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Annie & Pip Zawada, Culver City LA

Words by Elisha Kennedy

Images by Carissa Gallo

The Zawada home is one in which you would dream of growing up. Australians Annie, Jonathan and their son Pip moved here several years ago and have made a home that is full of colour, purpose, love and objects they have made themselves. You get the feeling there is a distinct open-mindedness to the ways of living here. Annie and her husband Jonathan are both creative directors and designers who work collaboratively and support one another in their own endeavours – Jonathan is also a very talented artist and graphic designer whilst Annie has her own projects, managing their studio and at the moment, producing a line of very fun, pom pom straw hats.

 

Can you tell us about the pom pom straw hats that you sell, we love them!

Thank you! I started by making a hat just for myself that I could wear in the garden. I sourced a beautiful straw hat that is of a traditional Amish style from a young mother in Ohio who makes them by hand. I added the decorative pom pom band and then friends started to ask for them. Soon enough they were stocked in the Bassike stores throughout Australia and currently they are in their Venice Beach store for the LA summer.

What do you love about living in LA?

I think what I love the most is our ability to produce. We have produced some fairly bizarre things since being here. We have a great sense of freedom that we can actually make whatever our heart desires, from a “donut” lounge chair to growing an extremely productive passionfruit vine! Not only is the city rich with workmanship and a willingness to try out our whacky ideas, the soil in our garden is really fertile too. There is also an overarching American sense of personal freedom which wasn’t something that I expected to feel an affinity towards, and there are obvious downsides to it, but in comparison to the immense amount of control and rules that Australian residents are subjected to, I finally understand the American obsession with freedom.

 

Can you share some of your favourite things to do as a family, what does Pip love to do with you?

I think our favourite family activity is no-activity, taking a Saturday afternoon and spending it at home is the best for us. Pip was born with a genetic deletion called Potocki-Shaffer Syndrome, which results in a developmental delay and a muscular disability. He has a tough time being out in public places, he loves to go out but crowds and loud noises can be overwhelming and he has strange obsessions with public bathrooms and elevators and if he is not given enough time to explore those things he will throw a full blown melt-down. He has been in therapy; physical, occupational, speech, behavioural, social etc. everyday for his entire life so we like to give him downtime on the weekends. It’s been a really hard part of raising a child with special needs, missing out on those things that I expected I would enjoy doing as a family, eating early pizza dinners at restaurants, days at the beach, visiting zoos, museums, aquariums etc. But that just isn’t our life – so we try to be content with what we love doing and not feel too guilty about staying in so much.

I think our favourite family activity is no-activity, taking a Saturday afternoon and spending it at home is the best for us.

What does a working day look like for you?

A typical day for me starts when I get home from the school run and walk directly into our backyard studio, avoiding the distractions of home. I usually tend to emails to switch my brain over from mum mode for an hour or so. Often I also need to wait out the traffic before I hit the freeways to check production on a table or our vases for instance. On a rare occasion Jonathan and I love to go out for a coffee and have a WIP where we discuss how to tackle his schedule and he will then sit at his computers and work all day, literally sometimes not leaving our compound of home and studio for weeks at a time. I get out and run errands, manage deliveries in and out, logistics, scheduling, client liaison etc. I make us lunch and snacks and then depending on Pip’s day I will finish early to take him to a therapy appointment or pick him up from his nanny’s house. In between working I am usually on the phone managing Pip’s schedule too.

 

What are some the objects or pieces in your home that bring you joy?

We try to fill our home only with things that bring us joy! Jonathan and I feel happiest when surrounded by color and we have aimed to build a hyper-coloured interior. There is also a sense of satisfaction having made so many of the pieces in our house ourselves. And on a more sophisticated note our Lyn and Tony for Maison Balzac candles are the most heavenly scents I’ve ever experienced.

Jonathan and I feel happiest when surrounded by color and we have aimed to build a hyper-coloured interior. There is also a sense of satisfaction having made so many of the pieces in our house ourselves.

Do you have a morning routine?

Yes our life is very routine. 6:00am Jonathan goes for a run, 6:30 Pip wakes up, 7:00 I get out of bed, one of us will get Pip out of bed and dressed (usually Jonathan) and we will all make breakfast, 98% of the time we eat the same thing – peanut butter + vegemite on toast and homemade granola with fruit. Coffee is made, we all eat at the table and when that’s done we get Pip ready for school, make lunch, brush teeth, put on shoes etc. It’s a whole schedule done in the same order every day and 8am we’re out the door.

 

A bedtime routine?

Again yes! I start cooking dinner at 5, it’s on the table at 6, we play for a bit after dinner until 6:45, then bath, teeth, pj’s and bed for Pip. Usually Jonathan and I are so exhausted from that intense few hours we crash on the sofa with a glass of wine and a TV show or a movie until about 9:30 then it’s bed. Glamorous!

What are some things you are looking forward to this year?

Actually the second half of this year has turned out to be one of huge change. We were in Sydney in May renewing our visas for the US and I found out I was pregnant, which after years and years of infertility was an absolute shock and an ecstatic excitement – however we absolutely panicked and happened at the same time to find our dream home (because all anyone does in Sydney is look at online property right?) It is in the hills behind Broken Head (Byron Bay) near my family… Our passports didn’t arrive back in time for our return flights to LA so we decided to quickly head up and have a look at this house – it was heaven, so we plunged in and bought it, we had to sell an investment and wait to make sure our baby would be born with all of her chromosomes and serendipitously it just all worked out and we are moving home to Australia this spring with a baby girl due on NYE! We will miss LA and all it has to offer but we are hopeful we can continue to work across the Pacific. We will be bi-coastal (with just bit more of a time difference)!

Can you share with us something you read/listened to/thought about recently that stuck with you?

We just had a yard sale, selling our pot plants off before we move home, and we met some really wonderful people from our neighborhood… One of whom told us about her revelation of “I am capable of more” – we were discussing our various environmental hacks we have made around our homes, like our (illegal) grey water systems and clothes lines (that barely exist in the USA). Our new home is self sufficient in water and sewer waste and we will install solar too. But I am also applying this philosophy to my social media or iPhone browsing habits, to double checking my spelling and grammar, to just trying to make a little more effort overall. We are all capable of more.

See more from Annie here


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