Designer Crush Q&A: Christiane Kaalund of HBA

Lucky for us, Christiane Kaalund, who has been working in the firm's LA office for almost 20 years, offered to take a break from designing energetic, iconic, and fabulously luxurious spaces to answer our Designer Crush Q&A! 

1. Where do you currently live in CA and what's special about how you've designed your personal space?

I moved to Redondo Beach a few years ago with my partner, his belongings from two previous homes, and mine from one, so the décor is quite a hotchpotch, but I believe that there should be room for all regardless of one being a designer, so only my personal office has been fully done to my taste. It combines several Scandinavian Gustavian inspired office pieces mixed in with modern pieces – totally eclectic. It also houses the most comfortable couch in the house for reading/napping! Walking through the house tells many stories and we choose to live this way until things wear out and we are ready to change it all.

2. What's your dream design project? Who would it be for (dead or alive)?

I dream of the day I will take the time to explore my own design esthetic; I have spent 30 years designing for others with the focus on their wishes and dreams to the point that for seven years I have not been able to choose a new sofa for our home! The choices are too overwhelming.

3. In real life, what's your favorite design project you've completed to date?  

In 1997 I was given the challenge and opportunity to participate in the design of the 40 story Mulia Senayan hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, complete with public areas, a grand ballroom, restaurants, guestrooms and suites – from scratch to installation in 8.5 months - and we made it. It was the only time I totally relied on my gut feeling and instinct, as there was no time to dawdle, and the results were great.

4. You've been gifted a fabulously furnished dream home but can only bring one item from your current space. What would it be?

Will a whole collection do? If yes – then My Chinese Blue & Whites. I keep adding to the collection and never grow tired of looking at them.

5. What's your creative process when designing a space?

Research, research, research until I get the sense of ‘it’ being there, then laying everything out to get an overview. After that comes the architectural envelope, the décor, fabrics, details, art, and accessories. I do it all together, while I am in the zone, so that it all gels. My design schemes are most successful when done as a whole, rather than in stages.

6. Where do you score prized interior design items? Any shopping tips?

One Kings Lane is great for instant shopping, but for serious research I go to 1st Dibs and magazines. Shopping ‘in person’ is not high on my list - it requires a lot of time; any spare time I spend on the golf course to recharge my batteries and find a bit of Zen away from the intense design world.

7. Ever had an epic DIY disaster? What project would you never take on again yourself?

I know my limits, so I will have to go back a long while when setting up my very first home in Switzerland in a small one bedroom apartment. To separate the living and dining areas, I put up a bookcase on rods with adjustable shelves – you can imagine the rest. It all came crashing down with books, chotskies, flower vases, etc.

8. What new design trend are you excited to integrate into your next project?

I rarely work with trendy ideas; my clients are more interested in timeless design, but I do pay attention to color trends to keep classic interiors current. Right now I’m into French Blue.

9. Lightning round!  

Beach or mountains?


Twitter or Facebook?


Architectural Digest or Wallpaper?

Architectural Digest. 

Should you spend money on a fabulous bathroom or kitchen?

Kitchen. It’s pure therapy for me to putter around my kitchen and cook up a nice meal, so the right kitchen is essential.

Would you rather shop new or vintage?


Great view or perfect pool?

Great view.

SF or LA?

LA. I have family in SF and love to visit, but LA is still my preference.

10. What's one tip you wish someone had told you when first starting out in the design world?

If only I had known earlier how important it is to follow your gut feeling instead of reasoning your way to a great result.


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