We had the good fortune of connecting with Carmen Salazar and Caleb Siemon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carmen Salazar and Caleb Siemon, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
In the beginning there was no balance. We just worked all the time. We were in our early 20’s and conveniently lived in a trailer in the parking lot of our shop. We were lucky that our studio was close to the ocean where we could quickly reboot and that a group of great friends were living and working with us. Everything was in one place. Taking time to commune with nature, especially in our local waters, mountains, and deserts took on more importance as the studio grew. These peaceful respites, even for a couple of hours, kept us sane and were a huge source of inspiration. We combined work and play with our exhibitions around the world whenever we could. This allowed us the ability to explore while being productive for the studio. We are as far as we can be at the other end of the pendulum’s swing these days. We have a finite amount of time to spend with our children and love being a part of their lives. Finding a good balance between worklife and homelife is incredibly important because, for us, long term happiness depends on us continuing to enjoy them both. We are really thankful that we are in a place right now where the studio is healthy, we are healthy, and we can take some time to enjoy the life that we have built together.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
We are a design studio created by Caleb Siemon and Carmen Salazar and have been working together to design and make hand blown glass vessels and lighting fixtures in Southern California since 1999. We met while undergraduates at the Rhode Island School of Design where Caleb focused on glass and Carmen on sculpture. Modern forms, thick glass and a love of color have become our trademarks. We always start with an idea but like to remain flexible to allow for the natural qualities of the material and unexpected combinations of color, pattern, and texture. Our work is all over the world bringing joy and even light to its owners. We love that we have been able to create pieces people love so much. It is an honor to be able to do that. Owning and running a small business as artists has definitely been a challenge and we are really proud of what we have accomplished over the last 20 years. We are a small family run business just trying to make it work in a crazy world. The fact that we have been able to sustain it for this long and create the life we have is pretty amazing to us.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We live in Laguna Beach with our two kids, Rome and Margot. We get a lot of visitors because of the beautiful place we live and it is always lots of fun to show people around. Depending on the time of year, we will cajole our friends into long hikes or bike rides through the San Joaquin Hills that surround the town, or head into the water to enjoy impressive variety of living species in the protected marine lands off our coast or surf in the waves. It is an outdoor playground of stunning beauty here and we try to take advantage of it as much as possible. If we head over to Crystal Cove State Park to explore the beaches and hills we will take our guests to the Beachcomber for breakfast or Bearflag for lunch. If we hike to Top of the World, we will have a banh mi and a beer afterwards at Another Kind in Laguna Canyon. Leaving town is hard once you are here. Some things are worth it though, like the delicious Japanese food at Fukada or super excellent ramen from Kitakata in Irvine. If we are feeling really adventurous we will head down to San Onofre with longboards and post up for the day, always stopping for Pedros tacos on the way home. If we are extra extra ambitious we would drive our friends to the desert in Anza Borrego. There are just so many beautiful public lands you can explore in Southern California. We love to explore them. Other than that, we are pretty boring and just like to hang out and cook for people at home.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We are lucky that both our families were incredibly supportive of our creative paths. Caleb’s parents were both artists. Carmen’s parents were great lovers of the arts. They all encouraged us to follow our passions in life regardless of what they were. This led both of us RISD which is where we met, and so we are forever grateful to that fine institution too.