Hermosa native Lynn Pépe discusses her design roots, love of construction and keeping the tree of creativity alive.
Written by Constance Dunn | Photography by Paul Jonason
It’s a Friday afternoon and designer Lynn Pépe (pronounced pāyp) is quietly working with her team in her airy Hermosa Beach studio, conveniently situated at the end of a cul-de-sac filled with small-business creative types and adjacent to a lively, kid-filled park.
The South Bay native, who opened Pépe Studios 10 years ago and built her business to the point of being in demand with architects and builders, now works by referral only. Despite the rigors of the job, which necessitates an eagle’s eye on budgets and details while always pushing into new creative spheres—lassoed by client-friendly pragmatism, of course—Pépe has a welcoming ease about her, from her smile and sun-drenched waves to the thoughtful pauses she takes to ponder each question.
STARTING FROM SCRATCH
“Every project we do is so different,” says Pépe. Yes, but peruse her projects, from Modernist to Mediterranean, and a recurrent theme threads through them all: an atmosphere of quiet refinement. “I’m kind of known for a more Bohemian aesthetic,” she notes. “Having grown up here and understanding the community and the beach lifestyle, that certainly helps with each project.” But a background layered with traveling and building brings a certain sophistication to the mix.
After studying at FIDM, Pépe’s career began with furniture manufacturing, where she developed new pieces from scratch and took them to market— a vocation that did much to contribute to the designer’s finely tuned sense of environments, scale and textures that add up to finely curated yet ultra-livable spaces she creates. Pépe’s sense of how to fashion a home was also cultivated in large part by her father, the owner of a construction business. As a youngster, she watched her family’s Hermosa Beach home—a 1920s Spanish style structure—undergo a complete remodel, twice. “By the second remodel I was very involved,” says Pépe. “I’m super passionate about construction. I love it.”
It’s not uncommon for Pépe, whose firm specializes in new construction, to be the first member of the team to be brought on board. Pointing to a slew of custom objects that are sitting in her showroom, about to be shipped to a client, she remarks that she’s been working with their soon-to-be-owners since 2012. “We were working with the client before they even selected their architect.”
TEXTILES AND ANTIQUES
Another area of emphasis for Pépe is textiles, an interest that blossomed during her post-college travels through Southeast Asia. “I found my passion for textiles and I brought so many things home,” she says of the trip. Pépe continues to gain heavy design inspiration from this muse, and it’s not uncommon for her to style an entire room around a rug, or develop a palette, from a single textile. Also present in her work is antiques, a device not commonly used by local designers and one Pépe skillfully utilizes to bring “a soulful quality” to a space, along with an atmosphere of timelessness. “You can’t build something and bring that level of history.”
When it comes to finding new blips of creativity or the missing piece of a design puzzle, Pépe can be found flipping through trade publications, checking out fine art, and even fashion. “While shopping at a flea market or going through an antique dealer’s inventory, it might be a color, a texture or pattern—that’s typically where I draw inspiration from,” she says. Other sources come from collaborations with Joshua Weyand, senior designer at her studio, or rambling around on a bike and seeing what’s happening in local construction and design.
Interested in undertaking a DIY design project? Pépe advises non-pros to hone their personal style before buying items in scattershot fashion. “Have an overall plan and a budget,” she says. “And if you don’t have a big budget, and you want to add life to a room, it might be worth investing in a piece of art instead of a lot of little things. Have one giant focal point, or buy a really expensive light fixture before you go buy $10,000 in small items and accessories.”
Other parting gems? “Spend money on good lighting. Spend money on good art. Find something that makes you feel happy when you look at it.”
520 Cypress Avenue
Hermosa Beach CA 90254
310.622.3512 | LynnPepe.com