Life and work truly do meet in the Los Angeles home of Scout Regalia’s Makoto Mizutani and Ben Luddy. The couple and co-founders of the multidisciplinary design practice use their smartly-designed compact home in LA’s Echo Park not only as their living space, but also as their company headquarters. Get to know their space and their work (we’re especially looking forward to the launch of their new all-American bicycle) in our latest tour.
You established Scout Regalia in 2006. What led to that point? We started Scout Regalia right after we graduated from the Southern California Institute of Architecture in 2006. We worked on a few competitions and projects, but it wasn’t until 2008 when we released our first product, the SR Raised Garden Kit, that Scout Regalia moved from ideas to actual products and spaces. Of course, 2008 was also when the economy collapsed, so it was a little rough going. Starting a business during lean times has definitely forced us to be more creative and adaptable as designers. But if you can make it through the last few years, you can make it through anything!
Tell us about Scout Regalia: what you’re passionate about, what inspires you, and where you’re going. The name of our office says a lot about what we’re about and our interests. We chose a name that conveyed our interests rather than creating a brand based on a signature design. Scout Regalia can be translated as “humble ornament”– an homage to finding the splendor in something simple or celebrating the inherent design of everyday living.
We’re inspired by the outdoors, exploring new landscapes, road trips, woodside cabins, mountains, the desert, the Pacific Ocean….pretty much everything you can access within a few hours from Los Angeles. We love living and working in LA. It has really inspired our design direction, from the SR White Oak Table Sets to our Trail Registry project for High Desert Test Sites. Year-round great weather can be a great incubator for creativity.
We’re currently working with Reunion, a design office in NYC, on a bar and hotel in Snowmass, Colorado. We’re really excited to collaborate with them on these projects as the design architects. We’ll be debuting some fun concepts and new furniture pieces for the bar and the hotel. Both projects will be completed by year’s end.
You’re introducing the Scout Regalia Bicycle this summer. What inspired it, and what are your hopes for it? We’ve been working on the design of the frame for about a year and a half now. In a lot of ways, the Scout Regalia Bicycle is the embodiment of how we work and what we’re interested in. The Scout Regalia Bicycle is our vision for an American bicycle that combines performance with style, and design with craftsmanship. We wanted the Scout Regalia Bicycle to take its cues from three distinct bicycle typologies: the English/Dutch town bike, a cycle truck, and a mountain bike — all with a distinctly American feel.
Why are you calling it your “Ode to America”? Not only because of its design cues, but, most importantly, because we worked with an American bike-frame builder and other stateside craftspeople to bring our vision to life. We worked with bike-maker David Wilson in Philadelphia who was incredibly helpful in refining and building our frame design. We also collaborated with Winter Session from Chicago to design saddlebags for the bikes that fold into a seat pad for the rear rack, and Topo Designs for the Wool Blanket and Accessory straps. We also worked with Swamp Road Baskets from upstate New York, who hand-weaved a beautiful black-ash market basket specifically designed to fit on the front rack of the bike. The Scout Regalia Bicycle, more than any other piece of furniture or product we’ve ever designed, was truly a collaborative effort.
Tell us about your home workspace. Any special considerations that influenced its set up? What do you like or dislike about it? Our workspace is truly multifunctional — serving as our primary office space, conference room, prototyping space, and of course, our living room. Our desktop is made of solid-core doors on top of plywood storage units that we designed. We’re working on creating a Cutsheet Project out of the storage units so people can build their own desk spaces. We also have a wall of Homasote that serves as our pin-up space and inspiration board. Our entire home has really become a laboratory for prototypes and testing out new ideas. We have the first prototype of the SR Outdoor Table Set along with a few SR Patio Gardens and SR Raised Gardens in our yard.
Are there any desk accessories you can’t do without? On any typical workday, you’ll definitely find a mug of coffee next to both of our workspaces. Scout Regalia is powered by coffee. We’ve also somehow accumulated a collection of yoyos and tops, which are a good way to pass the time when you’re on a call or need to sit back and think a problem through. We also keep things organized in our workspace with our SR Wall Pockets, which help keep clutter at bay. Our Homasote wall is indispensable — we use it to pin up new ideas or look at inspiring images.
You scored a great pair of Eames Molded Chairs for your office. What’s the story behind them? It was definitely a score! The story we heard was that they were being thrown out years ago during some renovation work at Cornell University, and some good design Samaritans salvaged them. We rescued them a second time when we spent a summer in upstate NY and some family friends were getting rid of them. They are such great chairs (and stackable too!) — comfortable, timeless, and they look great in any space. We can’t imagine anybody wanting to let them go.
Photos: Courtesy of Scout Regalia