Paradise Cove

A beach-side trailer is retrofitted for low-key California living

Commune, a Los Angeles-based design firm founded in 2004, is known for its “architectural assemblages,” which draw on innumerable stylistic influences ranging from Spanish Mission to Mid-Century, Gothic to Tudor. This converted trailer in Malibu, California—home to Sofie Howard, a friend of one of the firm’s founding partners—incorporates many of the features that have come to define Commune’s trademark aesthetic: kilim textiles, mixed-and-matched furnishings, and regional references to California’s melting-pot heritage.

Paradise Cove in Malibu, CA by Commune Design | Knoll Inspiration

Photograph by Spencer Lowell.

Upon purchase, Howard had carte blanche with the seaside property, which was in a sorry state. “It was literally plastic and cardboard, with a camping stove and a mini fridge." In the redesign, Howard and Commune principle Steven Johanknecht championed an anti-Hamptons aesthetic. "It's Malibu meets Big Sur," Johanknecht offers, "airstream meets cabin."

Paradise Cove in Malibu, CA by Commune Design | Knoll Inspiration

“It's Malibu meets Big Sur, airstream meets cabin.”

—Steven Johanknecht

Photograph by Spencer Lowell.

The corrugated metal exterior is painted mint green with purple and orange accent lines, quoting a trailer-park color scheme from the '70s. Inside, a single 500-square-foot room is treated as two conjoined spaces. A reading nook is made up of low-slung sofas that double as daybeds for itinerant guests. The adjacent kitchen and dining area barely fits a 47” Saarinen Dining Table surrounded by four Nakashima Straight Chairs, which Johanknecht chose for their evocation of the American Craft ethos. "I wanted to create a relaxed space combining quintessential California attitude with a mix of furnishings from artisans, artists, and friends," Johanknecht explains, "and the Saarinen Table and Nakashima Chairs just mixed perfectly with kilim textiles and stained glass." 

Paradise Cove in Malibu, CA by Commune Design | Knoll Inspiration

Photograph by Spencer Lowell.

For Howard, the trailer has been such a success that she’s now looking to upgrade to a larger model, so as to provide better lodgings for visiting friends and family. 

Last year, Commune marked its tenth anniversary with the publication of a book, Commune: Designed in California, that catalogues the organization’s contributions to the Southern California landscape in the form of retail, hospitality, and residential projects. For purchasing information, visit Commune design's website.

Project Credits:

Design: Commune Design
Photography: Spencer Lowell

 

Straight Chair
Saarinen Dining Table - 47" Round