The Loaded Trunk was founded by Jonna Robison, an interior designer with a deep curiosity and passion for traveling the world, connecting with artisans in different cultures and sourcing unique and beautiful objets d’art. Published seasonally, the magazine features a curated collection of travel, lifestyle, nature, art and design inspiration for a life well lived.
inspired by nature
bring it home
The Beautiful Beaches of Laguna
A Luxurious Escape to the Sahara Desert
Swedish Strawberry Cake
Walking into Jim Olarte’s shingle-clad art studio, I was greeted by massive creations of macrame, knotted from ropes in various hues, hanging from the rafters, creating an otherworldly space where I held myself back from grabbing onto one of the ropes and swinging Tarzan-style across the room. From vintage shops, nautical supply stores and weavers, Jim gathers long lengths of thick yachting rope, jute and other fibers to knot impressive works of art, which have been installed in hotels, private residences, shops and more. It is a mesmerizing space, sprinkled with collections of rocks, shells, driftwood and more. There is an organic quality about the studio, with fiber throughout and bits of nature plucked from the seashore. Jim has spent his entire life near the beach and his love and reverence for the ocean comes through in his work as well as the studio where he works.
The story goes like this… In the 1970’s, when macrame plant hangers were the rage, Jim’s mom wanted some of her own, so he learned how to make them for her and sold some of them at craft fairs in Irvine. Then he tucked that skill away for a time.
Jim landed in Laguna Beach during the late 70’s and operated a big-deal vintage clothing store called Locals Only with his partner for more than 20 years, which attracted collectors from surfers to supermodels. Then he worked for a stint in “surf shack” set design, window displays and prop styling for surf brands. “I was working on a photo shoot for Roxy and doing some of the retail stores for Quiksilver when they asked, ‘Doesn’t the Roxy Girl have macrame? With seashells and driftwood?’ They placed six orders and I thought, “My gosh, I could be embarking on macrame again.” He retrieved that skill from his youth and began knotting again. From there, Jim began receiving commissions for private and commercial installations, including hotels and shops like Tommy Bahamas (in NYC), A’maree’s in Newport, residences as far as Provincetown, galleries throughout the country and restaurants. He’s been crafting macrame as a career for 10 years now, not because it’s “on trend” but because he loves the zen quality it brings to his life. He is drawn to the fact that it is mathematical and precise, yet also very meditative. It connects him to the ocean, where he is deeply rooted and feels it is a part of who he is.
A self-described “professional beachcomber,” Jim also creates beautiful, organic hanging sculptures from remnants of detritus, such as sea-worn fiberglass from shipwrecked boats, shells, rocks, fishing weights and other treasures he forages from his beach explorations. These bits from the sea and shore are often knotted into his macrame art as well, adding an organic vibe to his one-of-a-kind hanging creations. He doesn’t drill holes into any natural element of the earth, shells or rocks, but only uses their natural or eroded holes and openings. Although Jim lives in a modern world, he is in a sense unplugged from it. He does not own a car, preferring to travels everywhere he goes by bus, even to haul the pieces of fiberglass and lead weights he finds while exploring the beach. He doesn’t use an iPhone because he is perfectly content with his old flip phone. He doesn’t watch TV or use streaming services since he prefers to spend his free time at the beach or reading voraciously. Jim truly lives a slow, artistic life, guided by the tides, his love for the sea and what it shares with him for his work, and his passion for his craft, making knots as sailors have done for generations and creating beauty with fiber and treasures from the sea.
Where to find Jim:
950 Glenneyre St, Laguna Beach
To read the full Spring/Summer 2021 issue of The Loaded Trunk, based in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, click here to subscribe and receive access to this issue as well as the entire library.
August 24, 2021
The Loaded Trunk is a travel and lifestyle magazine founded by Jonna Robison, an interior designer with a deep curiosity and passion for traveling the world, connecting with artisans in different cultures and sourcing unique and beautiful objets d’art. Published seasonally, the magazine features a curated collection of travel, lifestyle, nature, art and design inspiration for a life well lived.
It’s Rob Schroff ,
Contact me, I have something Lisa gave me a long time ago, hope to here from you !