Just one floor up from "Scale," Cool Hunting's curatorial contribution to Noho Design District at the Standard Hotel, the work of 12 West Coast designers was on view in the "Hotel California" exhibition. Among the group was Scout Regalia, a multidisciplinary design practice based in LA's Echo Park neighborhood. Co-founders and architects Benjamin Luddy and Makoto Mizutani have built a body of work spanning furniture, home goods and graphic design, as well as larger outdoor projects that range in scale from a home in the Hollywood Hills to urban planning for Red Hook, Brooklyn to trail registries in the Southern California desert. They're most proud of their work for the WPA 2.0 competition, which challenged designers to look at a new Works Progress Administration program. "We created a multivalent proposal that looked at changing the way people work, eat, live and link called the WELLness Campaign."
"Aesthetically and ethically, our furniture line is a good representation of how we want to work and the timeless style that we aspire to create," say the designers. "Working with local fabricators and makers is very important to us. Supporting local industries is vital in supporting a sustainable cycle of business and design. Our entire furniture line is made in LA with local fabricators and manufacturers. The SR Outdoor Table Sets use dimensional lumber with powder coated aluminum—the juxtaposition sums up our aesthetic in a lot of ways."
Expanding upon their already broad range, Scout Regalia now includes bicycles. The handbuilt prototypes for their bike line, decked out in handmade black ash baskets by Jamin Uticone, canvas panniers by Winter Session, leather Brooks saddles and wool camp blankets by Topo Designs grabbed our attention at Hotel California. We caught up with Luddy and Mizutani to ask them how the new bike line came about.
You've designed furniture, graphics and outdoor projects, but never a bike. How did the Scout Regalia Bike come about?
The Scout Regalia Bicycle is our vision for an American bicycle that combines performance with style, and design with craftsmanship. We've been working on the design of the frame for about a year and a half now. We've always been interested in the design challenges of a bicycle and Ben has been an avid cyclist his whole life. We wanted the Scout Regalia Bicycle to take its cues from three distinct bicycle typologies: the English/Dutch town bike, a cycle truck and a mountain bike—all with a distinctly American feel.
Most importantly, we wanted to work with an American bike frame builder. We were lucky to work with David Wilson out of Philadelphia who really brought our design to life. He's been a wonderful collaborator, and working with such a knowledgeable bike-maker was incredibly helpful in bringing the details of the frame to life. The Scout Regalia bicycle, more than any other piece of furniture or product we've ever designed, was truly a collaborative effort.
The challenge now is to see what parts we can machine and how we can cost-effectively create the frame. We're working with Wilson right now to see how we can streamline some of the fabrication. These prototypes were completely built by hand—even the dropouts were cut out by hand!
What components are you using?
The Scout Regalia Bicycle is based around our unisex "mixte"-style steel frame. Components include a nine-speed internally geared rear hub, a front dyno hub with light disc brakes, double-leg kickstand, Brooks saddle and 29-inch tires with fenders. The nine-gears make it easy to get up hills and the internal gearing makes for clean lines—both were really important to us. The rear rack is integrated into the frame and is strong enough to carry someone on the back. The front rack is attached to the frame/steering tube, not the fork/front wheel, so whatever you carry on the front rack stays straight even while you're turning. The two-tone, powder-coated finish emphasizes the front end of this American-made, American-inspired bicycle.
We worked with Winter Session in Chicago to design the rear saddlebags of the bicycle, which fold on to the rear frame and serve double-duty as a padded seat for picking up hitchhiking friends. The custom handwoven black ash basket was made by Swamp Road Baskets of Alpine, NY, and we also have the all-wool camp blanket & accessory straps from Topo Designs of Colorado on the front rack. The accessories will be sold separately from the bike itself.
What are you working on now?
We're currently collaborating with Reunion, a design office in NYC, on a bar and hotel opening in Snowmass, Colorado in late fall/early winter. The projects will incorporate some new furniture we're working on and will explore some fun concepts. We're also working on a public park space with landscape architect Mia Lehrer & Associates and the City of Los Angeles. The park will include seating that is inspired by our White Oak Table Sets. We also have about half a dozen furniture and product designs we're working on in addition to some custom casework.
Any fantasy projects you'd love to work on in the future?
We always talk about designing and building a small "vacation office" outside the city—that would definitely be our fantasy project. When we lived in New York, we designed (but never built) a small office in upstate New York. Now, we're fantasizing about a vacation office in the Eastern Sierras. We'd love to design a little vacation cabin near the Sierras that can be our rural Scout Regalia headquarters.