This March (the 19th through the 24th to be exact!) Artemis is traveling (via flying carpet, of course) to San Francisco for a week-long pop-up at the fabulous St. Frank store in the Presidio Heights neighborhood.
St. Frank has always had a special place in my heart. I first met the founder, Christina, during one of my first pop-ups at the Steven Alan store on Abbot Kinney 5 years ago. We immediately connected over our love for global textiles, unusual and beautiful products, and of course, being young business owners. We kept in touch over the past few years, and I’ve always admired the beautiful curated home goods collection that Christina puts together for her stores and website. Her collection in a few short words is global, interesting, and most importantly, happy and fun. You can’t look at Christina’s work, whether it’s her apartment in New York, her stores, or site, and not smile at the beauty and fun of it all.
I hope that you enjoy this peek into the colorful and patterned world of Christina!
Tell us about your company . . . how did you get your start, and what is your mission today?
We work with artisans around the world in under-resourced settings who are working in traditional craft methods to produce our line. Each piece supports quality jobs and cultural preservation and each piece comes with a history.
As background, I have always loved art and design - I studied art history and architectural history undergrad and joined New York’s Museum of Modern Art as my first job after college. I realized that I was also passionate about international development at that point, so I left Manhattan and moved to a small village in Rwanda for two years to work for a healthcare NGO. While living there, I met artisans in my community who were working in traditional crafts. I fell in love with the stories behind these crafts and their beautiful handwork.
I wanted to purchase things and bring them home, but nothing would really work once I got home (I thought), so I started designing products with the artisans for my own personal use. First apparel and accessories and then a couple things for my room. I then came back to the States for business school and was decorating my home. I wanted to create a space that spoke to my values and my story as someone who travels around the world off the beaten path, cares about authentic products with stories behind them, and demands ethical sourcing. Short of the items I was finding, finishing, or creating abroad, I couldn’t find much that met my needs. I realized that most of my friends had these same values, so I thought I would create a new kind of home brand built for a consumer like me.
Travel is so integral to your business, can you tell us about one of your more memorable travel experiences?
Sneaking into Cuba with some friends in business school in 2010. We stayed in local homes in Havana and ate at underground restaurants. It was the ultimate trip for an adventure-seeking, Cuba-obsessed, Che Guevara-loving, rule breaker like moi ;)
Your favorite travel advice?
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” - St. Augustine
Tell us about a memorable meal you’ve had while abroad…
Contramar for lunch in Mexico City. I will never forget the first time I walked into their bustling space in Roma Norte filled with chic locals drinking beer and enjoying their famous Tostada de Atún to the backdrop of their bright blue bar mural and raffia ceiling. It’s like magic! I try to make it there every time I’m in town - about once or twice year.
What are 3 things that you always pack in your suitcase?
Dream future trip?
Christina at home…
Your home is so gorgeous! Tell us about your personal design philosophy for your own home? What kind of an environment are you trying to create?
I want my home to reflect who I am and how I live. Personal space has to be personal! So, for me, that’s not only having items in my home that have a story, but creating warmth, welcome, comfort. My style is characterized by layers - mixing high and low, playing with pattern, color, and texture. Those multi-faceted, complex, and unexpected elements are what humanize the home. (Photos of Christina's home are by photographer Sarah Elliot).
What are 3 words to describe your style?
Traveled, patterned, layered
Favorite design advice?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!
Where do you find the most inspiration?
I find inspiration on scale, color, and composition from art. I find inspiration on adding discovery, the unexpected, and a storied element from travel. I find inspiration on creating spaces that are cozy, livable, and bring people together while still being beautiful and refined from my mama. (See photos below of Christina's mothers' stunning home!)
What is your favorite room or space in your home, and why?
My bedroom - to me it somehow embodies my independence and living alone in a really great way. Its pink palette is feminine, but also sophisticated. Plus, sleeping is my favorite activity!
Biggest and most favorite splurge?
I DIE for Astier de Villatte and have started collecting a few of their pieces (whose price tags, in my mind, are just as jaw dropping as the work itself). I also do love my D. Porthault sheets!
Favorite, least expensive treasure you’ve found?
I love flea market shopping - from the Alameda Flea in the East Bay to the streets of Argentina - and most of the knickknacks on my shelves and cool serving pieces and vintage table linens are items I’ve found there. I live in a vintage necklace I snagged in a small shop in Cape Town. (If you’ve seen a photo of me, I’m probably wearing it.) That and hand-me-downs from my mom! 75% chance that if you compliment something on my home or wardrobe, it’s something that was once hers.
Favorite home item that you found while traveling?
I think I have to say the vintage Indian kantha I bought abroad and framed that became the inspiration of our original St. Frank products!
Any trends that you don’t care for? Or design pet-peeves that you have?
I’m all about being tidy, but I I find the trend towards minimalism to be cold and somewhat impersonal. I consider myself a maximalist and delighted to see that coming back! One design pet-peeve I have (and I hope this doesn’t offend anyone! I’m sure you, dear reader, have done this beautifully) is the all grey and beige nursery. I believe - of all people - children should live as colorfully as possible.
Your favorite places to source materials, furniture and objects for your home?
We work with Forsyth Art for sustainably sourced hides and furniture, and they do beautiful, high quality work. I live and die by Farrow & Ball paint. Allied Maker has a few lighting fixtures that I’m crushing on right now. For the most part, I limit my furniture purchases to resellers like 1stDibs and Chairish. For a lower cost, mass market retailer, CB2 is my fave.
What is your favorite Artemis Design Co. item, and why?
I first met Milicent when Artemis was popping up in Abbot Kinney and immediately fell in love with your kilim loafers. I’m currently crushing on this pair with the little critters on the toe!
What is your favorite book?
The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. I was living in New York out of college when I first read this and I couldn’t put it down, so it even took the subway with me. It’s beautifully written, takes place in Cuba (I’m obsessed, as we’ve already established), and it documents a beautiful, somewhat tragic struggle and journey of catching a fish. I love the story of perseverance.
Best advice you've ever received?
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Focusing on reframing the way I see my life to give thanks has not only made me happier every day, but has greatly lowered my anxiety.
Cannot live without?
Ugh - I guess it’s too depressing to say my iPhone? Haha. There’s not much I can’t live without, but I don’t want to live without my mom and brothers, my team, equal rights for all, weekly manicures, and 8 hours of sleep ;).
Thank you Christina !