From a converted schoolhouse to factory lofts and even a teepee, Tom Sandonato served as his own test subject for discovering what it means to live off the grid. He readily sought out alternative living spaces from the moment he was old enough to move out of his childhood home in Paterson, New Jersey. These experiments in habitation would come in handy in the years to come.
After earning a bachelor of fine arts degree, Sandonato moved to New York, where he apprenticed for an artists' collective in SoHo. He moved on to designing merchandise installations for Robinsons-May, a division of Macy's. This hands-on experience in the field opened the door to an executive-level stint in visual merchandising, culminating in being named VP of store design and planning at Warner Brothers.
While looking for alternatives to traditional building on the desert terrain of his property in California's Joshua Tree, Sandonato became convinced there was a way to construct a simple structure that would tread lightly on the earth. Frustrated by what the marketplace had to offer, Sandonato and his design partner Martin Wehmann decided to design their own prefab solution to meet a more conscious need for green design. Thus, in January 2007, Kithaus was born. Beyond Kithaus' obvious use as an eco-friendly remote work or living space, Sandonato is looking ahead to more progressive applications and methods of architectural fabrication.