Skip to main content directly Skip to Site Search Skip to Footer menus
Turn High Contrast On

Lost Horizon

A melting pot of influences comes together in this hidden California haven

Since the 1920s, Ojai—a city northwest of Los Angeles—has served as an oasis for California’s creative communities, sheltering big-name actors and directors from Hollywood's incessant glare. The city's self-styled nickname, "Shangri-La," dates back to 1937, when the valley’s vertiginous mountain ranges served as the backdrop for the Tibetan lamasery in Frank Capra’s adaptation of James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon.

Commune Design in Ojai, California | George Nakashima's Straight Chair | Knoll Inspiration

George Nakashima's Straight Chair in Ojai, California. Photograph by Richard Powers.

Ojai proved an ideal fit for the Commune Design’s unique blend of California cool and bohemian chic. Pamela Shamshiri, responsible for the firm’s residential projects, handled the renovation of this turn-of-the-century dwelling. "When we first saw the house, it was decorated with furnishings from the Arts and Crafts era," Shamshiri told Knoll, "but it had such great bones and history.” The residence was once home to Edward Libbey, arguably Ojai’s greatest patron, who left his own indelible mark on the property. “The ceilings, for instance, are detailed with Chumash Indian designs, hand-painted by the tribal leader during Libbey’s tenure.”

Commune Design in Ojai, California | George Nakashima's Straight Chair | Knoll Inspiration

“The Knoll dining chairs are a take on early American Windsor chairs as reinterpreted by the incredible modernist craftsman, George Nakashima.”

—Pamela Shamshiri

George Nakashima's Straight Chair in Ojai, California. Photograph by Richard Powers.

Commune’s principle task lay in crafting a modern interior that fit within Ojai’s idyllic surroundings. “We wanted to reference California’s early days when modernism was rooted in craftsmanship,” says Shamshiri, explaining the rationale behind the selection of furniture, “The Knoll dining chairs are a take on early American Windsor chairs as reinterpreted by the incredible modernist craftsman, George Nakashima.” The Straight Chairs have been paired with a dining table by Michael Wilson, whose gnarly, knotty base evokes the live-edge aesthetic of Nakashima’s woodwork. Shamshiri calls the combination "pure California goodness."

Project Credits:

Design: Commune Design
Photography: Richard Powers

 

Straight Chair