C California Style

Falls table and Chinese Jesus interiors. PHOTO: Deborah Rumens.
Dragonfly table. PHOTO: Deborah Rumens.
Deborah Rumens and Mike Lee at their Venice studio. PHOTO: Nicholas Maggio.
Semiprecious table. PHOTO: Craig Tozzi.

A Solid State

by C California Style

For more than a dozen years, tucked away in a light-streaked Venice loft with a woodshop nearby, there has been creative sawdust in the air for Chinese Jesus.

Deborah Rumens and Mike Lee surf dual waves of interior design and furniture fabrication—touching on themes like the coast, redwoods and the beauty of Big Sur. Like sentence fragments, the new collection In California allows each piece to complete a statement about Golden State life: The grain of the Falls, a slyly reinforced coffee table constructed of 15-foot walnut slabs from the Sacramento Valley, cascades in curves and graduated angles. Atop a floating Semiprecious table, bevel-cut bronzed glass is shaped like a surfboard. And just look at the sculptural raised “jewel” in the center. That’s a wonderful by-product of creation, Lee points out. You’ll undoubtedly see skeletons of midcentury predecessors—the Kagans, the Baughmans—yet CJ is ultimately process-driven, devoted to discovery and change. “A lot of the time [clients will] want vintage, but patina doesn’t work for everyone. What they really want is something new,” says Rumens. “But it’s not derivative.” Available through Holly Hunt; chinesejesus.com.

Written and edited by Alison Clare Steingold.