Versatile ideas for a small live-work space

See how a pair of product designers makes use of every inch of their small home

An R&D lab for living

An R&D lab for living

Every piece of furniture that Makoto Mizutani and Ben Luddy create for their design company, Scout Regalia, is a product of necessity. The couple needed a place to eat but had no dining room in their tiny L.A. cottage, so they designed one for their backyard. They wanted a built-in bookcase but they’re renters, so they came up with a movable one to look the part. They pinpoint each new project, Ben says, “when we’re looking for something as customers, but can’t find it in the marketplace.”

In the process—whether they’re test-driving a pair of bedside tables (and realizing that their original design doesn’t work particularly well for stacking magazines), or watching how the wood weathers on that outdoor table—Makoto and Ben have turned both house and garden into an R&D lab for living.

“We do it all,” Ben says, “from designing the product to building it to getting it on the website, marketing it, and shipping it ourselves.” A mere 650 square feet is small for a two-person home, though, much less one that also serves as a do-it-all workspace. The couple’s secret weapon? The back­yard, which is a full extra lot––almost 4,000 square feet. “It’s an ideal testing ground for new Scout Regalia projects,” says Makoto. “Especially here in Los Angeles, where we can be outdoors year-round.” Besides, she adds, their old Brooklyn apartment was just 300 square feet. “This feels like so much space.”

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