The Cool School's Minimalist Workspace

Creative Workspace Tour

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Name: The Cool School
Location: Glendale; Los Angeles, California
Size: 1,000 square feet
Years in Business: Opened January 6, 2014

When designing a workspace, it can be tricky to create a functional design without using typical office furniture. Los Angeles art space The Cool School, with its minimal design and custom furniture, is such an inspiration for this reason. The furniture blends in with the architecture and lets the artwork be the focus in the space.

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Since The Cool School holds art classes, the owners wanted to create an environment that inspires students. The exposed brick wall gives the design an industrial feel. Each table is custom made to fit easels and art supplies. The stools match the table and have an earthy and minimal feel. And of course, the huge windows bath the class in incredible light!

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We spoke with Janna and Shannon, the founders of the Cool School, to see what they had to say about the space.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Our style is definitely modern, with a nod to Mid-Century. We really appreciate fine craftsmanship and functionality, and we love all kinds of wood. For The Cool School Los Angeles, we emphasized functionality and minimalism and sought out the handiwork of local craftspeople. Something that is also near to our hearts is supporting our community.

Inspiration: The space itself initially inspired us because of its location, its amazing wall of windows which give great light, and the history of the building. From there we painstakingly worked to create custom furniture pieces that would highlight the space without overwhelming it, of course with craftsmanship and functionality always in mind.

Favorite Element: Our favorite elements of the space are the 25 foot ceilings and the wall of glass windows.

Biggest Challenge: The raw space is quite cold and industrial; our biggest challenge was to warm up the space and create a very inviting and inspiring creative environment. The beautiful walnut that was used to fabricate the furniture immediately made an impact, and then we used pops of yellow to brighten things up.

What Friends Say: Everyone knows the building because it is historic and they are excited that we are there. The space at its bones is a very traditional brick industrial space. People's reaction when they walk in after seeing what we have done is that it feels very inspiring, which is exactly what we are hoping for — a timeless, modern, clean and inspiring creative environment.

Biggest Embarrassment: I don't know if this is really an embarrassment, but we found it strange that there were multiple restroom signs on the walls. There is only one restroom and it is quite obvious where it is located! We took them down.

Proudest DIY: We are extremely proud of our logo and the furniture design. Though not our own DIY, certainly the DIY of our friends and community. The logo was designed by our dear friend and San Francisco based artist, Kyle Knobel. His sense of design is so simple and playful, and yet he is very in tune with the graphic trends of the time. Our furniture was designed by Katarina from Matters of Space in Highland Park. We had such an amazing time working with her. Of course, we expect that the art created at The Cool School Los Angeles by all the amazing students will be the ultimate DIY!

Biggest Indulgence: Sorry I sound a bit like a broken record, but our biggest indulgence was our furniture! We wanted high quality, well designed pieces with high style and high functionality that would not only endure being used by lists of students, but also endure the test of time and have a timeless quality. We plan on being open and serving the Los Angeles art community for a very long time! Our goal is to be integral in the LA arts education scene and an important resource for students of all ages for many years to come.

Best Advice: We were a little gun shy about opening the school, though it had been on our minds for quite some time. We have a lot going on in our lives including raising 1 1/2 year old twins, so the thought of opening a new business was quite daunting! However, with the advice and support of our friends and family and our passion about the importance of arts education, we decided that we not only wanted to start the school, but we had to do it. We are grateful to everyone who has contributed and encouraged us to open the school.

Dream Sources: Whether it is new stuff or vintage (furniture and clothing), we love supporting local businesses and independent craftspeople. Right now, some of our favorites include:

  • Matters of Space: This small shop in Highland Park designs incredible furniture and the prices are reasonable for the great quality of work.
  • Platform: Platform has incredible goods from all around the world and they also support local artists, not to mention they have become one of the top stagers for housing in the area!
  • Echo Garden: This is the best nursery and the sweetest couple owns it. You are always offered tea, hot or cold depending on the weather!
  • Mid-Century LA: Dave has an amazing eye for Mid-Century furniture and one of the best collections I have seen. His attention to detail is incredible plus he is a great guy.
  • OC Modern: OC Modern used to be my biggest secret, but they have built-up quite a great reputation over the years. Josh and his wife run a Mid-Century furniture business out of their house in Long Beach. They also go to all the local flea markets including the Rose Bowl flea market. They are all about giving people a fair price for great pieces and they will personally deliver to your house! They are so lovely.
  • Kat and Roger: This dynamic couple creates beautiful and playful ceramics that will blow your mind. Roger is the ceramicist and Kat is a painter, their collaborations are just lovely. We hope to lure them to The Cool School Los Angeles very soon for a workshop!
  • Heath Ceramics: We love beautiful ceramics! I have known the owner, Cathy, for some time and I am so amazed and proud of how she has taken this historic California brand and brought it back to life. I never tire of shopping at Heath.
  • Kkibo: Jo Abellera is an amazing LA based knitwear designer and she has such a beautiful eye for design. Her knit pieces are incredible and she is also a macrame aficionado! She teaches workshops at The Cool School Los Angeles and they are some of our most popular classes.
  • Yes!: Chantale Doyle owns this lovely vintage shop in the back of Reform School in Sunset Junction. She is an incredible picker of vintage clothing and shoes and also has the best selection of vintage sunglasses! Her pricing is great and she is a hardworking and dear person.
  • Avalon Vintage: Avalon Vintage in my best kept secret (no longer)! This little vintage clothing and record shop on Avenue 56 in Highland Park is owned by Carmen Hawk who used to co-own the clothing line, Jovovich-Hawk. She has the most incredible collection of vintage I have seen in a long time and for you diehard Jovovich-Hawk fans, she has dead stock at great prices!
  • VerUnica: I would not be the person I am today without this little SF vintage boutique! The most divine selection of vintage and the owner, Cindy, is also a great supporter of local talent. If you are ever in SF, it is a must go. Cindy is one of the sweetest and best dressed people I know.
  • Little Paper Planes: Little Paper Planes has had an online presence for some time, but last year opened up shop on trendy Valencia Street in SF. From artwork to zines, to accessories and clothing, Kelly is hands down the hardest working and most supportive shop owner I know. Her store is incredibly merchandised and is an inspiration both brick and mortar and online.

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Resources of Note:

FURNITURE:

ACCESSORIES:

  • Macrame planters by Jo Abelleara

FLOORING

  • The school has original concrete flooring

WINDOW TREATMENTS

  • None! We are fully exposed!

ARTWORK

  • The incredible students from The Cool School Los Angeles!
  • 3 blue rectangular artworks and artwork on large easel by The Cool School co-owner, Shannon Green
  • Framed prints on the retail cabinet were made by our teaching artist Rachael Pease

OTHER

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Thanks, Janna & Shannon!

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(Image credits: Marcia Prentice)

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Marcia is an interior, portrait, and travel photographer and has photographed over 50 homes of creatives. Her photographic style is capturing her subject in the most natural state and creating an emotional response.