Written by Constance Dunn
Photography by Paul Jonason
The creative roots of Artistic Habitat reach deep into Mexico, where owners Monica and Carlos Muller were born and raised, and from where much of their standout collection of home decor originates. A display of eye-grabbing wood tables handcrafted in Mexico City—some 20-feet in length and all bursting with sculpted, organic character—meet you when you stroll into the couple’s new South Bay showroom. Then come colorful pillows, hand-loomed by women in a Yucatan Peninsula co-op, and bold glasswork from Orfeo Quagliata, the Mexico City-based son of famed artist Narcissus Quagliata.
“In Mexico, we were constantly exposed to the artisanship that is an innate part of the culture,” explains Monica Muller. “We are preserving this workmanship through a modern interpretation of traditional techniques. We have always felt that there’s a certain dignity in preserving handmade products. It’s nice knowing you own something that’s completely unique.”
Lest you think this design team, which includes daughter Katja, son Alexis and daughter-in-law Andrea, are stylistically wed to one part of the world, a look around their roomy two-story showroom—steps from the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Catalina Avenue, near the border of Hermosa and Redondo Beach—reveals an aesthetic fed from many corners of the globe. “We’re made in Mexico with foreign parts,” says Carlos Muller with a laugh. “Our family comes from a long line of nomads and pioneers, traveling from Europe, United States, Cuba and Argentina, and back around.”
It makes sense, then, that Artistic Habitat offers European antiquities and super-mod French kitchens, along with velvet pouf chairs and smartly upholstered couches by sustainable, LA furniture makers Cisco Brothers. My eye flits to vintage Hollywood studio lights affixed to the ceiling. Below them is a tapestry bench, custom-upholstered with an antique Middle Eastern rug.
“We have friends and family that have been in the business for over thirty years,” notes Monica. “Perfecting and keeping alive old trades, and employing master artisans who meticulously handcraft every piece we bring to you.” Items at Artistic Habitat are distinct, yet the collection is so well-honed that words like “eclectic”
or “funky” never come to mind. The showroom feels thoughtfully individualistic and of-the-moment, or perhaps a few moments beforehand.
The second floor is home to a design studio, “a creative environment where projects can be developed,” says Monica. There’s plenty to stoke your creativity, starting with a wall of hand-distressed wood flooring. “The Sun-Bleached is the most popular in this area,” says Carlos, pointing to a creamy vanilla slab with subtle graining.
The Muller’s, longtime Palos Verdes residents, tell me they select items with the local area in mind. “Many of the homes in the South Bay are walking distance to the ocean,” notes Monica. “The culture is very beach and nature-oriented. We know there is great pride of ownership in this area, and people have an understanding of what it means to have a table made from the slab of a hurricane-tumbled log that’s 100 years old, or floors made from wood that’s hand-aged and finished.”
Wood plays a central theme at Artistic Habitat. “All of our woods are recovered, reclaimed or originate from reforested plantations across Latin America,” says Carlos. “And sourced from Taracea, the factory of our Mexico City partners.” Notable pieces include a grand mirror inlaid with six types of wood, including deep-hued rosewood and orange-tinged Bubinga, and Parquet floors inlaid with regal European patterns that take a master artisan two hours per square foot to complete. I sink into a mod lounging chair that looks as if it were sculpted from a hunk of driftwood, yet feels as comfortable as a La-Z-Boy.
The Muller’s emphasize Artistic Habitat as a place where folks can get a shot of design inspiration or start moving on a project. This open-door policy extends from architects, designers and project managers to homeowners who casually pop in for advice. “We invite people to use our facilities, interact with our products and samples and just be creative,” says Monica. “Remodeling can be overwhelming and stressful, but creating a place to live in is like curating your personal museum. It’s important to find pieces that make you feel something, and create spaces that give you the feeling you’re right where you belong.”
705 N Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, CA 90277 | 310.937.2000 | ArtisticHabitat.com