Lifestyle is a characteristic bundle of behaviors that makes sense to both others and oneself in a given time and place, including social relations, consumption, entertainment, dress, and, perhaps most importantly to our design profession - our chosen surroundings. The behaviors and practices within lifestyles are a mixture of habits, conventional ways of doing things, and reasoned actions. Webster's Dictionary defines the word lifestyle as a manner of living that reflects the person’s values and attitudes. Wikipedia describes lifestyle as a term to describe the way a person lives - originally coined by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler in 1929. The current broader sense of the word dates from 1961 - a set of behaviors, and the senses of self and belonging which these behaviors represent, are collectively used to define a given lifestyle.
We define lifestyle as the way you choose to live. "Lifestyle Design" - why is lifestyle relevant to us? Each of us deal in lifestyle design - whether we are the inventors or the consumers, whether we choose to or not. As designers, we are responsible for interpreting our clients' lifestyles so that we can author the surroundings that reflect and nurture that particular lifestyle.
Many of our clients believe they want a style. Call it Country French, Modern Ranch, Cape Cod or Desert Contemporary. It’s up to us to help them understand how secondary that notion is. If we start with a style, we have a façade – a dress for the evening. If we start with lifestyle, we begin the process with integrity that leads to an authentic design environment. Style comes as one of the results of that. Other results can be timelessness, excitement, appropriateness, comfort, and beauty. A result can also be a something that cannot be described as a style - our favorite result.
We define lifestyle as the way you choose to live. "Lifestyle Design" - why is lifestyle relevant to us? Each of us deal in lifestyle design - whether we are the inventors or the consumers, whether we choose to or not. As designers, we are responsible for interpreting our clients lifestyles so that we can author the surroundings that reflect and nurture that particular lifestyle.
Lifestyle design starts with a story. This is our client's stories and it requires a bit of time to investigate and uncover his or her way of living, desires, and history. We match that to the context within which we are dealing – the room, the property, the business, the identity platform – our canvas. At KAA Design, we prefer to focus on lifestyle - not style itself. Clothes, cars, architecture, graphics, - it’s all about lifestyle. We have been called “style agnostic” as we tend to focus on the marriage of the client and context, providing personalized solutions for each endeavor. Style is secondary - one of the results that may come from a lifestyle or story-based approach.
Most people know KAA for its design of large, custom residential estates. Drawing on more than two decades of working closely with passionate and demanding residential clients, many of them A-list celebrities and leaders in industry, KAA has developed keen insight into personal lifestyles that extends far beyond design in the conventional sense of the word. And if you start from that premise, you’re not designing anything for a while. In fact, the process initially feels more like an archeological dig than a design effort - a process that involves understanding context as much as the client. For a designer grounded in the profession’s conventions, this process can feel uncomfortable and counterintuitive at first. But the shift in mindset is essential. Crafting that story, which is mostly finding it and representing it, and representing it not just in words, but also visually, is very important. Once that story exists, and is confirmed and collaboratively authored with the client, everything else follows. All the answers are there.
But lifestyle design is not only applicable to homes. It is now leading our firm into other robust arenas of design including corporate branding, mixed use commercial and residential, education, and product design. How does that make sense? Savvy business owners from hotel and restaurant owners to popular Internet companies and commercial developers are beginning to realize that the success of their product relies on an intimate knowledge and response to their client’s lifestyle. A brief look at a recent range of Lifestyle Designs by KAA Design:
Sashi Sushi + Sake Lounge, an upscale Japanese restaurant located in Manhattan Beach, California, exemplifies the expanded scope and depth of involvement that such an approach implies: Beyond designing architecture, signage and interiors, KAA also created every piece of collateral, right down to the menus and chopstick covers. The multi-award winning effort also included the restaurant naming, website design and development, and chef and server uniforms.
Beauvallon is an expansive estate on a nine-acre property in the heart of Beverly Hills. Competing for the substantial commission, the KAA team began not with plans and elevations but instead with a narrative grounded in insights into the client’s distinctive lifestyle and the properties numerous opportunities. KAA won the commission with a complete visioning and story process that included comprehensive renderings, a material kit, and a branded estate cuvee wine.
HOM Lifestyle Product Line: A complete line of prefab dwellings, furniture, lighting and accessories centered around a ‘weekend getaway’ lifestyle. KAA first identified a trend, then envisioned the client, and next turned to an industry that makes average product to explore how to make something even better. HOM’s product design mindfulness extends from its exploration of the indoor/outdoor theme and ecological agenda to the fact that it addresses a legitimate need and embodies simplicity and purposefulness at its core.
Emerald Bay is a once-in-a-lifetime residential commission on a prime beachfront location in Southern California. The desire was three-fold; California casualness, Mexican resort vibe, and Mediterranean pedigree. The resulting estate commands a timeless presence on the overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is not entirely possible to coin the style but the lifestyle here is very clear. We love that.
1300 Highland Shops and Worklofts is a brand new development type of office and retail condominiums that allows individual ownership of the workplace and retail environment in a vital urban beachfront setting. It represents a new vision for how we work and a completely new mixed-use building type. The KAA Design Team included architects, landscape architects, branding expertise, interior design and landscape architects. The complete experience was designed and coordinated for the 13,000 square foot, 34 unit development including naming, signage and way finding, entitlement processing, model unit design and installation, and graphic and marketing materials. Capturing the urban beach lifestyle was the critical component for attracting the buyers.
Latitude 33 is a revitalization project consisting of several residential and retail buildings on an entire city block in the popular Venice Beach/Marina Del Rey area of Los Angeles. A savvy Development team led by Westbrook Partners out of New York bought the property out of foreclosure and turned to KAA to conceive a new lifestyle brand platform and renovation to appeal to a cross-range of upscale buyers. Context is key to the vision of Latitude 33 which manifests itself across all aspects of the project’s brand, planning, and design. The result is a spectrum of living options meticulously crafted for a unique coastal lifestyle where individual preferences and personalities are celebrated.
Last year, in an effort to help lend credibility to the Lifestyle Design approach, we published a book that chronicles a dozen of KAA Design's residential projects. Lifestyles of Southern California is a monograph of much of our residential work to be sure, but a closer look –and better yet, a close read- explains how the marriage of each client’s lifestyle and the project context set the platform for these beautiful homes. The lifestyle stories are worth the read as they paint a picture of how and why there exists a spectrum of opportunity in this diverse Southern California.
Although our practice extends well beyond Southern California, it is rooted in and arises out of the expansive, continuously inventive, natural and cultural landscape of the area. The region’s nurturing natural environment and open-minded atmosphere continues to foster a tradition of innovatively designed houses. With their experiments in residential design in the early- and mid-twentieth century, architects who worked in Southern California such as Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, Wallace Neff, and George Washington Smith, continue to inspire research into new ways of living; one of the hallmarks of Southern California residential architecture. Like these trailblazers, we practice with an acute awareness of physical and historical context and a carefully considered use of local materials. Our work engages this rich tradition of innovation and experimentation, while responding to a climate of accelerated change. In each of our projects, we strive for a synthesis that is at once natural, sensitive, and creative; an accurate architectural expression of a way of life.
Much as the choice to reside in Southern California allows one to start life anew, collaborating with the design team to create a new home tailored specifically to one’s needs offers the luxury of stepping back to consider and acknowledge priorities, goals, and the ways in which environments can both mirror and shape lives. It is a rare opportunity that neither we, nor our clients, take lightly. At KAA, we invite our clients to participate in the process of - what will undoubtedly be one of the most significant endeavors of their lives – the design of the environment in which they will feel secure, nurtured, and inspired so they can continue to pursue the new, the exciting, and the innovative. Our ultimate objective in designing homes, their interiors, and gardens is to expand and elevate the lives of our clients with whom we collaborate, and to facilitate their own process of self-discovery. This holistic approach yields unique solutions for each client, reflecting the individuality and range of their lifestyles.
Breathtaking sites, an intentionally casual yet sophisticated elegance, an intimate relationship with nature, and a celebration of the temperate climate that allows a seamless fusion of indoor and outdoor living: these are hallmarks of what this region allows us to work with in terms of lifestyle. More than “houses,” these homes are both personal sanctuaries for their residents as well as individual interpretations of the California Dream. They are the culmination of fruitful collaborations between our firm, KAA Design, and our clients who come to us with high expectations. In this sunlit paradise of limitless possibilities, we feel fortunate to have so many opportunities to help others realize their dreams, often in ways they could never have anticipated.