Mike Schneider On The Zola System

The Core Belief

I’d like to introduce you to Interior decorator, artist, writer, co-producer of The Magic Bullet Theory and (most of all) my friend Mike Schneider.  He recently had his apartment shown off by the blog Apartment Therapy (see below).   Mike has been gracious enough to try and make my place look like less of a bohemian bachelor pad and more of a home.

I am eternally grateful not to mention my mother.


(All images by Shaela Cook.)

Name: Michael James Schneider, creator of BLCKSMTH
Location: Koreatown, Los Angeles, California
Size: 900 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; rented

I first met Mike, a blogger/artist/designer, when I was twenty-three, and although my design sense was just developing, I knew his home was something special. A mix of science and art, his design sensibility reflects his new direction and focus in life.


Having just abandoned his twenty year stretch of retail employment to pursue his dream of painting (check out his work on his etsy site), interior design, theatrical design and directing, Michael has begun work on his new home as a labor of love. “There was a point in everyone’s life where we knew nothing about anything, and having the humility to go back to that place is pretty exhilarating,” he says. Rerouting one’s life to pursue your true passions is something we can all take note of.

Speaking of notes — the “Gallery of Notes” in the hall way is a collection of notes that Michael or his friend have found. He frames them and hangs them up. Of the wall, Michael says, “a disproportionate amount of them have to do with parking. This is L.A., after all.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Mad Scientist from the 1960s.

Inspiration: Design-wise, I’m a little obsessed with the 1960s. I would love to live in the sets of Jacques Tati’s Playtime or Tom Ford’s A Single Man. Function-wise, I’m making the transition to working out of my home: I’m now designing theater sets, doing more painting, and writing for my blog, so I’ve turned my second bedroom into more of a studio/office. It’s working great so far; normally I think I could be easily distracted by working in the same place I live, but when I cross the threshold into the studio, I’m focused on my work. Other influences: The Museum of Jurassic Technology, and I had some recent inspiration when I went to “Sleep No More” in New York City; the production designers are geniuses. Also, my mom taught me a lot about how to throw a room together with limited resources: she’s like the MacGyver of interior design.

Favorite Element: I love my science-related accessories, like my vintage microscopes, the solar radiometers, and my antique dental tools. And lately, I’ve been ordering so much lab glass online that my place is starting to look like the set of Breaking Bad. I hope the DEA doesn’t knock on my door.

Biggest Challenge: I moved into this unit from the one-bedroom unit next door, and the owner already saw what I did with that place, which bought me a little credibility with her. The challenge, however, was when I moved into this unit, and had to convince her to spend a little more on the custom blinds, the floors, and the lighting fixtures I picked out. In the end, she’s great, and wisely realized it was an investment for the building. Awesome landlords are the new black.

What Friends Say: “Ehrmagerd! When can you come look at my place?”

Biggest Embarrassment/Best Advice: If you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said all of the “catalog” furniture. But lately, I’ve moved past that, and I’m not embarrassed by anything in the place. Catalog and mass-produced pieces can help solidify your style in a low-cost, non-risky way. Then when you know what you love, you can invest in high-end pieces that you will have for a lot longer, like I’m starting to do.

Proudest DIY: I don’t think there’s one specific thing, but I know that my fearlessness to tackle projects myself, and my handiness around the house, comes from my dad. He’s a carpenter, which is like saying he’s a problem-solver.

Biggest Indulgence: It’s a toss-up: I’m spoiled by the downtown LA flower market — I go there at least once a week for fresh flowers. And also downtown, I’m working with someone to create an acorn-colored, leather slipcover for my sectional.

Dream Sources: EmpiricModernicaBlackman Cruz, and Twentieth

Resources of Note:


      • Office: Behr, “Sly Fox”


      • Living room: Glidden, “Natural Linen”


      • Bedroom: Behr, “Evening Hush”


    • Behr, “Olive Shadow”



      • Acrylic Console:


      • 60s glass decanters:

Retro Gallery




      • Chair, lamp: Rose Bowl swap meet


      • Floral wall sculpture: rescued from dumpster


      • Sectional:

West Elm

      • Small side table: Hernandez Bros Furniture




      • Table:

West Elm

      • Dining chairs, brass mice: Melrose Trading Post flea market


      • All artwork: Michael’s

own work




      • Lamp:

West Elm


      • Bed frame:

Room & Board

      • Brass owl: Melrose Trading Post flea market


      • Painting, lightbox/x-ray art: Mike’s

own art work

      . A real x-ray of a human brain layered on top of a transparency he made from a New Yorker article about the areas of the brain relating to taste and smell — parts redacted).


      • Vintage 1970s terrarium: ebay




      • Sanded manzanita branch, airplants: LA flower market


      • Vintage dental tools:

Empiric Studio





      • “Eye Chart” artwork: Michael’s own

art work



      • Pashley bicycle:

Flying Pigeon


      • Desk: West Elm


      • Desk: Rose Bowl Swap Meet



Thanks, Mike!

(Images: Shaela Cook)



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