Kalon on finding the space to feel at ease

Kalon on finding the space to feel at ease

Michaele Simmering and Johannes Pauwen, founders of sustainable US furniture brand Kalon, on the spaces – both physical and mental – that recharge them…

Johannes Pauwen

A ‘hole-and-corner’ is an old English term meaning a secret place: somewhere you go to escape the world, to be inspired and to contemplate and create. Where is your ‘hole-and-corner’?
It is everywhere and nowhere. It’s not a physical place but one I can escape to by myself. It is a space that allows my mind to sift through the day’s events and drift to new places. In the past, I often visited while travelling on a bus or a plane. Repetitive rhythms like the lane markers on the road would start the drift to this place. Now, I often enter this space sitting alone on my deck towards evening, staring out at the flurry of leaves on the live oak in the back yard. Once there, the quiet is filled with colour and movement, with scenes from my life, with imagined scenes and imagined problems which require imaginative solving. Ideas take shape, material takes form as my mind flows freely through them and what it has gathered. This place is my supercharger for creativity, recharging a battery that gets worn down by the demands of daily life.

What do you like to listen to when you’re working?
I no longer listen to music when I work. It’s not that I don’t like it or that it is disruptive, I just have no need for it anymore. I am equally happy to be focused on and captivated by the work.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
‘Nichts kommt von nichts’ (‘nothing comes from nothing’) – a phrase given to me by my late grandfather, Dr Julius Pauwen. I now have the pleasure of sharing this great wisdom with my own children.



Michaele Simmering

Where is your ‘hole-and-corner’?
I go to ‘The Narrows’ – a spit of ever-changing sand where a river meets the ocean. It’s not a place I get to go daily; it’s a once-a-year recharge where I go every day for about a month. I spend hours alone there and all of the events of the year flush out of me. It’s a giant emptying in a place where there’s no phone, no computer, no one asking me questions, nothing to focus on except the current and the tides. Everything settles and things that seemed important fall away. A space opens and new ideas bubble up. There’s an incredible clarity to the ideas that come to me there as if they’ve already happened. It’s unlike anything I experience for the rest of the year.

Is it private to you or do you let other people visit?
I love taking people there. Some people get it right away and totally fall in love with the place. So much of what I get done there is internal and I kind of sink into that place mentally. Other people become part of the backdrop. If I’m not getting enough alone time there, I adjust when I go to different hours of the day. Or I just wait people out. If I didn’t have the whole month, it would be different.

Is it important to you to have somewhere to escape form the hustle and bustle of life?
It’s important for me to get outside and be around trees or water once a day. The ocean is best. Unless I travel, truly escaping the daily hustle isn’t really possible for me, but daily contact with nature keeps me centred for the long stretch of time between my visits to The Narrows. When I’m at The Narrows I go deep and it lasts me for months.

What do you like to listen to when you’re working?
It depends what I’m working on, but generally, I don’t like to listen to anything because I get caught up in music. It carries my thoughts and emotions to different places and I like to go along for the ride. When I’m working, I like to follow my own path without being pulled away by music.

What elements do you think make a perfect ‘hole-and-corner’?
A place without distractions. Everyone’s distractions are different. And an environment that naturally puts you at ease. For me that’s water. I spend so much time in my head, I can never stop my thoughts but when I’m looking at the ocean, everything goes quiet.



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