Part of that
Eli Lipmen, Project Lead (left) and Perry Goldberg, (right).
research came in the form of visiting a tiny house hotel in Portland, Oregon for inspiration in how this concept could work in LA. There are currently other tiny house model communities successfully operating in Seattle and Eugene, Oregon. In his research Perry realized that in order to provide affordable housing without a subsidy, they needed to build smaller homes on cheap land where jobs could also be created as a source of income. This criteria could only be met in Acton and Antelope Valley in northern LA, where land was abundant and affordable. He also discovered that 60 percent of the homeless in LA live on the streets strictly because of economic reasons, not just because they suffer from substance abuse or mental health issues (though it could be argued that the stress of living on the streets could contribute to developing these types of issues later on). A tiny house community seemed like a viable solution but LA County’s rules and regulations prohibit any sort of tiny house living in the Antelope Valley if one were to use the traditional path to permit. Eli Lipmen joined ThriveLA in 2016 after mutual friends introduced him to Perry, and together they have been working diligently to overcome the regulation problem in the county. His extensive work in environmentalism, economics and communications with organizations varying from the LA Regional Food Bank to working as the vice president for the commission that overseas 99 councils in the city of LA, helps to sharpen ThriveLA’s focus. “Homelessness has entered our consciousness because it has burst out onto the streets of LA. People living in a tent, people pushing around a shopping cart. For most Angelenos, the reason we voted for Measure H in 2017, (the landmark sales tax that was passed to raise $355 million for 10 years to help combat homelessness in LA), was because of the situation we see on the streets. There are 55,000 homeless people here…the vast majority are the people we don’t see every day. We see them, but we don’t know they are homeless,” says Eli. In fact, 60 percent of the homeless living in LA are people who simply don’t have enough money to pay their rent. Underemployment, unemployment and rising rents with no cap are contributing to the city’s growing housing crisis, which in turn is feeding the homeless one as well. Eli says if you don’t address the housing issue, the natural consequence will be more people on the streets. “What engaged me about the ThriveLA
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Above and right: Architects for Society, renderings and floor plan for their Hex House, a 510 sq ft hexagonal modular unit that can connect different structures together. Left: Perry Goldberg surveys the land he purchased in Antelope Valley to build the homeless community.
model was that it is one that addresses the flow of homelessness at its origin. It’s a model with a better and less expensive building design, and a supportive community that provides job opportunities. We want to be able to house people for less than $240 dollars a month (a number based on someone working part time at minimum wage, equalling less than the formulaic 30 percent of their income),” says Eli. Not only are these homes ultra-affordable but they are easy to build using 1/10 of the materials typically needed saving time and resources. They are also designed with style and substance using innovative technologies for space saving needs, such as a fully functional kitchen and bathroom. The materials used to build the tiny houses are earthquake -safe and fireresistant, making them compliant with county codes. In developing this current plan, one that mirrors in a way the historic kibbutz commune-style model that is successful in Israel farming communities, Perry sought to determine why housing was so expensive in LA. Much of it had to do with the high cost of land, since the cost of building a structure is fairly manageable. He found affordable land in northern Los Angeles County in Antelope Valley, an area near Joshua Tree where he purchased 100 acres of land for less than $1000 per acre. The proposed ThriveLA communities will focus on self-sustainablilty by using solar power and growing their own food through vertical and automated gardens. Perry says the goal of the ThriveLA project is to be a “model of sustainability” that will connect new technologies with forward-thinking partnerships. Solutions such as a “shower of the future” which recycles and filters water so it uses 1/10th less with 50 percent higher pressure, and using “trifecta” type plants that are fire resistant, drought tolerant and produce food. “The ultimate vision is to create communities that are largely self-sufficient and resilient, with an incredibly low cost of living for the community members so that they can enjoy their life. Once we demonstrate that modern homesteading can provide jobs and housing here in Los Angeles, we hope that lawmakers will set policies that encourage modern homesteading rather than make it burdensome from a legal perspective,” Perry says.
The plans are in place, the land is purchased and capital is being raised. But the challenge for ThriveLA is facing the complicated rules and regulations of the county. “They have this restriction about building tiny. You can build a million square feet as long as you comply with safety codes, but if you build a single family home under 800 square feet, it’s not allowed under the county’s code,” says Eli. Another restriction the organization is trying to overcome is that the county won’t let them place more than one structure per zoned property. The county will only allow for a structure under 10 square feet and under 22 feet high. ThriveLA rose up to the challenge and, and partnered with Architects for Society (AFS), a notfor-profit organization dedicated to provide dignified and innovative design solutions to disadvantage communities, to develop a hexagonalshaped housing unit designed to connect the different structures together and accommodate up to six, unrelated adults together. The structure is made primarily of rapidly-deployable structural insulated panels (SIP’s), would include about 200 SF per person, and provide a shared kitchen and living area. The design is heavily based on AFS’s copyrighted Hex-House design which won the German Design Council’s 2016 Iconic Award and has been featured in various prominent online publications. Eli says that despite the fact that Los Angeles is facing the worst homeless crisis in the country, antiquated zoning restrictions are a major roadblock to development. In fact, the way the code is written now, goats would be the allowable resident in these structures, not humans. “They allow us to build a nice structure, a geodesic dome, but they won’t permit us to allow someone to actually live in it. But goats can live in it. It falls back on this health and safety thing…that is what we think is kind of crazy and needs to be changed,” says Eli. “After four years of planning and effort, we are at a mature stage where we have the big picture and most of the details fleshed out….sadly the biggest challenge has been trying to navigate LA County’s rules and regulations. I’m most proud that our unique solution will be in compliance and yet provide housing and jobs that many people did not think was possible,” says Perry. ThriveLA is ready to pull the trigger and hopes the county will as well. Once the goats move out, of course.
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ISSUE 1. Summer 2015
t is an impressive feat considering this is only the second house ever built by Noah Walker. “Usually when an architect emerges on the scene, it’s the product of years of hard work and apprenticeship before they get an opportunity to do anything on their own. I think it was a combination of good fortune and preparation that led me to this project,” he says modestly.
“It’s a spectacular property to begin with. Architects are often trained to feel like they have to fix everything and make a loud statement out of the architecture, but when you have a property like this with 130 oak trees on it and a ready natural majesty, your goal is not to overpower it.” The pool is an integral part of the visible part of the property. It goes down to the ridge and basically divides the hill in half. A majestic oak tree which sits on the ridge didn’t hinder the design. Instead, the pool passes through it and captures the reflection of the branches, becoming a major feature, and one of the first things you see when you visit the house. Walker designed the house to maximize the views and created what he calls a private wing and a public wing. The living room, kitchen and dining room are above ground, making the house seem compact but the private wing with the bedrooms, family and reflective spaces runs underground, seemingly invisible.
“The goal is to make a modern architecture that is warmer, which is able to capture light and also to feel more human.” Noah Walker, Walker Workshop
When you open up new offices, do you both go, and do you create the culture to help people understand that it’s not a competitive nature? Mauricio/ We both go. We have an amazing administrative staff that understands the culture. You don’t teach it, you just live it. You live by the culture and we have a handbook that goes out, we have rules that go out to everybody. Everybody that joins our company reads them, signs them. Rule number one: it’s in capital letters – it says ‘No Assholes’. It’s that simple. We start with that and then we go from there. But there are ethics, there’s integrity, there are ways of living and there are ways of being, and we ask everybody to read the book that Tony Hsieh wrote, Delivering Happiness – which is the Zappos philosophy. We ask everybody to read that book. Billy/ What is a really great feeling, is that people feel part of a team and they feel proud to be part of this team. You see people who wear The Agency pin or The Agency hat. I love when I’m just out there seeing that. We were at the airport the other day and saw somebody, not even with The Agency, who was wearing an Agency hat.
“Rule number one: it’s in capital letters. it says ‘No Assholes’.” Mauricio Umansky, The Agency
5 YEARS Excerpts reprinted from the 2015 launch issue.
Focus Media Agency Focus Media Agency was established in 2012 as a multi-level platform, to give voice to the West Los Angeles community businesses and talent which are largely overlooked by traditional media. With a firm emphasis on storytelling, we publish two lifestyle magazines, FOCUS and LA HOME. From our West Hollywood studio, we produce multiple, diverse, online streaming chat shows. We also organize red carpet events across West Los Angeles.
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Our Place: A 75th Anniversary Tribute to Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort Riding the trails and enjoying the hospitality of a family-run ranch in the scenic Santa Ynez Valley. BY CHRISTOPHER DAMON
t’s not every day that I get up at the crack of dawn to ride horses at a guest ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley… My wife and father-in-law ride alongside me, while my mother-in-law and three-year-old daughter follow us in the chuck wagon. The thick morning fog blankets the canyon as we wind through lush hillsides dotted with live oaks and ancient sycamores. It is peaceful and whisper-quiet. Almost surreal. Every so often, our guide points out a piece of history about the land. “The original inhabitants used this land for hunting and gathering acorns. They called the land ‘Nojoqui.’ The Spanish called it ‘Alisal,’ which means a grove of sycamores.”
We eat breakfast under a 300-year-old sycamore. As I sit under the tree’s twisted branches, I glance around at my family — three generations — jovially communing with nature for our first meal of the day. Los Angeles could not feel any more far away. This is just the sort of experience that has made Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort so revered for so long. The 10,000-acre ranch, owned and operated by the same family for 75 years, blends the spirit of the Old West with a resort-like atmosphere right in the heart of wine country and the Danish village of Solvang, only 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara. There are 50 miles of riding trails, a 100-acre spring-fed lake, two 18-hole championship golf courses, tennis courts, pool, spa, Western-themed accommodations and fine dining. It was once a celebrity escape; Ava Gardener, Gregory Peck and Kirk Douglas were past guests. Clark Gable famously married Lady Silvia in Alisal’s old library. Today, the ranch caters primarily to families and couples who tend to return year after year to unplug and unwind, charmed by its rural setting, rustic elegance and adherence to traditions. Even I found some of the ranch’s decades-old customs endearing, like the fact that there are no televisions or telephones in the rooms, and I had to wear a formal jacket to dinner. (I’m more of a flip-flops and shorts kind of guy when I’m on vacation). And there’s something comforting about the consistency of dining at the same table each night. This is all by design, according to Jim Jackson, the third-generation patriarch and chief operating officer of the ranch. “If they’re seated at the same table for every meal during the course of their stay, it’s a way of making our guests feel like the ranch is their place,” he tells me. Since 1943, the Jackson family has owned and operated Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort. Jim took over ranch operations from his father, Palmer Jackson, in 2008. It is very much still a family affair. Although retired, his father and mother are still consulted on investment decisions. As a family, they have thoughtfully stewarded the evolution of the Alisal legacy, established by Jim’s grandfather Charles “Pete” Jackson Jr. Pete was the one who expanded the property from a working cattle ranch into hospitality. He opened the ranch officially in 1946, initially attracting celebrities and people from Los Angeles for an authentic “cowboy experience,” with horseback riding, chuck wagons and rustic accommodations.
Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort alisal.com
However, the celebrity business wasn’t consistent enough to make it a viable revenue stream. Eventually, Pete sought to make it more appealing to families by adding recreational amenities. A swimming pool. Tennis courts. A golf course. His father, who ran the ranch from 1968 to 2008, further expanded this vision over the next 40 years. A public 18-hole golf course was added in 1992. What began as a seasonal Western retreat
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for only 30 guests eventually grew to a year-round resort that could accommodate 200 guests. “The history of the ranch can best be understood by the gradual addition of extra services and activities for the guests as we progressed,” says Jim. “Slowly but surely, my grandfather started adding other elements to the ranch that weren’t just about being a cowboy. The Western experience became part of the experience but it was not the only thing. So we added the lake, with sailboats and canoes, then archery and air rifles, a ropes course and a spa with exercise facilities. We kept looking at all the different ways we could get people interested in not only coming here but returning each year. We especially looked at broadening the appeal by adding activities for families.” I am impressed by the Jacksons’ ability to evolve through the decades. But I’m also impressed by their ability to keep the property in their family and resist the temptation to sell it or corporatize it. Certainly, they had opportunities. But they chose long-term legacy over shortterm profit. This is one of the qualities I love most about Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort. It’s such a rare thing to see a multigenerational family-run company today. For me, it defines the entire Alisal experience. The ranch is a place where you can spend time with your family, creating memories without cell phones and other digital distractions. Rather than having the kids glued to the TV, families can make memories together and spend quality time together. We played Frisbee, hiked and mountain biked. I watched older kids head off to the arts and crafts room to make their creations. Some folks went fishing or played a round a golf. No wonder some of these same families have made Alisal their annual vacation. Some guests have been visiting since the 1950s and 1960s, passing the experience down to their children and grandchildren. They’ve stayed in the same room for 20 or 30 years and know the staff ’s names by heart. This repetition, through tradition, is part of the Alisal legacy and the secret to its staying power for 75 years. As Jim says, “You have to make the experience worth doing more than once. The key to success is getting somebody to come back, not just a second time, but also a third time. People will come back for a long, long time after that — because it’s now part of their family tradition and separate from Alisal’s traditions. They’ve made it their own.” Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort is authentic and unique — unlike any resort or hotel I’ve ever experienced. The property, the land, the activities, the people become a part of your family legacy. It’s one of those rare destinations where you can say, “This is our table. This is our place.” You won’t get that at the Marriott.
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THE RANCH AT LAGUNA BEACH A weekend stay in Laguna Beach is the perfect getaway for a young family. BY MYRA STAFFORD
t’s early Spring in LA and the kids pile into the car, eager with anticipation. The trunk is a demonstration of engineering excellence, expertly packed with beach gear and luggage. It’s road trip time and we’re headed to a pastoral paradise 90 minutes from Los Angeles. The Ranch at Laguna Beach is a magical place which enthralls children and adults alike.
The kids are bursting with fast facts about their adventures ahead, rattling off the countless activities they’ve read about online. Hidden deep within the lush hillside of a beautiful canyon, and across from the beach, is a gorgeous property. It is a rural oasis, surrounded by hillsides and animal trails. Surprisingly easy to miss, its mysterious entrance is down a concealed drive, at the end of which, is a glorious property designed by the architect, Morris Skenderian. We’re greeted by the staff, and the children fly out of the car – summer blockbuster style – eager to experience every activity available. They can’t decide which to do first, cannonballs into the pool, hike the canyon, or surf. They opt for deck games, with a side of fries. My husband checks out the golf course while I register for a hot-stone massage. We’re driven from the main lodge to our spacious two-story, Creekside Two Bedroom Suite. The interiors by Laguna local and owner of Tuvalo Home, Laurie Alter, feel elegant, luxurious and relaxed. The entire property positively vibrates with the cadence of the ocean and the leisurely Laguna lifestyle. The Ranch is a playground for every member of our family. Activities abound, including a kids golf program, kayaking, bird watching, campfire chats, star gazing, bocce ball, yoga, Pilates, cooking classes, and even a junior explorer program. This place certainly has it all. We spend the weekend exploring the property and enjoying the sights of Laguna. The penultimate experience is dining al fresco at the gorgeous Harvest restaurant and concluding the evening with a memorable beach bonfire. The Ranch at Laguna Beach is the ultimate staycation.
The Ranch at Laguna Beach theranchlb.com
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T ECHN O LO GY
CURATED BY JENNA ATCHISON
(Top left to bottom right)
Kamome Ultrasonic Humidifier Aesthetics are on target with this modern humidifier by Japanese designer, Kazuya Koike of Doog Design. The humidifier is in efficient square shape with a funky little chimney top. Its trending colors and minimalist design create a gorgeous look that blends beautifully with any home décor. kamome-d.jp/products/ humidifier/ $tba
NutraMilk Nut Processor Do you love fresh nut milk, but you don’t love the process of having to soak or strain your nuts overnight? NutraMilk’s patented, revolutionary method of making delicious, healthy nut milk from virtually any type of nut makes the once tedious process simple and fast and with no leftover pulp to worry about. thenutramilk.com $449.95 The New Milks recipe book, Dina Cheney, amazon.com/ New-Milks-100-PlusDairy-Free-Recipes/ dp/1501103946 $12
Flow by Plume Labs Flow is a personal air quality monitor that connects to your phone to track pollution levels. With its handy vegan leather strap, you can hook the sensor to your bag. Take it everywhere you go and track the air you breathe on the Flow app to see just how dramatically it changes throughout the day! It’s more important than ever to be mindful of air quality at home and on the go, and Flow empowers you to make informed decisions for your health and your family. plumelabs.com $179
Pink Floyd Division Bell Headphone stand The Division Bell headphone stand will please Pink Floyd fans, designers and art enthusiasts alike. This handmade sculpture with oak base and polyresin head makes this piece of art functional as well as visually appealing. ivanzi.com $169
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Tahoma Somfy Let the sun shine and take control of your window shades and curtains. Somfy places real, condensed, technological control into your hands. Tahoma simplifes the control of multiple home devices. It’s so intuitive to use, why wait? Accessible over the internet, via a computer, smartphone or tablet, with the TaHoma interface, you have touch control of blinds, curtains, lights, electrical equipment, heating, garage doors and gates, etc. somfy.co.uk $339
Kohler Numi Toilet The Numi toilet combines unmatched design and technology to bring you the finest in personal comfort and cleansing. Kohler’s most advanced toilet now offers personalized settings that let you fine-tune every option to your exact preferences, from ambient colored lighting to wireless Bluetooth music sync capability to the heated seat and foot warmer. us.kohler.com $8,000
Mui Wooden Interactive Display
Created to enable distraction-free digital communication, Mui, a natural wood device, serves as a smart home control hub. Using the digital display that appears with a swipe of your hand, you can talk, exchange messages, check the news and weather and control smart devices. When you are done, the display disappears, and Mui looks just like a piece of wood again. Mui doesn’t constantly demand your attention as smartphones do. Mui is a subtle, “calm” device designed to create a relaxing digital environment. mui.jp/#en $999
focustvnetwork.com/lahome The LA HOME online show on Focus TV Network. Natasha Phillips interviews Los Angeles Architects, Interior Designers, Realtors and Developers.
WILLIAM HEFNER Architect
PAUL BRANT WILLIGER Architect
ANTHONY POON Architect
david phoenix Interior Designer
ALEXANDRA LOEW Interior Designer
JIM MAGNI Designer
meg joannides Interior Designer
billy rose Co-founder, The Agency
Marisa zanuck tina perkins Realtors
Host your own talk show - streamed on Focus TV network or on your website. contact us for details about filming your show in our production studio. To submit ideas for content and for sponsorship inquiries please email: email@example.com.
L A N D M A R K
10724 Lower Azusa Rd, El Monte CA 91731 Architect, Theodore Masterson Completed 1961
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