You might’ve seen some behind-the-scenes pictures floating around on Instagram, and asked yourself, “I wonder what the guys at Den are up to?” Well, the wait is over, and the answer is right here, delivered to your inbox.
The best design is almost always collaborative - and not in the celebrity designer releasing an Ikea collection way. There’s so much work that goes into every single piece we bring into the store - the designer, of course, but there’s the skilled craftspeople who help bring it to life, the architect who creates the space that the piece lives in, the interior designer who helps put it in the right place.
Everybody brings their point of view to their work, which is what makes design such a fulfilling, creative, and layered field to work in. So, this year, we’re starting something new.
Designers are going to come into the store, look around, do their thing, and pick their favorite pieces. Then, they’ll stage everything in a space and a photographer will shoot it for posterity, and Instagram.
This is what we call a win-win-win:
- Designers can use the high-quality, iconic pieces we pride ourselves on, and we get to have a true collaboration with them to create something special and unique.
- We get to show off how beautiful our pieces look in other spaces, and hear designers explain how they use not only furniture, but textiles, planters, lighting, and objects to create a personal, stylish space. There’s always something new to learn, especially with people who are this talented.
- We have beautiful new images to show everyone from potential clients to our IG followers, and you get introduced to some very exciting creatives.
So, back to those behind-the-scenes pictures on Instagram. They’re the result of our very first designer collaboration with Christopher Allen, an architect and designer who heads up the interiors department at Woods + Dangaran.
We took over his Santa Monica bungalow for an afternoon of rearranging, styling, and photography that resulted, in Christopher’s words, “the perfect visit to brown-town”. Dive into the interview to hear all about his process, his design heroes, and the favorite pieces he used.
Can you describe your design style for us?
I think about this a lot because that’s what everyone wants to know. I’m definitely a minimalist. I believe less is more, architecturally and design-wise.
I hope that I don’t have a “style” I think a good designer should be able to switch styles, like an MC. I can give it to you this way or that way. One thing I hope that can be said about what I do is that it’s eclectic and multi-dimensional and nuanced.
I love the modern stuff, I love organic things that aren’t modern or machined at all. It’s more about composition and balance - tone and texture and scale. Give me the right light and the right chair, and that can be it for me. That’s what a good designer has command of.
What were you trying to say with this room?
Well, I’m all about brown-town. I want to be there all the time, and if you look, the apartment is pretty brown. But first and foremost, the goal was to use everything in a way that people would ask “Does someone actually live here?”
The thing about design is - if you get to work with people who know what they’re doing, sit back and let them. I had my ideas about how this place or space should look, but it was nice to collaborate with people about what looks best.
What was it like working together?
It was really inspirational. Because look, I can put things together and they’ll look good, but to have access to these $20,000 Paul Laszlo cane chairs, that felt special. Those are once in a lifetime chairs, you know? And to have Jason here, to have my creative partner Leona Goto here, to have an amazing photographer like Zach Gray - each one of them was so critical to this coming together the way it did.
What are some of your favorite pieces you used?
The early production Eames chair with rosewood. I live .75 miles away from the Eames house, and I’m such a huge fan of that creative couple. I’d love to live that life, live in that house, work in that house - ya boy’s not there yet. I currently don’t have a sofa and seeing the Maralunga there - that was a real treat.
What are some of your favorite pieces at DEN?
My furniture hero is Paul Kjaerholm - he was Danish and a gangster. Jason had one of those the first time I went into the shop and I was like, “Whoa, this guy knows his shit.”
Of course, everyone knows that Jason has this unbelievable collection of Walter Lamb furniture, he usually has at least a couple of really, really great Hans Wegner chairs, but I think his ceramics selection is exquisite. There’s this one planter we used in my apartment and it was red and orange and yellow - we just put it in the corner empty, and it pulled the whole thing together.