this LA-based furniture designer has fast become a favorite of ours—from head men’s designer, Frank, to our store design team (his utilitarian-style sofas sit in several of our stores, including New York Fifth Avenue and Los Angeles’s the Grove). we swung by Stephen’s studio for a cup of coffee (Handsome Coffee Roasters
) and some design talk.
Stephen, photographed in his downtown LA loft wears the 484 selvedge jean in raw indigo with the Wallace & Barnes workshirt in indigo dot and vintage boots.You’re from Canada, what brought you to LA?
When I was 20 years old, my friend Steve Dubbeldam and I started a denim line in Edmonton called Iron Army. It was an idea that led us on a crazy adventure that landed us in Los Angeles. I was hooked. I haven’t been able to stop making things and exploring stories that inspire me.Do you have formal training in furniture design?
I didn’t go to school for any type of design. I’ve always been curious. I learn so much from taking things apart, which leads me to understanding how things are made.
The East LA warehouse where you uncovered military materials ended up inspiring your Inheritance Collection. Is that where your love of craftsmanship began?
That warehouse is a very special place for me. I can get lost for hours climbing the piles and picking up objects and inspecting them.Start to finish, how long does it take to design a piece of furniture. (They’re all made to order, right?)
Well, designing something can take months and months of stewing over ideas in my head, definitely a few sleepless nights and usually a few not-quite-right prototypes. But actually making a piece from the collection usually takes us four to six weeks. This gives us some leeway in case something unexpected happens along the way. And yes, they are all made to order.Made in LA seems to be a buzzword right now, and you’re doing just that. Tell us a bit about what it’s been like to design and create a furniture line here.
I love LA because I live in LA. There are so many talented craftsmen embedded throughout the city. As for the appeal of making products in LA, it’s about more than the object itself at the end of the day—how it’s made, why it was made and who made it tell a rich story. That story, if communicated clearly, gets to live on after the object is purchased.
Are there a few places in LA that inspire you as a designer?
LA is too huge to list all my favorite spots. Strictly downtown, I love Alma
for fine dining, Honeycut
for cocktails, G&B
in the Grand Central Market for coffee and the new Ooga Booga
gallery space on Mission Road in Boyle Heights. The Arts District and Broadway are changing a lot right now, and I’m excited to see what happens next.
Photography by Bryan Derballa.
To shop Stephen’s jeans, click here
, and to shop his shirt, click here