Home is where the art is: La Jolla listing showcases designers to help them and nonprofits during pandemic

Pillows from designer Jonathan Cohen's fabric are displayed in the La Jolla Designer Showcase Home on Calumet Avenue.
Pillows from designer Jonathan Cohen’s fabric are displayed in the La Jolla Designer Showcase Home on Calumet Avenue in Bird Rock.

La Jolla native Jonathan Cohen is one of the artists and designers who contributed to the La Jolla Designer Showcase Home, with sale proceeds going to nonprofits of their choosing. (Includes video)


After his sustainable fashion design company shut down production and canceled its spring 2020 line due to the COVID-19 pandemic, La Jolla native Jonathan Cohen has also had an eventful 2021 already.

That purple coat, dress and mask that first lady Jill Biden wore arriving in Washington, D.C., ahead of her husband’s presidential inauguration in January? Cohen designed it.

Biden’s team “contacted us looking for different outfits,” Cohen said. “They loved the purple-suited dress and she ended up getting it and wore it. It was amazing.”

La Jolla native Jonathan Cohen and the purple coat he designed that was worn by first lady Jill Biden.

And now Cohen, who is based in New York but grew up in San Diego and stayed with his parents in their La Jolla home from March to August last year, is offering his new, sustainable home designs at a new listing in Bird Rock, where part of the proceeds from sales of his contributions will go to the nonprofit Futures Without Violence, which works to end domestic violence.

The listing, called the La Jolla Designer Showcase Home at 5527 Calumet Ave., is newly built, with construction completed in February. The owner planned to live there but changed his mind last fall after his father fell ill, and agents Mary Raser and Khaki Wennstrom of Raser Real Estate Group of Compass listed the house for sale Feb. 8.

The La Jolla Designer Showcase Home at 5527 Calumet Ave. in Bird Rock completed construction in February.

Wennstrom said she “wanted to do something different with this listing” and decided to invite designers and artists to showcase their talents in the home’s various rooms as a way to promote people whose industries have been hurt by the pandemic.

“We have this platform, this open canvas. Why don’t we try to help the retailers and designers and artists and bring them together and create a designer showcase,” Wennstrom said. “It’s a creative way of doing real estate. It’s kind of thinking outside the box and showcasing a home more like an art form.”

As prospective buyers tour the home, which is listed for nearly $5.7 million, they’ll see works from artist Pedro de la Cruz displayed gallery-style along with calligraphy signs from Wared Designs. Art by Cas Friese and Hannah Claire also is on display.

Three interior designers worked on the home: Calla Cane designed the living room; Viv & Leone designed one of the bedrooms, the patio and the office; and Somich Design designed the rest.

Parachute Home designed the bathrooms, while Moore Organized designed the laundry room and kitchen.

La Jolla establishments Sundance Golf Carts and Mitch’s Surf Shop also are featured, with a Sundance cart in the garage and a surfboard from Mitch’s in the children’s room.

Cohen’s contribution, displayed in the room with the surfboard, comes from his practice of sustainability.

“I design all the textiles in the collection,” he said, “so we never feel like they’re devalued. After our production cycle, we’ll hang on to all the fabric remnants and create new products with them as time goes on.”

“What you’ll see in the house is pillows … created from a fabric we did” a few seasons ago, he said. “That particular collection was inspired by my being Mexican and American ... a lot of traditional Mexican iconography and iconography that reminds me of La Jolla, growing up next to the beach,” including surfboards as flower petals.

Works from artist Pedro de la Cruz hang in the La Jolla Designer Showcase Home in Bird Rock.
Works from artist Pedro de la Cruz hang in the La Jolla Designer Showcase Home in Bird Rock.

Each room is offered furnished as part of the listing, Wennstrom said. A homebuyer can choose any or all of the rooms as staged, with a portion of the proceeds going to nonprofits chosen by the designers of those rooms.

“It’s not only helping show other people’s talents but also giving back at the same time,” Wennstrom said.

Futures Without Violence was “impacted by COVID. With everyone staying at home, there’s a lot of domestic abuse issues that people were seeing,” Cohen said. “Futures Without Violence is really committed to helping that ... even before the pandemic. It’s an issue that’s really important to me, to make sure we’re helping people that are really vulnerable during these times.”

Raser Real Estate will be giving to Give a Glimpse, The Country Friends, Garment District for Gowns, Padres Pedal the Cause and the American Heart Association.

Somich Design selected Camp Kesem, Dancers Against Cancer, Dress for Success, Melanoma Research Alliance and Miracle League of San Diego.

Calla Cane chose Laughing Pony Rescue, Parachute Home chose Nothing but Nets and Viv & Leone selected Charity Water.

Moore Organized selected Meals on Wheels.

Sale proceeds also will be given to Artist Relief.

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