When was the last time you looked around your neighborhood coffee shop and didn’t see a single laptop? Have you ever attended a picturesque dinner party void of cellphones?
In a world driven by technology, escaping the pressure to be plugged-in is rare, which is why it’s important to have a place where you can kick back, relax, and power off. Jake Strom, a resident of sunny Venice, California, has been lucky enough to find his personal paradise within the comfort of his own apartment. Appropriately named the “Zen Bungalow” for its small size, bungalow-like design, and calming ambiance, Jake feels at ease whenever he walks through the door. However, there’s more to his apartment than its unique name and relaxing atmosphere—the space is a reflection of his passion for travel and global connection.
The rapid development of technology over the past decade has both complicated and simplified life. There’s more to do, think about, and remember, but there are endless tools available to help accomplish each task. Before launching his design project, Jake could barely fathom the concept of working online with a designer, let alone how easy it could be.
“At first I thought that I’d want to meet the designer in person, but I quickly realized that was totally unnecessary. I was able to connect to this incredible designer, who had the exact eye and style I was looking for, without the limitation of geography.”
Not letting geographical boundaries get in his way is a theme for Jake. “Traveling makes me really happy. Every year I go on an epic adventure with my best friend and I wanted that to be shown in my space.” When he saw his love for worldly adventures captured in the style board Laurel & Wolf Designer Yekii Killion submitted to his project, he knew she was the one he wanted to work with.
As one of TOMS’ earliest employees, Jake has exercised his passion for travel and global connection by participating in Giving Trips to South Africa, Uruguay, Argentina, and Honduras. A reclaimed wood floating shelf holds a series of travel books ranging from Japan to Panama—both places he has recently visited. Yekii brought Jake’s traveler’s perspective to the space through the use of unique, hand-made pieces with an eclectic and personalized vibe.
Because the space is rather small, Yekii felt it was important to maintain a clean and functional aesthetic. Picking pieces that would make the space feel both streamlined and lived-in, she made good use of the small floorplan by pairing essential items with those that communicate the masculine, bohemian style of Jake’s apartment.
“The collaboration mostly involved scaling back to the essential pieces, then placement of art and accessories, given the space constraints and layout,” says Yekii on the design process. To tie everything together, she brought vibrant textiles and industrial items into the design.
After just a week of correspondence, Jake’s design was complete and ready to be installed. “It almost felt like magic—you’re taking really great talent and you’re connecting them with people that need a service. And it’s so simple that within a week we designed the space, I ordered everything, and it was ready to go.”
Jake’s favorite part of the process was the ‘Buy for Me’ feature, which allowed him to purchase everything for his design with the click of a button. “What’s fun about ‘Buy for Me’ is that everything comes in stages, so it’s almost like time-lapse photography—over a week or two all of the different pieces come together and when you finally look at it after the last piece comes, you see that it all works and everything has its place.”
With a streamlined design, serene colors, and an eclectic array of decor, the Zen Bungalow is now a perfect embodiment of its name. “When I come home to the Zen Bungalow, whether it’s after a few weeks of traveling on an epic adventure, or after a long day, I feel so at home. This place is so peaceful to me.”
While staying in constant communication via phone and social media can be stressful, there’s an equal amount of ease and opportunity that comes from technology.
“Technology is a beautiful thing in that it connects people that might not meet each other in person,” Jake remarks. As an avid adventurer, interacting with new people and exploring other cultures is a big part of Jake’s life, and the eclectic design of his space could not have been possible without the client-designer connection made through technology.