Any designer knows that the artistic process can be challenging with too many voices in one room. As two sisters from differing backgrounds in fashion and entertainment, we were excited to discover Studio Collective – a boutique design agency where multiple visions and differing backgrounds has proved to be a strength. Founded in the heart of Santa Monica in August 2009, Studio Collective is the brainchild of seasoned designers Adam Goldstein, Christian Schultz and Leslie Kale. It’s the power of three when it comes to this incredible agency, whose joint experience includes work with icons like Phillippe Starck, Kelly Wearstler, Frank Gehry and Dodd Mitchell. While Goldstein is more big picture, Schultz is all about the details, but both designers are very architectural in their visions. Enter Leslie Kale, who has an extensive background in fashion, as the chief designer for KALE (a luxury handbag line sold at Barneys and Harvey Nichols). She brings a chic, feminine touch to every Studio Collective space.
When sitting down with these three, Schultz immediately noticed the erred lighting scheme of the room; Kale commented on Danielle’s ring; Goldstein appeared to be taking broad mental notes of our surroundings. A true balance seems to be in place with this trio; a balance that’s translated into spaces such as SBE’s Hyde Lounge, as well as the Hollywood Roosevelt’s The Spare Room, and Public Kitchen and Bar. It’s at The Hollywood Roosevelt that this agency proved they could stay dedicated to the timeless aesthetic of the hotel, while also achieving a modern twist. Now, Studio Collective will be working with Brent Bolthouse and The Fairmont Miramar hotel to design The Bungalow – a cottage on the hotel’s property that they’ll soon be transforming into an intimate lounge. We couldn’t have asked for more suitable candidates for this week’s aesthetic profile, which is more of a journey through the creative wonderland that is Studio Collective…
TNP: Can you tell me a little bit about how Studio Collective came to fruition? What was the vision you had as a group?
A: Yeah, of course. Two of us had gone to architecture school together. After school, we started working for different people, but took similar career paths that focused more specifically on design rather than architecture. We reconnected working at SBE, a nightlife hospitality group located in Los Angeles. After a series of events, we were able to form this rounded-out trio.
C: Our first project together was an offshoot from previous work I had done with Hyde Lounge. This specific project centered around redesigning the boxes of L.A.’s Staples Center.
A: This project ended up being a major success, as we gutted eight boxes and turned them into higher-end lounges. They became private party rooms, complete with closed curtains and their own DJ, formed with the intention of having people stay all night. It was a great first project.
C: After this, we were working on a few other projects independently that we wanted to close up, as to avoid growing too big too quickly. We sought to creatively control our destiny while focusing our concerns on quality rather than quantity. We also all believe that you can do anything with design if you embrace it properly. Because we represent a diverse set of backgrounds, we are open to working on both residential and retail projects.
L: Basically just round out the types of projects we do.
TNP: Have you guys ventured into the fashion world yet? How do your three styles play into each other when creating a restaurant or hotel? What is that process like?
L: While we haven’t worked directly in fashion yet, there is an element of fashion in pretty much everything you do. Creativity is everywhere. I’m typically more into the furnishings and drapery.
C: Because we work in a trio, it is necessary to have people that balance your weaknesses. So, in this case, Leslie has an acute sensibility towards materiality. We are all crazy about detail in different ways. For example, while one of us will be worrying about the color and shine of a ribbon, another one of us will be obsessing over the big picture.
A: In this trio, we all fell into our little niches in a truly organic and unplanned way.
TNP: When you go into a new project, how concerned are you about the Chef’s point of view or story? How do you balance the Chef’s vision and “Studio Collective’s” when creating a new space?
A: While we are a very collaborative bunch, we take the chef, shop owner, or bartender’s point of view very seriously. We like to know where they are coming from.
C: It makes their stories and future spaces more interesting. Aesthetically speaking, we don’t want our projects to be identified as “Studio Collective Projects,” rather as spaces that are defined by the people we work for.
A: We don’t want to have an easily distinguishable aesthetic because it limits you in the long run and also opens the possibility of having your work look dated rather than timeless.
L: Not a repeat of each other.
A: We like the idea of constant reinvention in our spaces.
C: Our best projects are often for those people with the strongest visions. Of course this poses its own set of difficulties, as you are all creatively trying to work together. But ultimately, the collaborative editing and curating leads to a better result.
A: Of course we also get clients that will come to us sometimes and hand over the reigns to us. But, generally speaking, strong projects evolve from strong points of views.