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Cairn Collaborative brings talents together for the greater good

Cheri Saari, left, and John Kalmon combined their creative energy to start Cairn Collaborative which is located at 422 Second St. Photo by Margaret A. Ontl

Two Hudson professionals have joined forces to form Cairn Collaborative.

John Kalmon, owner of JPK Architecture, and Cheri Saari, owner of Kitchens That Cook, feel the old adage that two heads are better than one applies to design concepts as well as life.

In fact, their business plan includes a future for more than their two businesses.

"We are an office of established design professionals pursuing our individually owned and operated practices in a collaborative studio environment," said Kalmon. Cairn Collaborative opened in January. Service to the client and finding the right balance are primary objectives of the company. "It is something I have wanted to do for a long time," said Kalmon. "I started asking around and Cheri agreed and joined."

"It would be an ideal practice with inside energy," said Kalmon. "It is a company you can become a member of."

"It is very difficult to design in a vacuum," said Saari. "If you can bounce ideas off someone, you get fresh ideas. It makes for a better design in the end."

Members of the collaborative, including Saari and Kalmon, will share resources from a trade library to a conference room. The warm and welcoming space of Cairn Collaborative showcases their work. It was designed with room to grow as new members join.

"We are trying to collect individual owners to work together," said Kalmon. "It is a new venue in many ways. It is really for people who have a collaborative mind set." Each will retain individual ownership of their own company.

"We are primarily focused on professionals in the design field, fellow architects, designers, engineers or others in closely related fields," said Kalmon. "It will give us the ability to give a lot more depth to our services."


Saari is a Minnesota native who moved to Hudson seven years ago.

"I was drawn to Hudson because of my children," said Saari, who holds a degree from the University of Minnesota and has been an interior designer for 20 years. She presently teaches an interior design class to sophomores at the University and is NCIDQ (National Council of Interior Design Qualified) certified. Her company name, Kitchens That Cook, spells out her specialty.

"I love to cook," said Saari. "The kitchen is the heart of the home. In this day and age we are a lot more casual and family and guests like to hang out in the kitchen."

Kalmon is a Hudson native by all standards. He moved to Hudson with his parents when he was five years old. It was about the same time he became intrigued with architecture and design.

"My parents had Mike McGuire design their house," said Kalmon. "I loved his work, including the buildings open to the public in Stillwater. I thought they were such great places to explore."

"I wanted to be an architect pretty much since childhood," said Kalmon, a 1984 Hudson High School graduate. "A lot of people tried to talk me out of it along the way."

Fortunately for Kalmon and Hudson, they did not succeed. He earned a Masters from Montana State University in Bozeman. Today, he is licensed in Wisconsin and Minnesota, is a member of the American Institute of Architects and is LEED-AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Associate Professional) certified.

Both feel the collaborative will put them is a strong position as the market begins to turn around.

"People sometimes feel having an architect or designer is a luxury," said Kalmon. "It is really about adding value to your home. It pays off big dividends."

"The house that is already built is the most sustainable," said Kalmon. "We try to fit the house to the people living there."

With Cairn Collaborative, both Kalmon and Saari are poised to offer unique value to their individual customers. For more information, go to A public open house is planned for later this spring.