The studio values the strength of the collective mind, believing that authentic creativity and innovation come from collaboration. The true virtuosity of their work comes from their collaborations with each other as well as with other members of the community. Since its inception, Commune Design has worked with artists and craftsmen across the U.S. and beyond.
Founded by Roman Alonso, Steven Johanknecht, Pamela Shamshiri, and Ramin Shamshiri, Commune Design is noted for its eclectic assemblages that work in harmony with their surroundings, while paying homage to historical, traditional, and international design. The firm’s environmental sympathies are expressed in their conscientious selection of materials and echoed in their appreciation for original architecture and its elements.
Roman Alonso was born in Caracas, Venezuela. Upon graduation from Boston University with a Bachelor of Science in film and art history, Roman began working in publishing at Connoisseur and Mirabella magazines in New York. He then moved on to public relations and marketing, first at Barneys New York where he was the Director of Corporate PR and then at Isaac Mizrahi & Co where he was Vice President and Image Director. In 1998, he co-founded Greybull Press in Los Angeles, an art publishing company focusing on photographic books.
Steven Johanknecht grew up in upstate New York. Following studies in Communication Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Steven spent a year in Rome with Temple University graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Tyler School of Art. He moved to New York City where he became Vice President of Display and Store Design for Barneys New York during twelve of the store’s most influential years. He later worked as the Vice President of Retail Design for Donna Karan, Retail Image Director for Banana Republic and Design Director for Studio Sofield.
Pamela Shamshiri was born in Tehran, Iran, and raised in Los Angeles. Upon graduation from Smith College with a Bachelor of Arts in architecture and art history, she attended New York University where she earned her Master of Fine Arts in production design. In 1998, Pam returned to Los Angeles and co-found Sham Interior Design & Events with her brother, Ramin. She traveled around the world working as a production designer on films and music videos with directors such as Lasse Hallström, Spike Lee and Phil Morrison and for commercial clients including Nike, Vogue, Sony, AT&T and the Bronx Zoo.
The firm has gained quite a lot of awards and titles for their work:
The AD 100 | 2016
Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Interior Design | 2015
Elle Decor A-List | 2015
Wallpaper Magazine Design Awards: Best New Hotel (American Trade Hotel, Panama City, Panama) | 2015
Conde Nast Traveler: Gold List (American Trade Hotel, Panama City, Panama) | 2015
Hospitality Design Awards: Best Luxury Upscale Hotel (American Trade Hotel, Panama City, Panama) | 2015
IHMRS Gold Key Awards: Best Eco or Socially Conscious Hotel (American Trade Hotel, Panama City, Panama) | 2014
LABC Los Angeles Architectural Awards: Hospitality Category (Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles) | 2014
Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award (Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles) | 2014
Wallpaper Magazine, Best Urban Hotel Awards: Runner Up (Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles) | 2014
Interior Design Projects by Studio Commune Design
Santa Anita Cabin Angeles National Forest, 2019
Our intent was to blend a variety of inspirations within the original hundred year old historic cabin. We looked at Swedish and French chalets, Japanese and Shaker design details all through the framework of utility and function. Every bit of space was utilized creating places to stash gear and organize clutter for a weekend trip… All materials and furnishings were transported down a narrow canyon path by pack mule or hand built wheel barrel.
Santa Cruz Beach House Santa Cruz, California. 2020
This residence, located on a bluff above a surf break in Santa Cruz, California was designed in collaboration with Feldman Architecture. The house, lined inside and out with Monterey Cypress salvaged locally by Evan Shively at Arborica, was handcrafted with a keen eye for detail by RJL Construction. Other natural materials; including soapstone, plaster, concrete and unlacquered copper and brass, were chosen for their propensity to patina with time, particularly in the salt air. A conceit based on a ‘professor who surfs’ provided inspiration for interiors filled with a number of commissions from a long list of artists, artisans and designers including Stan Bitters, Tripp Carpenter, Tanya Aguiniga, Doug McCollough, Alma Allen, BBDW, Sam Malouf and Nakashima Workshops; mixed with custom upholstered seating, vintage furnishings, found objects and lots of books. The goal was to achieve spaces that feel free-spirited but intellectual, casual and highly practical yet fully considered.
Handcrafted Modern San Francisco, California. 2019
Designed in collaboration with Feldman Architecture, this 5000 square foot residence in San Francisco was handcrafted from the ground up. Inspired by modernist Scandinavian architecture, the house has a limited material palette of lime washed Norman brick, black terracotta tile, plaster, copper, blackened bronze and salvaged local redwood, walnut and elm. All cabinetry, doors, windows and railings were handcrafted as well as all decorative elements including the Stan Bitters fireplace in the outdoor living room. The young clients wanted a home “to grow old in” with interiors that are classic, inviting and layered with commissioned furniture pieces, custom rugs and vintage furnishings.
Santa Monica Apartment Santa Monica, California. 2018
Renovation of a 3,000 square foot apartment in a 1960s building in Santa Monica, California. Floor plan was reconfigured to connect all rooms and open them up to views of the Malibu Coast. Everything in the property was fully customized to the client and their request to “bring in the outdoors” was achieved through the use of a color palette inspired by Le Corbusier’s Maison La Roche.
Marin Compound Marin County, California. 2017
Renovation of a ten acre vacation compound in Northern California, including a main house, originally built in the 1930s, two tents and two cabins. The goal was to enhance the interiors with handcrafted millwork and furniture pieces by local artisans, as well as a large selection of objects and furnishings, ultimately creating an elevated camping experience for a family of six.
Renovation of a historic Spanish Colonial 7,500 square foot home in Beverly Hills, including all interiors and reconfiguration of second floor to carve out a large master suite, including his/her dressing areas, bath and office. The interiors reflect the owner’s love of color and mix of furnishings. Hand stenciled motifs and custom tiles added further personalized touches.
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