The Charming Utilitarianism of Scout Regalia

by Maxwell Tielman

I have a bit of a cognitive dissonance problem when it comes to design. On one hand, I have always had a strong predilection towards the scrappy, cutesy, retro-chic subsection of the design spectrum. I just recently professed my love for all things scout-themed and I have been known to collect such functionless items as vintage toy tractors, glass soda bottles, and rusted-out cigarette tins—not to mention a whole slew of midcentury children’s books that I have no intention of reading. Despite the fact that I was born in the 80s, I can’t seem to prevent myself from waxing nostalgic or even inventing sentimental feelings about the good ol’ days of yore. On the other hand, part of me has fallen head-over-heels for the pared-down utilitarian creations that have taken the design world by storm as of late—something that has made me seriously re-evalute my love for the more frivolous side of things. Over the past year, I’ve found myself navigating a treacherous territory of mixed design emotion: do I indulge my deep-rooted love for all things kawaii or lighten my clutter intake by opting for a more carefully considered, minimal design diet? Luckily, it appears that I can have my cake and eat it, too!

If the booths lining the corridors of ICFF this year were any indication, the world is feeling the exact same way (or all designers have simultaneously read my mind—in which case, get out my head, designers!). Everywhere I look, design companies are negotiating the seemingly paradoxical desire for liberating simplicity and spirit-enriching whimsy. Although design companies are as interested as ever in crafting with industrial materials, they are adding warmth to their creations by combining them with organic materials and, more frequently, bold splashes of color. One such company is the LA-based Scout Regalia.

Originally featured on our site way back in 2011 as a Sneak Peek, Scout Regalia is the brainchild of Luddy and Makoto Mizutani, two SCI-Arc graduates with a shared passion for sustainable, locally-produced design. Established in 2006, the company has made a name for itself by producing home goods and furniture that strike a beautiful balance between utilitarian simplicity, lighthearted charm, and expert craftsmanship. Self-proclaimed multitaskers, Benjamin and Makoto have dipped their hands into numerous design ventures over the past few years including a line of DIY garden kits, book shelves, picnic tables, and even bicycles. Most recently, the design studio has created fully-realized interiors for the Colorado-based restaurant New Belgium Ranger Station, the adjacent Wildwood lodge, and a Steven Alan retail space. The Ranger Station in particular, gave way to the company’s new Ranger Stool, a beautiful construction made from white oak and powder coated steel (pictured above). It certainly looks like these scouts like to keep busy and I can’t wait to see what Regalia has up their sleeves next! Check out more of their designs after the jump! —Max

Above image: The new Ranger Stool.

Above image: SR’s White Oak Table Set is crafted using powder coated aluminum and tight-grained American white oak hardwood. The color of the powder coating can be customized to your specifications from a collection of 210 colors.

Above image: One of SR’s latest productions, these handy-dandy plant markers are a simple, colorful way to keep your garden organized (coming soon!).

Above image: SR’s Raised Garden kit takes the legwork out of assembling a custom raised garden.

Above image: The interior of the New Belgium Ranger Station, a Snowmass, CO based restaurant and brewery. Interior photos by Laure Joliet.

Above image: Spaces that SR designed at the Snowmass-based Wildwood Resort, also home to SR’s Steven Alan retail space. Interior photos by Laure Joliet.

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  • You know, please don’t take umbrage with my comments, but I feel like Design Sponge is becoming a shopping review site, all about what to buy and the links: maybe a lot of readers like this or it is an economic necessity, but truthfully, it is not what I loved about Design Sponge. I loved starting my day seeing other people’s houses and design inspirations, the furniture makeovers, and simple DYO projects, I feel like the site is losing its uniqueness, so many sites out there that review products. thanks,

    • hi ann,

      i don’t take umbrage with them and you’re certainly welcome to your feelings, but i would love the chance to respond.

      design*sponge actually started as a design product site, and was one of the first ones doing that. for the first few years (2004-2007) i only covered what was new and cool in design goods, and gradually expanded to cover other types of content. as it stands, we only post 1-2 product posts per day and the rest are non-product related. that’s 1/3 of the daily posts at most, so there should still be plenty of content for you if you don’t want to hear about what’s happening in the design world at large.

      we’re posting more products than normal right now because last week all the big design shows happened. the vast majority of readers request and love that sort of coverage so we try to strike a balance between the two.


  • Oh man, I want all of this, but especially the bike and that oak table set. Just need to, you know, move to an apartment with room for a dining table.

  • Ann, I’m afraid to say I’m with you on that one. I think the links to shopping websites are fine per se (some people do actually want to buy what they’ve just read about, or at least find out how to get something similar), but the advertising and more commercial feel is definitely dominating D*S as of lately. The D*S Book harnesses what used to be the best things about the website, in that it shows unique and creative ideas, and for which the commercial motivation was secondary. Perhaps this is a sad reality of our world these days.

    • bridget

      i’m not sure what’s making you feel that way (we limit sponsored posts to 4-6 a month) but i’m sorry if that’s the case. i really don’t think d*s is lacking in unique and creative ideas. i think you’re probably just noticing that some of the regular original content has a sponsor tag at the bottom.

      the sad reality of the blog market right now is that no one (seriously, the ad networks stopped selling them all together) buys regular banner ads anymore. the only way to support a blog and pay team members fairly is to integrate some sponsored content. i personally hate it (a lot) but i also hate the idea of not paying the people who work here every day and pour their hearts into everything they do. i’m testing out some alternate revenue streams right now, but we’ve got to make due until they kick in, so we’re integrating a small handful every month.


    • eileen

      i’ve been trying to avoid discussing the changing ad market online, since i don’t think most readers care about issues that are ours and not theirs. but it’s been rough. the only option is to basically sponsor everything. it makes me want to quit and give up, but instead we’re working triple over time to try to find other ways to produce income without selling things in the content section- which is my own personal hell.


  • I love most of this, but $95 for a package of screws and corner brackets so that I can purchase wood and build my own garden box seems ridiculous.

  • Just wanted to add my two cents. I really appreciate the product reviews. It’s hard to find great design that isn’t mass produced. Plus D*S often introduces the people behind the products. I love that. Sure, sometimes items are too expensive, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have fun looking at the photos. Many favorite items around my house where found on D*S. I say, keep up the good work!

  • I agree, Annie. D*S is doing a great job of staying true to providng real content in a changing online environment. It seems to me that the D*S staff has chosen to sacrifice maximizing income for the sake of providing readers with what we’ve always loved about this blog. Surely we can all agree that Grace and her team deserve to be able to make a decent living!

  • Hi Grace,
    Just wanted to add that I think it has been important to share the business side of your blog , why content has shifted and the addition of sponsored content. When I first started to notice the “this was sponsored by …….” at the end of an article that I just read, truthfully I was put off. But because you came forward and explained the change in ad revenue it was easier for me to let it go. You are the one who has to make the decisions on where you feel comfortable with sponsors and content. Thanks for hanging in there and trying to figure out a way that it works for you and your team.

    As a long time reader I love the product reviews and the back stories that you provide about the makers.

  • Thanks, Grace, I hear you, sounds really tough. I actually don’t mind the sponsored posts and I love your design reviews, I have bought many things from your links over the years, wallpaper, fabric, pillows, etc., too bad you can’t get a commission on these sales, I am sure you generate a lot of business and these are things that I would not come across anywhere else so thank you. I am just not into the product posts that mass things together in a theme for the most part.. but you know what your readers like. I think perhaps that some of the posts by others are too long, they could be a little shorter, and Grace your readers love you, and have parts of your taste in their houses..

  • The quality of your final product and the humor and love that’s there makes the interjection of ads bearable. I always look forward to “the news” you offer and marvel and the beauty of the site in general. Thank you, thank you.

  • I was going to gush over the bike and say how much I wanted it, when I realized I already own a beautiful white bike very much like that one already! Silly me. Love their work, thank you for showing them to us.

  • I LOVE the Scout Regalia stuff!! A few months ago I used one of their free online plans to build an outdoor bonsai bench. It turned out great!

  • Did I see them in Sunset Magazine a while back? They seem familiar and I love that picnic table set!

    Fwiw, I agree with Annie, Mera, and Andrea. Thanks for your hard work Grace!

  • D*S is awesome just the way it is! I’ve been a reader for about 4 years, and have only noticed it getting better and better!

  • I always like to hear about the back story to how this amazing blog stays functioning, and I think it’s good for people to hear how hard it can be to make revenue off of a free website. But I’m biased, coming from a free alt-weekly background – I know how critical people can be while enjoying, for free, all of the hard work that goes into a site.
    I also enjoy the product features, and actually miss the product round-ups that used to occur sometimes, like best couches under $1000, etc. I don’t have a ton of time to go find all of this cool stuff on my own, and I look to Design*Sponge to let me know what’s out there. I get my best gifting ideas from this site! Also – y0u don’t always have to buy that thing that you love that you see here. The products I see inspire me to find my own personal version of them, or make them myself. Thank you to the whole D*S team for all of the hard work that goes into this site!

  • Grace,

    Do you think you could have a post in your Business Ladies section that addresses pricing for designers and small makers/producers/manufacturers? As a designer, I don’t have tons of money to spend, but I still take offense at people complaining about the price points of small companies’ items. I don’t think most people realize that in order to manufacture something responsibly and make a living designing those things, you have to charge more than mass manufacturers. If one could purchase the Raised Garden Kit at Target, it wouldn’t cost $95.00, but it would be made offshore in huge quantities. The factories could very well have poor working conditions, the quality might be worse, the energy footprint would certainly be larger. And that’s if someone like Target chose to offer something like this. The reason smaller companies’ wares are often more innovative and interesting is because they don’t have to appeal to everyone, because they don’t need to sell in huge quantities (although I’m sure they would like to).

    In short, I am a believer of everything having a true cost: Food that is grown environmentally responsibly costs more. Clothing that isn’t produced in Bangladeshi sweat shops costs more. Items that are designed and produced in Western countries with labor laws cost more.