1. You are often called a designer with the soul of an artist. Are there times when the artist or sculptor in you takes over the designer?
I was born an artist and will always be an artist first as my approach to design is never purely aesthetic. What I design first must adhere to an idea in context, a concept in relation to the present time and surroundings. Whether an interior or object the work I make must communicate and evoke reaction.
2. All of your interiors are very “artistic”. They are full of objects of art, wall colors and textures often work as a “canvas surface”. Did you have difficulties when agreeing on such unusual and bold interiors with your clients.
I don’t find this difficulty with my clients – I think that they work with me because they either have art and want an interior to compliment their collection or they desire an “artistic” space. The development of that space can become an interesting dialog between me and the client and the art and the architecture.
3. If you had to create a piece of furniture for yourself and had to choose between its functionality and aesthetics, what would you sacrifice?
Neither, I’d rather sit on the floor. I don’t think it’s necessary to sacrifice anything.
4. We can define your background of a sculptor in your collections for big furniture brands- every piece of furniture needs to be walked around and looked at different angles. Every piece is very expressive. Where do you draw inspiration for your design objects- is it visual art, travel or maybe some music?
I take my inspiration from the experience of life, which for me involves the act of travel, adventure, seeing, hearing and sensing. My approach is really about consciousness and being open to many things. To expanding my understanding of what this world is and what reality is. So, travel does provide an exceptional framework for experience and wonder. New places, new people, culture, food, music etc. I never feel more inspired or alive than when I am surprised and learning something new. I try to travel to a place I’ve never been previously, every year, to feed that curiosity and spark new work.
5. Many of your interior items have distinctive ethnic motives. Is it the influence of Mexico,where you spend a lot of time?
I am definitely influenced by Mexico – it’s a love affair I started many years ago but has grown deeper in appreciation since setting up my studio here in the last 3 years. What I find so compelling about Mexico is the richness and vibrancy of the indigenous cultures here and the tradition of craft. It is still very much alive in many forms from weaving to embroidery to ceramics to music. Visiting the ancient ruins around mexico is one of my favorite ways to spend a day.
Could you tell us a bit about the design of your Mexican house?
My home is an ex-hacienda – meaning that it is no longer working in the production of anything – which used to produce sisal fiber. There are two very large historic buildings. The romantic casa principal is of a 17th century Moorish style with 13 arches and the formal casa de maquinas – the factory – was later built in the mid 19th century in a very classical style. Both buildings are currently in careful restoration. The factory will be completed next year to use for art and performances and the principal house will soon be my home. Currently, I live in two bedroom the pool house with my husband and our Chihuahua Micho and 6 other rescued dogs.
6. Could you give your recommendations for the choice of the “right” art object for the interior, what should the owner or designer be guided by?
The right object first should be something that is meaningful or that evokes meaning and thought – otherwise it is just decoration The next thing to notice is placement and scale – to allow proper light and space to view the piece.
7. Were there cases when you built your whole interior concept around an art object?
Yes, I did an interior that had a huge painting made of tar and salt – an incredible, strone, textural piece. The painting dictated the color palette and the balance of every other object in the room and subsequently set the tone for the rest of the duplex
8. What is “Russian style” for you?
When thinking of Russian style, I think of a nod to history but also to modernism. An attention paid to the best materials and to grand scale of elements and objects. Would you like to create a collection of furniture especially for Russia as a kind of experiment? Of course! I love new projects and new challenges. What items would you include into this collection? The first thing I think about is lighting – again with attention to history but subverting it for modern day – authentic, luxurious materials and details. Then upholstery, rounded forms with classic proportion. Case pieces would include beautiful wood details and hardware like jewelry.
9. Do you collect objects of art?
I do, I have many paintings, photography, prints. Some sculpture. What modern artists or sculptors inspire you? I mainly collect the work of my friends – not because of it’s market value but because I love the work and know the artist. Having that relationship is important to collecting – the work speaks to me and means something in my home and in my life. I have a photographic work my fellow Art Institute of Chicago alumni Cindy Sherman, Mexican sculptress Marcela Diez, multi-media artist, Erika Harrsch, American painter Richmond Burton, and Canadian photographer Ric Kokotovich. I’m really inspired by the ceramics and paintings of Milena Muzquiz whose work and friendship I discovered in Merida, Mexico.