Project Spotlight: Union Cowork, LA Arts District

Union Cowork is the kind of place where exciting things happen. The coworking space, with six locations across southern California, is a “neighborhood-centric” brand—each spot is intentionally designed to reflect the unique vibe of its neighborhood and membership.

We caught up with Sara Simon of Handsome Salt Interiors, the designer for the Union Cowork location in the LA Arts District, a charming and walkable neighborhood experiencing a wave of redevelopment and revival. Read on to learn more about Sara and her firm, her thoughts on the future of coworking, and the Industry West pieces she has her eyes on for future projects!


Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into design.

I am an LA native—I went to college here in LA and studied business. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do after college, but knew I liked to be creative. I landed a job at a marketing agency after getting my MBA and spent five years grinding it out and learning what I did not want to do. I left the agency and freelanced for a fashion designer in NYC and traveled back to work NY Fashion Weeks twice a year for the next two years.

In the midst of that, my husband and I bought a home in LA and we quickly remodeled it. Then, through friends and family, I began to get inquiries to help people with their homes (which, at the time, I thought was crazy—because I really didn't believe I was doing anything special). Everything just started to fall into place and I began to feel super fulfilled by what I was doing.

My husband then decided to get into real estate development, and we joined forces and the rest is history. People always ask if I went to school for design and I definitely did not, I simply had a passion and followed it. I hit some bumps along the way but learned from them all and pressed on. 

Your firm is Handsome Salt, based in LA and NYC. Tell us about your firm and what kind of projects you usually take on (and which are your favorites)!

I typically work with developers. I have worked on everything from residential to multi-family to co-working spaces (and will be getting into hospitality here soon so stay tuned ;) ). Every project has been unique and very different and special in its own way. Nothing I have done is cookie-cutter, which is something I love about my job. I love the Union LA coworking space and my latest residential project Casita Leu is hands down my favorite to date. 

 

Union Cowork in the LA Arts District is a vibrant, modern coworking space in one of the most walkable neighborhoods in LA, and the fun and colorful interior reflects the culture of the area. What was the concept and inspiration behind the bold design?

Because Union Cowork is right smack in the center of The Arts District, I wanted to play off of the neighborhood, bring in local artists and make the place pop in color to make the space feel as vibrant as the neighborhood. I wanted every corner you turned to be a photo op. The coworking space will be home for many creatives and needed to be a place that brought energy and would allow those creative minds to flourish. 

 


“The coworking space will be home for many creatives and needed to be a place that brought energy and would allow those creative minds to flourish."

COVID has changed so much about how we work—how do you think coworking spaces like Union Cowork are having to adapt now that fewer people are going into a typical office space?

I think coworking spaces are going to see an influx of members. It will only be a matter of time before people just can't work at home anymore for many reasons and will need a dedicated space if their main office is still closed. Coworking allows people to have their own private space that feels safe and clean and is separated from the distractions of home life. 

 

We love that you chose such funky (and comfy!) IW pieces for the different spaces in Union Cowork. If you had to pick, which is your favorite?

My favorite would have to be the Plume Lounge Chairs. I just love the shape of them and the color. They were meant to be in the space and they are super comfy!

 

Are there any IW pieces in particular that you have your eye on for future projects?

Definitely eyeing a few items including the Larsen Lounge Chair, Lark Terrazzo Dining Table and the Cane Bed

What’s your top design tip to share for people who want to make their own workspace work for them?

Functionality! I think sometimes people really get stuck on the design of something and don't think of the functionality and practicality of everyday use.