Aaron and Claire Van Holland know a thing or two about turning lemons into lemonade. Their business, a reclaimed furniture company known as MFEO, sprung from the proverbial ashes of a dilapidated barn that Aaron had inherited from his grandfather. The couple had been toying with the idea of starting a design company, something that combined their interests in handicraft, repurposed materials, and utilitarian design. Aaron’s grandfather’s barn, beyond repair but ripe for repurposing, presented an opportunity that was too good to pass up. Using wood sourced directly from the barn, Aaron and Claire began crafting contemporary housewares and furnishings to create the line that eventually became MFEO. With products that are simple, beautiful, and functional, this affinity for sustainable materials and timeless design continues to influence their work. Los Angeles-based photographer Jessica Comingore recently stopped by Aaron and Claire’s studio to get a behind-the-scenes look at their process. Check out the photos below + shop MFEO on westelm.com!
Tell us about your studio space.
Lodged in-between cabinet makers, upholsterers, and screen printers, our current workshop is located in the industrial district of North Hollywood. The often dusty, but organized studio enables us to consistently produce our collection of smaller housewares while still having sufficient space to build larger, made-to-order pieces such as beds and tables.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Work days vary widely depending on the specific project and where we are in its production process. A day may be spent making table tops—selecting and processing the lumber, glue-ups, sanding, and finally applying the finish coats. Another day might be allocated to assembling, packing and shipping a batch of our Troika mirrors. Other days are reserved for prototyping new designs.
Where do you seek inspiration?
The collection we’re currently working on pulls influence from dystopian sci-fi films of the 1970s, with a more optimistic take on those modern, minimal living spaces. Their vision of daily life in the future looked so simple compared to the complexity of present day.
Why do you love LA?
It’s what’s outside of the city that we find most appealing. Pick a direction and you can find yourself at the beach, on the mountains or in the desert. The ability to escape the city and experience such diversity in nature and terrain provides us a sense of balance while living in Los Angeles.
Photography by Jessica Comingore