For these makers, the decision to assemble objects by hand was as much about achieving autonomy as it was about reducing noise and clutter in their own lives. “This pared-back aesthetic allows for the individual to insert themselves maybe more than with something that’s ornate or that’s screaming a message,” says Michaele Simmering, 43, of the Los Angeles-based Kalon, which she co-founded with her German husband, Johannes Pauwen, 44, in 2007.
The collection evokes Kalon’s design philosophy of creating timeless pieces that marry form and function. Presented in four pieces — Highland’s slab-like forms and flawed curves hint at Brutalist influences. The intentional bluntness of their woodwork, attained with refined skill, celebrates the imperfect; eschewing the design norms of precision to embrace something more organic, more human.
Kalon’s first furniture collection in two years is an ode to reflection, escapism and sustainable living. In times of isolation – and even solitude – there’s power in the consciously transportive nature of the pieces, their lightness and ease a contemplation on the coast and, as Simmering and Pauwen hint, on the natural world more broadly.
Kalon Studios offers a seven-piece slate of perfect living room pieces, for anyone tired of the hunt but also for anyone who’s over the idea of furniture that doesn’t actually get used, sat upon, or well-loved. Breezy, distilled, and spacious, the collection... explore(s) the diminished, if not forgotten, fate of the living room, why design matters right now, and what it truly means to be essential.
Established in 2007, Los Angeles-based furniture maker Kalon Studios is built on the principles of sustainability, local production and top-notch materiality. But ask the company’s co-founders, Michaele Simmering and Johannes Pauwen, what drove the development of their first-ever showroom and the brand values grow to include a sharp focus on community and connection.
Unlike other companies that commonly focus on selling products above all else, Kalon eschewed imports altogether. Instead, Simmering and Pauwen focused on a commitment to domestic manufacturing and a “zero compromise” approach to ethical, sustainable production. In other words, Kalon decided to march to the beat of its own well-designed drum.
Polished in its production and pared back in its aesthetic is LA-based Kalon Studios, founded by Michaele Simmering and Johannes Pauwen. A recent collaboration with Reath Design sees the simple lines of their sugar pine-framed Rugosa sofa, daybed and chair augmented with a joyful, vintage-inspired mish-mash of upholstery.
While bigger brands typically take their cues from the fashion industry by chasing trends and rushing collections to market, Kalon takes the opposite approach. Designing for how people live today means using their own Los Angeles home as a laboratory, even if the overall process — from the initial concept to producing all the pieces within the U.S. — slows everything down.
When they started their business with the idea of being a fully sustainable brand—which for them means high quality products, domestically made in small batch production, with zero-compromises on sustainable materials and finishes, using only healthy, chemically neutral products and processes—every business expert they spoke to told the couple they were crazy.
The choice is largely driven by personal ideals," say Johann Pauwen and Michaele Simmering, co-founders of Kalon. "We aren’t just building beautiful pieces, we’re making choices that reflect the world we want to live in." The couple—in work and in life—do however add that "manufacturing in the U.S. has been, and continues to be, our greatest challenge."
These times have forced us to rethink many things – our relationships with our homes, the configuration of our workspaces, the supply chains that underpin production and the relationship between our species and the natural environment...Kalon Studios wants to think of the home as an ecosystem for a better life.
Evocative of midcentury modernist homeware, Kalon’s versions are elegant but practical. “We’ve always been fascinated by humble objects,” Simmering told me. “Our work is deliberately not precious. When we design, it’s with the intention that people are going to truly live, and live hard, with the pieces. We want them to be part of everyday life.”
Investing in people.. livable wages... the future of craftsmanship... the future of the planet... quality products, these are all important values to Kalon Studios, a brand based in Los Angeles known for its pared-back, timeless designs made from traditional + modern craftsmanship and natural materials.
Founders Michaele Simmering and Johann Pauwen design their elemental pieces in Los Angeles, which are then made in Pennsylvania to ensure the utmost attention to detail and quality. Each addition in Kalon’s collection is conceived as a simple, yet highly elevated version of an everyday object, and embodies modern sustainability at every turn.
You won’t find Michaele Simmering and Johann Pauwen on a soapbox, but they are every bit furniture makers on a mission. In an era when cheaply constructed products are proliferating, their "highly considered, zero-compromise" pieces are produced start to finish in the USA, a practice that’s helping to revitalize an American tradition gutted by offshoring to Asia.
The married designers, based in LA, bring an appreciation for the utilitarian to their line, Kalon, which they founded in 2007. A collection of well designed, sustainable furniture and housewares, each item has a reductive quality; a pared-back aesthetic that’s meant to blend seamlessly into a space, elevating its function and look.
Kalon’s business is part of a larger story at play in American manufacturing, illustrating just how tough it is to build and scale a design business in an industry that’s overwhelmingly characterized by polar-opposite approaches: wildly expensive, artisan-produced collectibles on one end, and seasonal designs built for a fast-furniture economy on the other.