There are only a handful of times when life requires you to pivot completely.
For Ara Katz, pregnancy once one of them.
"I met my co-founder, Raja Dhir, when I was pregnant," begins the founder and entrepreneur of Seed — a sleek new brand of probiotics. "My pregnancy and breastfeeding experience, paired with our mutual fascination with the microbiome — especially its critical impact during infant development — prompted the question 'how can we set up a child for a healthy life?'"
Katz — a former Hollywood film producer — was four months into the whirlwind of motherhood when questions about her own breastfeeding experience required her to continue probing. Like many women, the entrepreneur struggled with misinformation that surrounds pregnancy, the onslaught of unsolicited advice, and the seemingly limitless milk supply the body now demands. With an active interest in microbiome — the microbe bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses, that live on and inside the human body — Katz felt inspired to dig a little deeper — call it a gut instinct. What followed was Seed, a startup committed to "cleaning up" consumer probiotics, sustainably sourced and backed by actual science.
Step inside the entrepreneur's airy and open Venice home, a space shared by Katz, husband Chris Ovitz, and four-year-old son Pax — and the design approach is symbiotic. Katz is quick to point out that there are no "favorite pieces" when it comes to furniture and decor, but rather an admiration for how it all works together. Here, the entrepreneur adheres to a barely-there ethos, dressing blond floorboards with wrung linen furniture, a lofty coffee table, and a handful of live-edge accents. Benjamin Moore's Super White is the shade of choice, coating curved loft walls and soaring ceilings, punctuated only by oversized cast iron windows and doors. Katz intentionally steers clear of fresh flowers and you'll be hard-pressed to find a rug, the only evidence of tiny feet is the pint-sized IKEA play kitchen, neatly tucked away in the corner of the family's open-plan living space. It's an approach to layout that's as pure, unadulterated, and clean as the probiotics Katz is touting — a space befitting of a microbiome-loving minimalist.
"All of my experiences have been catalyzed by questions," Katz unpacks. "With Seed, it was my pregnancy that introduced me to the microbiome and exposed me to the abundance of misinformation, particularly surrounding our health and the promise of products. It was my own difficulty breastfeeding that catalyzed our entrepreneurial journey. We started with the premise of reinventing infant formula and have since built a platform to bring scientific rigor, precision, and education to the incredibly noisy and confusing category of consumer probiotics. Seed is the result of life-long questioning, the belief that we, as humans, have moved too far from science, and the potential of microbes to impact both human and environmental health."
It's this clean-living principle that informs the majority of Katz' design decisions. The entrepreneur points out that hers is a space that's cultivated to promote creativity, offering ample room to move and work freely. The loft living area, with its domed ceilings and staggering height, was designed to "emulate the hull of a ship" and serves as a cozy "protective compound," only feet away from Venice's main drag.
"The architecture of our home is unique to Venice, a style that typically reflects early Charles and Ray Eames, David Hirsch, and Marmol Radziner-style architecture," Katz explains. "But inside, the plywood millwork that I designed and the concrete floors (in the kitchen, bathroom, and guest bedroom) do reflect early Gehry plywood work and Venice’s industrial design roots. What initially appealed to me about this space, was the structure of the main living room and loft space, with the ceiling height and its unique details — this is not usually my aesthetic."
Neighboring a set of HD Buttercup sofas and holding pride of place on naked floors, is a custom reclaimed dining table, a cut down and refinished piece of wood later fashioned into a Parsons table. Katz describes her living space through a soft and sentimental lens, pointing out that tender family memories are virtually "imprinted" on the nearby coffee table. Despite a strictly minimal approach to styling and an open layout, the entrepreneur carves out dedicated spaces for everyday living, nooks to comfortably work from home, and retreat with family.
"This is a space to think and be in — it’s constructed to encourage late night 'a ha' moments and I love bringing those thoughts to my team, to inspire a new idea or augment a project we’re working on," Katz adds. "I have watched my son become who he is in that room."
A Scandi-inspired kitchen sits neatly to one side, offering everything you need and nothing you don't. The sharp lines of an iron staircase draw the gaze upstairs, decorated with large white canvases that catch the light, like peaks formed on whipped cream. Upstairs, a low-key lounge space allows Katz to unleash her bibliophilic tendencies, lining the walls with low-profile shelving and a slipcovered Restoration Hardware sofa, prime for curling up with a good book. A handful of accent pieces sit on top of a glass coffee table that Katz designed herself, like findings in a petri dish.
Follow your senses down the hallway and into the master bedroom, and a pillowy white, slipcovered bed — also by Restoration Hardware — reaffirms the surrounding vibe. Here, the entrepreneur opts for off-white drapes to cocoon the most intimate of spaces. Built-in nightstands hover alongside the bed, while penned studies decorate either side of the wall. It's a muted bedroom aesthetic befitting of any true minimalist, warm enough to feel like home, yet pared-back enough to promote simplicity. A Ligne Roset Togo Sofa, finished in a cognac leather, breaks up an otherwise whitewashed room.
Glide through to the bathroom, and a white oak vanity sits stacked above the tiled gray bath, fitting together like well-designed building blocks, while Seed's flagship product, a 30-day supply of the Daily Synbiotic, decorates the countertop. As the balmy Venice light peeps through a mailbox window, it's clear that Katz' minimalist practices are exercised both inside and out.
"I’ve always been sensitive to space and light and how they impact one’s ability to think and create and live," the entrepreneur explains. "We have never lived in a time where consumption and exposure to information is this non-stop, when life is already messy enough — the space you occupy doesn’t need to be."
Surrounding courtyards and floating balconies are finished in crisp white paint, softened with locally sourced Matteo linen and Design Within Reach cocktail tables, while a concrete fire pit keeps the outdoor bay seating ultimately cozy.
When quizzed on what exactly typifies "clean living" and how exactly it drives her decision-making, both stylistically and otherwise, Katz' answer is as refreshingly simple as you might expect.
"It's a mindfulness," she smiles. "Of what goes in and what goes out."