This interview really says it all. Dive right in and enjoy — so many wonderful words of wisdom from Christiane. I know her words will inspire you as much as they did me.
EL: In the forward to your new book, “The Finer Things,” Miles Redd describes this book as a “love letter to decorating.” I couldn’t agree more and feel like I have been waiting for this design book forever!
What I love about it most, is that you empower those of us who would like to elevate our homes, we have a sense of what we like and what we don’t, yet might feel we lack a bit of fluency with the language and the tradition. You’ve given us a handbook and guide book to articulate our tastes, thereby empowering us to speak for our tastes!
What was that first seed of inspiration that inspired you to write this book?
CL: I really wanted to create a loose hip encyclopedia of sorts that had the answers to the questions people often ask about design and choosing pieces for the home. I also wanted it to be through a lens of quality. I am starting to really obsess about things of quality and timelessness. I think we are entering a period where people buy less and more thoughtfully.
EL: Your first business DwellStudio seemed to inspire and empower the home decorator to make their own choices with expert guidance rather than give up the reins entirely to an expert so that their homes then truly become a reflection of them. Would you say that’s true? What has been your guiding philosophy in working with clients to create their ideal space?
CL: I think that is entirely true. I think your home has to be personal and reflect who you are. The best interiors are deeply personal with a little professional polish. I really believe that the most interesting spaces are often not what we would think of now as “decorated” hence – UNDECORATE. I also believe that people think of their spaces as fluid now and spend time making updates all the time.
EL: We partnered this fall with New York-based artist Caitlin McGauley to create her ideal reading space as a limited edition print for our fall boxes. Would you be willing to describe your ideal reading space — that place that begs one to curl up in with a good book?
CL: I love to read . . . My ideal place is under a palm tree on a beach. I think it has to do with being on vacation and devouring book after book without interruption. It’s something I look forward to. At home I like to stretch out with a book in bed . . . It’s so luxurious to me to be able to read and maybe fall asleep.
EL: I met you on our trip with Every Mother Counts to Tanzania in 2015 and was immediately inspired by your energy, and your willingness to just dive in and do anything and have an absolute blast while doing it — such as climbing up on a roof to install a solar panel on a clinic in Tanzania to bring this clinic light for the first time — it needed to be done and, with Ian, you got it done! I believe they delivered a baby that night for the first time with light. This is a trait of yours I so admire and continue to be inspired by. And I imagine you carry this everyday into every aspect of your life. Would you share a story when perhaps an installation or design project wasn’t going quite right, may have needed a bit of help to get it back on track and you just dove in and got it done, whatever it took?
CL: I am up for anything. I also love adventure. I am not a stuff person – I am an experience person which is also why I wrote the book. If you are going to do something, why not get the best advice? That is why I talked to and interviewed all the experts in the book. I think my best professional adventuring stories come from when I started up DwellStudio – out of college . . . I would just jump in and figure it out. When I got my first big order and knew I had to go to Asia and get it done – I just jumped on a plane, flew to China and figured it out. It’s just like the roof in Tanzania – I just go.
EL: I love following along on Instagram and seeing where your travels have taken you over the course of a week or a month. What has been the most exciting or inspiring trip you’ve taken recently?
CS: I just came back from an Every Mother Counts trip to Guatemala. I love everything about it. The work we are doing there is so valuable, but I was also inspired by the beautiful textile traditions. I was completely inspired and fell in love with that wonderful country.
EL: With the busyness of daily life, do you have a favorite way to unwind at the end of the day? To recharge so you can begin again the next morning?
CS: I really believe in sleep. I make myself sleep. I am in bed asleep by 10 . . . no TV, only my book and sleep.
EL: What is your favorite piece of advice that you’ve received from a mentor?
CS: You have to do what you love. The rest falls into place. I would do what I do for free – I use that as a litmus for everything. When you love what you do it’s no longer work.
EL: What are your favorite books? Do you have one favorite that you turn to for inspiration or does the list shift and change according to different phases in life? I always find I have favorites for a season or mood and have such a hard time narrowing the list down to one.
CS: Impossible. I love to read everything but do go back to the classics – Austen, Tolstoy, Hemingway – because as you grow they offer different lessons.