Redefining SoCal Style with Kim Gordon Designs

The Los Angeles Times nailed it when they profiled designer Kim Gordon last year, noting her “moxie and nonconformist approach” to making houses. The longtime Venice Beach resident brings an artist’s eye to her adventurous design-build projects, and she's causing something of a stir. Her homes are attracting tech- and music-industry execs (think veteran A&R man Neil Jacobson) and fellow design aficionados like luxury brand consultant Kelly Furano and her husband, Keith Eshelman of Parks Project. “Venice was once just tiny lots with little cottages,” Gordon recently told Robb Report. “Tech people are now descending here, and they want larger homes where they can live and work and do everything,” she said. (One of her latest projects, a 3,500-square-foot compound, sold for $5 million—over $1,428 per square foot. In fact, most of her homes sell above the listing price.) In one harmonious swoop, Gordon and her team, which includes work and life partner, Mauricio Suarez, handle everything from permits and construction to interior design and home staging. With so many exciting projects in the works, it’s no surprise that she was recently featured in a New York Times story on kitchen trends, an article we shared (with—argh!—an incorrect but now-fixed link) in our latest edition of Tapped In. But it’s not just home design that fires Gordon’s passion, she’s an avid supporter of local charities SPY: Safe Place for Youth, Homeless Task Force and The Teen Project. Read on to learn more about Kim’s intuitive take on Southern California design and why we find her such an inspiration.

How did you get started in the design business? I am an artist and have always been turned on by my home environment as a place in which to live and create. I worked with designers and architects to create installations in homes and commercial spaces. I renovated our rental properties and got lucky with real estate timing by flipping some of them. Luck also played a role in my surprising knack for understanding and designing the flow of a house—the way a family moves around in a home. I was used to working on big houses and I wanted to bring some of the luxurious moments into the smaller beach community home; things that make life at home feel as precious as it should be: pantries, larger laundries, thoughtful closets, and spa-like bathrooms.

How would you describe your firm’s style? We design living experiences. We are a comfort-focused luxury brand that adds layers of charm and humor, and moments from the past and the present, to make a house feel like a home—a place where you can enjoy a leafy, slightly overgrown garden.

What would you say you’re most known for, or what should new clients know about you? I am extremely collaborative. Working for so many years with designers and celebrities, I learned to listen and hear what the client would love. What I bring is a concept that the home shouldn’t feel overly decorated, more like you came from a traveling family and brought all sorts of things in together. The houses that I design and sell are layered; I am trying to tell a story of an invisible homeowner and not have the house look like it’s a frigid spec home. Very often we hear, “I never would have thought to put these items in the same room together, but it works!”

What are some of your favorite Southern California sources for design inspiration? I am kind of in love with hotel lobbies these days. I find them to be the perfect place to spend time with Mauricio and our friends. You are not rushing out and you can get anything. Kids can plop in a big chair and eat an awesome burger and truffle fries. It feels special and takes you away for a minute. Lobbies are even a great place for a business meeting. Parking is easy. You can chillax and enjoy the company. Generally, you’re taken better care of in hotels than in restaurants. I spend more time popping into hotel lobbies (and spas, for that matter) to be inspired by the spaces. How come we feel like we are on vacation as soon as we walk into a hotel? Those moments of luxury—the plantings, the attention to detail, the kindness of the service—all of these things inspire the homes that we do. Hotels like Casa del Mar in Santa Monica and the Library Bar at the Roosevelt. I like the mishmash of old and new furnishings in older hotels, and how they find that magical blend of the high and low. I think it feels natural.

Tell us about a favorite room that you’ve recently designed. I am very proud of our Superior Avenue project' kitchen, which ran in the New York Times. It’s open and airy, and has a lot of space for showing off and working, including an island that has a built-in hydroponic herb garden.