Michaele Simmering & Johann Pauwen
Los Angeles, California
Tell us about your business.
Kalon Studios has been producing American made design with a focus on seamlessly combining a love of contemporary design, simplicity and craft since 2007. Each piece is made by a small team of highly skilled traditional craftspeople in New England using timber sourced from local, sustainably managed forests and the highest quality sustainable finishes and materials. Pieces are designed with flexibility of use, durability and timeless desirability in mind. Our intent is that the user will keep the product for a life time and that the piece will adapt to the users ever changing needs and tastes. Founded in 2007 by husband-wife design team Johann Pauwen and Michaele Simmering at the birth of their first baby, when they wanted to make better products for their child. Embracing American made craft and innovation, Kalon Studios was founded not only to design products that stimulate and inspire but also to use design for positive change.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.
Founded at the birth of Johann and Michaele's first child, Kalon Studios was, in large part, born out of two young parents' desire to find a way to be equal participants in their children’s lives. Since its founding, there has been a daily blurring of home and work life in the studio. The bright, white studio is filled with projects, piles of reference materials, scraps of leather, wood, fabric, paint chips and projects in various stages of completion. It is also filled with kid's art supplies and children's toys. The children work along side their parents, each producing their own work. Having life intertwined with the studio keeps the work in perceptive and grants the designers the ability to treat life as a design laboratory, something they believe leads to a more practical and considered object. It fosters, in the children, a transparent relationship both with what their parents do and where things come from, which is something Kalon strives to communicate in general.
What inspires you?
The process. Striving towards simplicity. The technical details which bring sophistication to otherwise simple objects. Seeing all objects as tools for life. Work that stands out while seamlessly blending into its environment. Work that embraces the unique character and variation of natural materials as an integral part of design. Materials that grow more beautiful with age and use. Work that invites the user to have a more intimate relationship with a piece, that invites one into a role of stewardship, so that a piece gains more value to a user as its changes with age and use. Work that is transparent, that is considered at each stage of its life. How it is made, what it is made from, how it will decompose, who makes it. We are inspired by design that gives as much as it takes.
What makes your business stand out?
Transparency and uncompromising dedication to producing the highest quality, sustainably made goods.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?
Forget about the standards of good business. Fashion your company based on what makes the most sense to you. Build the kind of company that reflects the business practices you would like to see in the world, and a company that reflects the values of your life. See how far you can take it and work hard to overcome the challenges.
What does American Made mean to you?
American Made means sustainability. For us, sustainability is defined as having multiple intentions all of which center on the idea of balance, of giving as much as we take, be it through economics, the environment or on the everyday human level. Sustainable production for us means domestic production and it means local materials. It means we care about what we make. We care about where our products come from and who makes them. We care about the people, the businesses and about the communities where our work is made. It means we are invested not only in the quality of our pieces but the quality of life for those who make them.