James Bond co-founded the high-end sneaker line Undefeated. Artist and community arts advocate Karen Kimmel just launched a line of abstract children’s stencils in design destinations such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art store.
But when the couple come home, they leave work lives behind. For Bond and Kimmel, home is about family.
It’s a statement they make in two ways. First, at a time when the line between professional and personal lives has never been finer, it’s something of a departure that the couple’s 2,800-square-foot house in Los Feliz Estates is without a home office.
“Home life is so important,” Kimmel says. “Not having it interface with your work life is just as important.”
Second, the couple have declared that their love of art and design would not be restrained by the arrival of children. When Bond and Kimmel moved into their three-bedroom house a decade ago, neither of their two kids had been born. And though paintings, photography and classic pieces of furniture have since turned the Midcentury Modern residence into something of a personal gallery, not a single square foot is off-limits to daughter Jersey, 7, son Ace, 3, or their 9-year-old American Staffordshire terrier, Peaches.
“If you’re going to put real effort into decorating a room, you deserve to use it and make it accessible to the people in your house,” Kimmel says. “Some people use their dining rooms once a year. Not us.”
Kimmel, the formally trained artist of the family, decorated the space entirely. “She had free rein!” Bond shouts from the kitchen into the dining room, where Kimmel confirms in a whisper that, well, yes, she might have bullied her husband “a little” on some pieces.
Ace and Jersey have their art workstation, complete with four kid-sized Harry Bertoia chairs, smack in the middle of the living room. There they draw with the abstract art stencils that Kimmel created to teach children that life isn’t so much about coloring within the lines as it is drawing your own boundaries.
What if they go too far? Do Mom and Dad ever worry that a prized painting or armchair might sustain injury?
“It doesn’t mean there are no rules,” Kimmel says, and accidents will happen. When Ace was 8 months old, she took him to LACMA and he promptly drooled on a Jenny Holzer installation that, much to everyone’s relief, was made of marble. “Today he scooters into the Kai Regan sneaker photograph at the end of the hall all the time, and Jersey puts her hands on the Thomas Campbell artwork in the kitchen. It happens.”
And Kimmel and Bond don’t panic. They also don’t save for their children in a traditional way. Instead they invest in art at least once a year, giving certain pieces to each child. “They can either decide to sell it at a certain point in their life or, if they love it, they can keep it,” Kimmel says.
The parents insist on not dumbing-down art selections, for themselves or for their children. Though some of the purchases may not have the instant kid-appeal of zoo animals, Kimmel says her son and daughter do grow attached to serious artwork hung in their rooms, often getting upset when Mom or Dad switches out a piece.
In Jersey’s room, hanging along with one of her favorite drawings from preschool, are sherbet-toned, cartoon-faced pieces by Campbell and Chris Johanson. Surrounding her daughter with interesting work might inspire a passion for art as an adult, Kimmel says. Or not. “Maybe as she grows up, it will seep in,” she says. “Art is like visual vitamins. You take them but it is hard to explain exactly how they work. You just know you feel better.”
One piece in the master bedroom by Raymond Pettibon, the contemporary artist known for work that incorporates ironic and sometimes disturbing text, contains the F-word.
“Jersey just asked what it said the other day,” Kimmel says. “Without a doubt the verbal and visual language we share with our children shapes them. Our take as parents is we try not to hide from the darker sides of the human condition; instead we try to provide context as it is appropriate, and be honest without being too overwhelming or scary.”
Then in a lighter tone she adds: “I’ll let you know how they turn out in about 20 years.”
Kimmel and Bond, whose eclectic collection includes Andy Warhol and Sister Corita, also emphasize that art doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. Kimmel likens art to dating.
“You like people for different reasons,” she says. “At different stages of your life you’re attracted to different things. That’s the same for James and me. We started collecting at a certain place and then evolved as a couple and then a family. As we become a bigger family, we have less money for art.”
She and Bond often buy at local auctions run by LACMA or the Museum of Contemporary Art. “It’s a great way to collect local art and get a good deal,” Kimmel says. “Anyone can just buy a ticket and show up.”
She follows the philosophy of buying what you like. Sometimes it appreciates in value, and sometimes it doesn’t, but if you love the piece it doesn’t matter. “If it happens to be a good investment, that’s the cherry on top.”
The Margaret Kilgallen may hang in the dining area and the Eames lounge chair may sit in the master bedroom, but the house’s marquee gallery lies in the kitchen: the refrigerator door, reserved for Ace and Jersey’s best works, Bond says. “The first time Ace made it on the fridge was a big deal.”