In the Studio with Scout Regalia
How about a SoCal studio visit to chill out your Saturday? Scout Regalia’s design space will set you right, and our cute Q+A with the makers behind the brand is mood-boosting to boot. Makoto Mizutani and Benjamin Luddy (and one VIP dog named Penny) call LA’s San Pedro neighborhood home to both their business and extra-curricular lives. Their light filled live-work space is a fire house-sized building once occupied by a motor bus company—a roomy, flexible arrangement perfectly suited to their professional and personal needs. In fact, it can be hard to distinguish where the design biz ends and their home life begins. Scout Regalia products and prototypes are so at ease in their household, and that speaks volumes about the kind of work this couple is creating. Their vision is eminently livable and effortlessly elegant.
The duo has been running Scout Regalia for over a decade (!), evolving along the way. Their multitasking practice marries simplicity and savvy design, rolling out a diverse array of adaptable products and furniture—a birdhouse, colorful wall hooks, a stool, a customizable upholstered pouf, and of course the exceedingly cool SR Flat Plants we offer a limited-edition version of. (PSA: our Flat Plants edition is a perfect housewarming and/or host present for all your upcoming holiday parties, and for under $50.)
Behind their designs is an emphasis on practicality, pieces that embrace utility and elevate the objects of everyday experience. There’s a carefully considered balance here, never erring too far on the side of sterility or ornamentation. This is part of the reason why Scout Regalia’s products and furniture feel so very versatile. Another reason for the versatility of their work revolves around their sense of adventure, constantly exploring new materials, approaches, and aesthetics. They’re also big outdoorspeople—California is an ideal hub for anyone with an naturalist, adventuresome side, which means these city slickers needn’t venture far for their eco-fix.
Something else that’s super key to Scout Regalia: everything is made in the US of A, and most items in the LA-area through local producers. Mizutani and Luddy considers these partnerships a cornerstone of their business, and support of local fabricators a prerequisite. You can learn more about their manufacturing ethos in this throwback feature on the LA Times, or check out this more recent video about their work on Hunker.
In our interview, the two talents behind Scout Regalia dish on their work playlists, their evolution form the architecture world, and the crucial creative importance of taking a freaking break. More below! – Jen Bekman + Team 20x200
Where's your studio?
We’re in San Pedro, CA. Which is still part of the City of Los Angeles and right by the Port of LA.
What's your favorite tool in the studio?
Makoto: The Olfa Touch Knife. It’s a little round cutter that’s perfect for opening packages. I find myself using it nearly everyday for random packing needs.
Ben: My digital caliper. A very important tool for laser cut projects like our SR Flat Plants.
What do you wear when working in the studio?
Makoto: Usually stripes and white crocs.
Ben: Grubby work clothes, always solids.
What's on your in-studio playlist?
Makoto: So eclectic! Currently, my spotify daily playlists feature Miley Cyrus, Young Thug, Drake, Wilco, Big Star, 6LACK, and late 90’s Mariah Carey.
What's the first thing you do when you arrive at your studio?
We have a live/work studio, so the very first thing we do is make coffee, maybe check emails and make a to-do list before we dive into work. Our workdays are really varied. On any given day, we’ll be in front of the computer, or in the workshop, packing out orders, or sketching out new ideas.
What's your work style? Late nights? Intense creative bursts? Slow and steady wins the race?
We like to keep normal hours- we did enough late nights in architecture school to last a lifetime. When we’re on a deadline or feeling especially inspired, we may work late or through the weekend. We definitely make it a point to go out and enjoy the outdoors and be inspired by things outside of design and architecture.
Furniture, spatial concepts, home products, graphic design—Scout Regalia's work really runs the gamut. Is there a particular medium or perhaps a particular ethos you feel anchors your work? Anything you're eager to explore more?
We try and design spaces and products with a certain utility to them, and without being too sterile or precious. Spaces, furniture, and products should take on a life of their own once they find their final homes. We’d like to think that we design timeless products that don’t necessary fall into trends, but can be appreciated and used for a lifetime. We also make it a point to work with local fabricators for our products and furniture. All of our products are made in the USA, and most are made right here in Los Angeles.
You just celebrated a major milestone—ten (!!) years of Scout Regalia. Congrats! What's something you've learned about running a successful design practice that you didn't anticipate in the early years?
Thanks so much! We started Scout Regalia in August of 2008, right before the economy collapsed. The building and construction industries were hit so hard, and by association, the architecture profession had to really reconsider it’s sustainability. We started Scout Regalia with the idea that we would be focussing on spaces, but we had to quickly adapt and make our own projects. We started designing more products and furniture, and that’s sort of the trajectory we’ve been on through the years. We still do some spaces, and we always incorporate some custom furniture elements to our projects. We’re excited to see what the next 10 years will look like!
What's your favorite way to procrastinate in the studio?
Makoto: Taking care of our growing collection of indoor plants, both real and flat :)
Ben: Bike and snowboard websites.
Whens, Hows & Whys
When did you first realize you wanted to start your own design practice and how’d you get there?
I think we both had aspirations to start our own office since we were students at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. We did a competition when we were still students to rethink small lot residential infill projects in Portland Oregon. We ended up winning the Design Excellence Award. I think that was our first realization that we could really create something special as a design team. We both worked at different architecture and interior design offices up until we started Scout Regalia. But ultimately, we’ve always wanted to have our own office to develop our own design aesthetic.
How do you get over creative blocks?
Go outside! Take a break! You can find inspiration in the most unexpected ways when you aren’t looking for it. I think designers and architects tend to live in a bubble of just looking at the work within their own profession. Inspiration can come from a hike, meeting new people, eating new foods, etc.
What do you like best about 20x200?
It’s a great platform for designers and artists to show a limited collection of work, and I think the curation for the site is great!
Which artists' 20x200 collections do you most covet (and why)?
The Space Collection is great- always love a good earth shot from space. Also really dig Jason Polan’s “50 People...” series. It’s a great snapshot of life in NY and makes us miss our time in NYC.
Why do you think it's important to have a dedicated work space for your art? What advice would you give to artists looking to build a creative work space?
Your creative space should feel like a second home. We’re lucky that we have a live/work space, which makes creating a "second home" pretty easy. For us, it’s important that our space feels like a comfortable, inspired place to develop ideas and designs. We also need to have a space where we can prototype and work on products hands-on. Our live-work space used to be the headquarters for a family-run bus business in the 1930’s so we have these large bus garages that we’ve converted into a workshop. Having a space like that to build out ideas is important in our design development process.
All photography below by Jon Chu for hunker
The 411 on Scout Regalia
Scout Regalia is a Los Angeles based, multi-tasking design practice obsessed with the design and fabrication of space, furniture, products, and interiors. Established in 2008 with Benjamin Luddy and Makoto Mizutani, the design studio is dedicated to supporting local fabricators, and aspires to embody innovation, discipline, and inquisitiveness in all the work that is produced. Embracing both the unassuming and ornamental aspects of design, Scout Regalia celebrates the inherent design of everyday living.