Echo’s Artist’s Loft

published Jul 28, 2015
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(Image credit: Erin Galvin)

Name: Echo Kao
Location: Toy District; Los Angeles, CA
Size: 870 square feet
Years lived in: 1 years; Owned

I knew that Echo was a talented industrial designer, but I was still surprised to learn that every night when she went home she was carefully crafting her own furniture. Her life and her work go hand-in-hand, which is reflected perfectly in the fact that her home has three(!) work spaces for her to spread out in. Stepping up to her loft from the chaotic street below in Los Angeles’s Toy District, visitors are greeted with a calm, deliberate space that showcases the owner’s amazing talent as well as a curated collection of local art.

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The entry hall leads directly to the kitchen, offering just a peak of the great view beyond (Image credit: Erin Galvin)
(Image credit: Erin Galvin)

Upon entering Echo’s 5th floor loft, visitors immediately experience a calm that is directly at odds with the busy street below filled with wholesale stores. Walking through the entry hall, which also contains the kitchen, a huge expanse of windows is visible beyond, providing all the light needed in the living area and a direct view of the downtown skyline. Many of the walls are unapologetically white, emphasizing the height of the space. The low-lying wood furniture is of Echo’s own creation, sanded to perfection to suit her vision. It is a home of high ceilings and small moments- a beautiful plant here, a perfectly formed vase there- but the star of the show is that light.

The bedroom provides a subdued counterpoint to the lightness of the living area. Moody blues and grays are adorned by small hanging lights. If the living room is a study in wood, the bedroom is a study in cloth: cozy, and perfect for a restful night.

(Image credit: Erin Galvin)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Comfort in a simple fashion. Infinite compositions of black, grays, void, and wood.

Inspiration: I have a few timeless sources of inspiration. My two favorite Johns: John Prouvé and John Pawson. The colors in a Richter painting. I can’t name them all. We are living in a “screen” age, but I tend to gravitate towards things made with physical tools that exist in a three-dimensional space.

Favorite Element: I spent a lot of time on my couch. The layered edge of materiality contrast simply brought out by a natural oil finish. The cathedral figure wood grain is so beautiful, I can imagine time frozen in the arrangement of fibers, the warm touch and the substantial mass. It’s levitated by thin lines of piping and exposed fixtures. The natural Belgian linen cover is soft and casual. The idea was conceived for an industrial factory space where I used to live with the intention to warm it up while expressing the essentials. I like that it’s versatile and still maintains its character in this new home.

Biggest Challenge: Archiving projects, the materials and colors I collect—what to keep, what to trash, what to not bring home from a trip in Japan. I always want to bring everything, even a paper placemat from a restaurant made to look like seaweed.

What Friends Say: “When did you make this?” or “Where did you get that?” I’m happy to keep it interesting and surprise people every time they visit.

Biggest Embarrassment: For my projects, I often want to build and paint things in my loft. I tried using spray-paint once inside (NEVER do that). The minute I pressed the nozzle I knew it was a bad idea. The fumes made me sick immediately. If somebody were to invent non-toxic spray paint with no odor or VOCs, I would be all over it, in fact I would volunteer to do color development for it. After that accident, I just have made some rules for what I can do inside, and made a simple PVC booth to contain the damage if I will do any messy work.

Proudest DIY: Assigned what plant to go in which pot and designed the arrangements to keep them lively. My plants make me really happy.

Biggest Indulgence: Taking more than 3 months on making a couch I love. If I were to spend the money elsewhere I would probably forget about those experiences a lot sooner. It was a clear and simple design process; focus on proportion, comfort, and appropriate materiality make the product emotionally lasting, which is something I constantly want to archive in my profession making products.

Best Advice: Experiment with colors and have fun. Go for something that’s functional and emotionally durable. If nothing off the shelf works in your style, or you just need something unique, commission a specialist- it’s worth the work and money.

Dream Sources: Bike things: B1866 London
Lighting: FOSCARINI, FLOS, custom-made
Rug: Ruckstuhl, Jan Kath, Nanimarquina
Coffee Table Books: 10 Corso Como
Kitchen Supplies: la Rinascente, Printempts, Galeries Lafayette
Household Items: Manufactum Munich, Muuto Design, Good Design Shop Tokyo, Colette Pari, Merci Paris, Design House Stockholm, Hay, Cargo Milano, Design Republic Shanghai
Furniture: 1st Dibs, JF Chen, B&B Italia, Cassini, Vitra, custom-made by local craftsman


(Image credit: Erin Galvin)


  • Overall: Behr Marquee in Nano White
  • Bedroom: custom match
  • Living Room: custom match
(Image credit: Erin Galvin)


  • Couch: by Echo
  • Wool ball carpet: Target
  • Coffee table: by Echo
  • Steel and glass side table: estate sale
  • Side chair: Melrose Trading Post
  • Plant bench: by Echo
  • California Winter bottle: Heath Ceramic
  • Plants: Lee’s Orchid and other plant stores on San Pedro St.
  • Pots: CB2, Lee’s Orchid
  • Yellow file cabinet: estate sale
  • White glass bottle: Good Design Shop Tokyo
  • The Skinline (Photography): by Echo
  • Underworld// Social (grid of black & white Polaroids): by John Sisley, compositions of a black and white dumpling-making party at Echo’s home
(Image credit: Erin Galvin)


  • Work tables: estate sale
  • Slanted shelf: IKEA
  • File cabinets: estate sale
  • Plant stools: by Echo, made at a local L.A. metal-welding shop.
  • Void frame: by Echo
  • White geo shapes: by Echo
  • Diamond block print: by Christopher Faczek, blue ink on cream cotton paper
  • Stendig calendar: by Massimo Vegellini, Paperhaus, West Hollywood
  • Cobalt resin tray: Tina Frey, Alchemy Works in Arts District
(Image credit: Erin Galvin)


  • TÄRENDÖ table: IKEA
  • Brass candleholders: CB2
  • Broom stool: Philippe Starck, Emeco
  • DAW chair: Charles and Ray Eames, DWR
  • Ceramic crane: by Echo, Made at Bitter Root Pottery
  • Market bag: Apolis, Arts District
(Image credit: Erin Galvin)


  • Sake bottle: Narita Airport
  • Acacia end-grain chopping board: Amazon
  • Kinto wood tray: Common Thread Studio
(Image credit: Erin Galvin)


  • Bed frame: West Elm
  • Numbers: by Echo
  • Cachalot block print: by Christopher Faczek, ink on cream cotton paper
  • Candle: Archipelago Havana Soy Candle
  • STAVE Mirror: IKEA
  • SEKOND Cord Set: IKEA
  • INGERT Curtain: IKEA
  • BEKVÄM Night Stand: IKEA
(Image credit: Erin Galvin)


  • ÖSTANÅ Wall Lamp: IKEA
  • Bathmat: Target

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Thanks, Echo!