Local Beach Lifestyle Meets the Purity of Modern Scandinavian Design in Hermosa Beach
Situated just five miles south of the heart of Los Angeles is the small yet lively and completely laid-back SoCal seaside city of Hermosa Beach. For Farnaz and Steve Reneker, the tiny South Bay community, just 1.3 miles square, is a place that embodies the good life, a place where their love for design can build and thrive.
“What we’ve built is sort of a monument, a way to curate a selection of products that we love and that one can live with,” said Farnaz, co-owner of design studio and warehouse Hermosa Design.
“I knew I wanted to find something that could marry my passions for architecture and design.”
The Renekers acquired the appropriately titled studio nearly six years ago, believing it to be a natural extension of Farnaz’s established architectural firm, Studio Argente. They located and transformed their space within the Industrial District—just a few blocks from the sunny strand of Hermosa Beach. The couple soon garnered attention from locals, artists, and tourists alike. Currently they continue to gain publicity for their ever-growing, ingenious creative contributions—within art and design—to their, and the global, community.
As designers and builders, Farnaz and Steve both bring a unique knowledge base to their joint business. With her first love being architecture, Farnaz began her career in corporate architectural design, following her studies at the University of Maryland. And Steve has 15 years of experience as a contractor, specializing in design-build services for corporate businesses.
A Creative Journey
When asked what prompted her and her husband to embark on a new creative venture, Farnaz explained, “I think I found this aha moment after moving throughout the East Coast for a while. I worked on various high-end commercial architecture and interior design projects, ranging from creative offices, law firms, retail spaces, and a lot of office interiors in New York and Washington, D.C. But I knew I wanted to find something that could marry my passions for architecture and design.”
The couple’s mutual affection for all things design drew them to create a place that spoke to their appreciation of contemporary beach living—and the purity that comes from Scandinavian design.
Following her move cross-country, and after landing first in West Hollywood, Farnaz met Steve. She said Steve already had it in his mind that Hermosa Beach was the place he wished to eventually settle and build a life—and a business. And now that the couple is raising two young children, the close-knit community offers everything they’ve desired to effectively balance career and family life. After all, their design eye is inspired by the lifestyle that is genuinely SoCal, drawn from the storied surfing waters and sandy beaches just down the street.
Being a California native, Steve was looking to make Hermosa Beach a place that people truly seek out and take note of. “I was always inspired to make our immediate beach surrounding more beautiful—kind of like if you were to be riding your beach cruiser down the strand, and you were to see a Marimekko umbrella stand out,” he said. ”Doing our part to bring good design and aesthetically pleasing products to the mainstream is the real goal.”
A Common Modern Design Direction
From such ambition, the couple’s mutual affection for all things design drew them to create a place that spoke to their appreciation of contemporary beach living—and the purity that comes from Scandinavian design. With Southern California’s dense population, and many homes or buildings in close proximity, Farnaz said that having very little space indoors makes the minimalism of Scandinavian design particularly attractive. From what she sees, the functionalism that Scandinavian design brings is an ongoing trend throughout the South Bay.
“It’s very transitional, in terms of the aesthetic,” Farnaz said. “While beachy blue and sea like colors may be popular throughout homes, especially contemporary residences, it may be different for others, such as more architecturally driven clients. They often look to the ‘white-on-whites’ that tie into Scandinavian design. Many homes are smaller, with no room for clutter, so they really need to be well-made, functional, and beautiful.”
In addition, Scandinavian heritage contributes to the duo’s fascination with the modern design style. Steve’s grandmother and her sisters emigrated from Finland, making the trend that much more appealing.
“I envision spaces to have white walls with functional, minimal, and beautiful furniture and accessories, with colorful accents of blankets, pillows, or art,” Steve said. “Ultimately, the people that inhabit the space should provide the life and excitement. I grew up on Southern California beaches and have seen firsthand the changes in design and fashions. I am really inspired by the different styles and trends that you see on beaches around the world. And when I met Farnaz, she opened my eyes to the whole design world that I did not know existed—it sparked a fire in my creative spirit.”
Meet Hermosa Design
Developed from this creative spirit, Hermosa Design presents a unique combination of design space and retail store. So when it comes to choosing merchandise and product offerings for both in-store and online, Steve noted, “We select products that are well designed, authentic, relevant to our beach lifestyle, timeless, sustainable, usually have rich histories, and contribute positively to our local economy. We are drawn to brands that have as many of these qualities as possible, but most importantly, they have to be relevant to our own brand—and are able to have an impact on people’s lives.” Such items include furniture, like a modern wooden bookcase crafted from solid English walnut. Or a soft-gray Aztec print blanket, hand-knitted from 100 percent Jacquard woven cotton. Hermosa Design even carries items specifically designed for children, like front- and rear-facing bike seats and a foldable wood-frame kids’ tent.
“Doing our part to bring good design and aesthetically pleasing products to the mainstream is the real goal.”
In addition, Farnaz and Steve developed the Hermosa Box, a monthly subscription box that contains a selection of favored lifestyle products. Customers receive one to three items at a $75 to $95 value, with the ability to customize their selection based on categories. And to add an extra-special touch, each item comes with its own product story—providing insight to the individual craftsmanship and inspiration.
Creating a Community
Farnaz and Steve are also committed to having their space be one that gives back, a place to “bring about an eclectic crowd, which results in stimulating conversations and exchanges.” They host various events that benefit art education within the local Hermosa Beach community. The most recent one was “extra/Ordinary” by artist Rafael McMaster.
“The objective of the project was to create an inspiring macrophotography series captured by first-grade students," Steve explained. "We had all the kids and parents in our space to view a video show of all the ‘select’ images. This was priceless, and left a lasting artistic impression on the kids!” And this past November, the studio hosted a fall fest, partnering with winemakers and breweries, giving a portion of the proceeds back to local Hermosa Beach City Schools.
With any exhibit, the couple chooses to “feature artists whose creative visions align with our own.” Farnaz said in terms of subject matter that, “it’s usually abstract, nature-inspired work.” Most often it is a showcase of local talent, yet sometimes it can be a on a larger scale.
“When we decide on an exhibit, we select artists and their work based on what will appeal most to our architect and designer contacts, other professional contacts, and local followers. We also consider the established followers of an artist so the show will be a success from significant traffic,” Steve noted. Recently a Danish painter from New York approached them, hoping to have a show in Los Angeles, and to make use of Hermosa Design’s mellow Zen atmosphere. It appears that the studio’s popularity is vast and forming a reputation.
Now that Studio Argente and Hermosa Design have both proven to be successful endeavors, Design in Color L.A. is eager to see what the future holds for the creative pair. Farnaz said that both “commercial and residential projects are underway, some in construction, while others still in the design phase.” According to Steve, we’ll need to “stay tuned.” What we do know is that whatever comes next for the couple is sure to reflect the beloved namesake Hermosa, and will be reminiscent of the beautiful shores they will always love to call home.