Designer Crush: Heather Ashton

1. Who is your biggest role model?

When I consider all the amazing people making a difference every day, it’s hard to name just one, but when I think of who motivates me as a designer, who I quote daily, and whose innovation changed an industry, I think Coco Chanel. From humble beginnings, she created an empire that over the last 100 years is still the most recognizable and revered brand in fashion. She was also a real tough broad and I love that.

2. Which movie or play do you wish you could have designed the set for?

I would be Wes Anderson’s set design intern for life if I could, but to digress from the question a bit, I still watch Gossip Girl for interior inspirations. Between Blair’s Upper East Side traditional space and Serena’s downtown art-heavy penthouse, and Chuck’s Empire Hotel mixed in, I am still seeing references I can pull into my visual library that feels fresh and luxe. Xoxo, Gossip Girl.

3. What is the best way to gauge a client’s personality before starting a project?

Working with a client can be like dating. The first couple of dates, everyone is excited and on their best behavior, but once the work really starts, that’s when you find out if it’s true love. For me with clients, transparency and managed expectations is the key with a great client/designer relationship, no matter the personalities involved. Like a new romantic relationship, investing in a new space, no matter the budget, is scary and clients need to know you are their partner in the process. 

4. What new design trends are you excited to integrate into your work?

I’m inspired by Morocco, in general, and am excited for the arrival of Moroccan-patterned tiles sourced from cool LA-based brand Kismet Tile, which I am using for an upcoming West Hollywood restaurant project. I love the rose gold trend in lighting and hardware accents I am now seeing everywhere. When visiting the European and Asian shows this spring, I also saw a move away from the reclaimed, distressed look, to a more finished, Scandinavian, lighter wood trend and I couldn’t be happier! I am always inspired by minimalism and have a new outdoor line, launching mid-April, inspired by the simplicity of the wire frame with colors that celebrate California.

5. How do you completely unwind?

Because it’s so impossible to completely unwind in Los Angeles, once a year I spend a week in Tulum for my birthday. Nothing but sun, beach, naps, and delicious food. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to get a WiFi signal where I stay, so I am truly off the grid. When I’m in LA, I spend my free time at the stables horse riding. It’s a very therapeutic mental break on a more regular basis to keep sane and present. 

6. If you hadn't become a designer, which career would you have pursued?

Private investigator. I love to do research and at its core, being a designer is a constant exercise in sourcing, finding that perfect fit, and digging in odd places in the hopes of a great discovery. And I like being in on a secret, so I think Ashton PI could be really fun. 

7. What’s the worst pre-designer job you’ve ever had and why?

All jobs have their challenges, and I spent all my pre-designer years working as a bartender. At the time, it was really fun and spending all that time in restaurants inspired me to want to design them, so I can’t say it was a bad job, but I am happy to be designing the bars now and not working behind them!

8. What’s your favorite recipe?

I love the Picante de la Casa at the Soho House…here is their recipe, and I can only take credit for drinking it, not making it!

Ingredients

2 ounces Cazadores tequila

Red chili and cilantro, muddled

1/2-ounce agave nectar

1-ounce fresh lime juice, squeezed

Directions

Muddle red chili and cilantro leaves in a mixing glass.

Add Cazadores tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice, and agave nectar.

Shake hard.  

Serve over ice, garnished with top of red chili pepper.

9. Create your perfect playlist for us.

This is the most impossible task! I love all different kinds of music and have playlists for a myriad of moods and occasions, so this list is specific to right now!

Lightning round!

10. Would you rather shop new or vintage?

Vintage.

11. First celebrity crush?

John Stamos, then and now!

12. What’s your hidden talent?

Pop culture trivia.

13. Best restaurant in your area? Where is it?

Terroni is my favorite. It’s cool, casual, and delicious. It’s on Beverly Boulevard near the Grove in Los Angeles.

14. SF or LA?

I love to visit SF, but the weather in LA cannot be beat!