I’m so happy to chat with Nina Freudenberger, the founder of Haus Interior, a full-service boutique interior design firm with offices in both New York City and Los Angeles. Nina’s book Surf Shack//Laid-back Living by the Water recently came out and we’re thrilled to have it in our summer Aesthete collection.
ql: Hi Nina, I can’t stop looking at your beautiful book. Congratulations. quarterlane founder, Elizabeth Lane and I secretly disclosed to each other that we wish we had built our lives in California, or now from the looks of it, I guess I’d be fine with the Hamptons, Mexico or Australia too. There’s something about so magical about the light and air by the ocean. In your book introduction, you describe the shift in lifestyle that happened when you moved out west from New York City. This one line from your introduction really sums up what the images on its pages convey, “People who make surfing a priority don’t have a lot of room to get caught up in the day-to-day noise that disorients the rest of us.” The rooms in this magical book convey their owner’s sensibilities and as you say “cultivating truly authentic spaces.” What I love is how airy and relaxed these spaces feel.
NF: This is really so nice to hear, it means so much. This book was a real labor of love, so I take your comments to heart!
ql: This book is a-typical. Usually, I find that interior design books are put out as templates for people to copy and use to create their own space. The homes you feature, on the other hand, feel so authentic to their owners. They’re so perfect in their un-fussiness for lack of a better word. How did you go about finding these people and their amazing spaces?.
NF: It wasn’t easy! I dug deep – I emailed every person I’ve ever met, and asked them to email their friends, for anyone that might fit the description I sent them. It was an experiment in social connectivity! And luckily people were responsive and open to being included, and so through friends of friends, I found all 23 homes that were located around the world. It was authentic and organic – and I think that came through in the book.
ql: You came from New York City, such a bustling place. Tell us about your transition to California and how that informed the way you live and work, both interns of interior design and lifestyle?
NF: It was a big transition. In the beginning, I was very casual about the move. In fact, maybe too casual – I figured I was in the same country and so how could it be that different? But it is, and it was a full lifestyle shift for me. I loved NYC, but also love LA and all of the amazing things this city has to offer. And everything is different for me. My clients are different, the design is different – and there is a really exciting design community that is producing really cool and fresh things. It’s hard for me to define what is different without making stereotypical statements about California – but I can tell you it is much more relaxed and lifestyle-prioritized.
ql: Without exception, all of the spaces in the book use air as a decorating tool. That sounds strange but I really feel it when I look at these photos. Air is such an integral part of the design of their homes. It feels like they have a strong desire to be close to the outdoors, even inside their home. What do you think that’s about? Where do you think that desire to be in the ocean and live life in close proximity to it comes from?
NF: I love that you felt that – I think you are totally right. Surfers are connected to nature and have a respect for it in a way that is unique – and that you can really feel in their design. Surfing is a sport that is totally and 100% dependent on nature – there is no way around it. And I think because of this, they make decisions to surround themselves with it at all time. The homes tend to stay away from materials such as glass, gloss, metals and lacquer. Instead, there is an emphasis on wood, stone and linen. Nothing feels precious, things feel better worn and natural. It’s just a way of life.
ql: What’s your relationship with the ocean? You know a ton of surfers now. Have you tried it? Tell us about it if you did.
NF: I don’t surf, not because I won’t, but I just have been so busy! But my husband does and he stores his boards in my studio. I stare at them all day long! Maybe that was the start of my inspiration. We try to go to the beach as much as possible, my husband and I both grew up on the beach on LI so it’s really important to us that our son, Wolf, does the same. We just bought a trailer in Malibu that we are fixing up and will be our new weekend getaway by the beach.
ql: Where did your interest in interior design come from? How does it feel to create a space that represents you as the designer but also the client? It’s so personal, what you do, creating a home for someone.
NF: I’m not exactly sure where it all comes from, but I have loved architecture and design for as long as I can remember. I went to RISD for architecture and so interior design is a natural extension of that. Regarding my design work, I feel really strongly that I am not doing the work for ME. It is all about the client. It is their home and I am only trying to make their dreams a reality. I think everyone has their own design intuition and I’m there to bring it to the surface.
ql: What are some of your favorite art, photography, design books?
ql: What’s your favorite genre to read?
NF: Just about anything! I don’t stick to a specific genre, I really read what I am in the mood for. I go through phases, so it is whatever is inspiring to me at the moment.
ql: Now that you have the experience of authoring a book and going on a book tour, do you think you’d like to do it again? Anything in the works that you can tell us about?
Oh yes! I loved the process of making a book – it was definitely more work than I thought it could ever be, but I found it to be so creatively fulfilling that I can’t wait to do it again. And I do have something in the works but I can’t share yet. The minute I’m ready I will let you guys know!
ql: Thank you so much for chatting with us, Nina. Now I’m going to go back to your book and swoon over the pages. Thank you again for sharing this with your readers! I’m a big fan and so excited to be included.