Designer Crush: Sarah Barnard


1. How did you get your start in the design industry?

As a native Angeleno, I spent much of my childhood living in historic homes, which sparked an affection for all things aged and beautiful. Later I studied art, interior architecture and sustainable design in undergraduate school, expanding my work with materials, form and space in graduate school, creating sculpture and environmental installations. It made sense that I found a niche in sustainable, healthy design, especially in California. One of my earliest projects was in a penthouse on Ocean Ave, which focused on preserving the beautiful ocean view and using reclaimed materials and natural textiles.

2. Your designs are “mindful of healthy living” – what does that mean to you?

Our mental, physical, and emotional health are deeply and immediately impacted by our surroundings. A visual connection with the outdoors can improve mood and productivity, and what we bring into a home or space (finishes, furniture, artwork) determines both the quality of the air we breathe and how we function in our daily lives. With that in mind, I give careful consideration to my clients’ unique personalities, lifestyle needs, and long term goals in order to craft customized spaces that contribute to their overall health and happiness.

3. What’s your process for getting to know a client?

No matter my clients future plans, I love to see where and how they’re living now. Observing their current possessions, collections and lifestyle—then having the opportunity to chat about what they love, what they don’t, and why is an excellent first step in getting to know each other.

4. How do you define “California style”?

California style is natural, luxurious, and comfortable. It is approachable, enduring, and connected to the landscape: mountains, valleys, sea, desert and the shore. Like the people here, it is often kind to animals, nurturing of artists, the earth and each other.

5. Where do you draw inspiration from?

My garden! I spend a lot of my free time there. The colors and textures that come with each season are delightful and inspiring. I grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, (carrots, radishes, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers of all kinds, cantaloupe, lemons limes, avocado, lettuces & herbs) as well as cactus, succulents and flowering/ornamental plants. Some of my favorites are Abutilon, Brugmansia and Camellia.

6. What’s your favorite travel destination and why?

Most of my traveling involves art, architecture and eating. Milan for the Salone del Mobile and saffron risotto. Paris for Maison et Objet and sampling potatoes at Chez Dumonet or my most recent trip to Victoria, Canada for the American Society of Interior Designers Platform retreat exploring sustainability, wellness, technology and lots of delicious local, farm-to-table cuisine.

7. Favorite musical album or artist of all time and why?

I am a forever fan of female singer songwriters. My favorites right now are Stevie Nicks, Ingrid Michaelson, Sarah Harmer, Corinne Bailey Rae, because they simultaneously independent, strong and feminine.

8. If you could design the set of any movie, which would it be and why?

The Other Boleyn Girl—they used gorgeous locations across the UK, and had brilliant sets with lush textiles and fine details everywhere. The set and costuming contribute so much to the feeling of period films like that, so color and material is important. Not to mention that I would’ve loved to meet a cast with two smart and talented female leads, Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. I would love to work on a project with either of them. They were both so enchanting in that movie!

Lightning round!

9. Chuck Taylors or Christian Louboutins?

Christian Louboutins.

10. Oreos or Chips Ahoy?

Oreos, although I occasionally eat the Newman’s Organic variety and pretend they’re not that bad…

11. Sand or snow?

Sand, every time.

12. Karaoke queen or dance machine?

Dance machine!

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