Designer Crush: Julia B.Author:Michelle Konstantinovsky
1. How did you first become interested in design, and what was the path to launching your own company?
Ever since I first relished in the beauty of the treasures that I discovered in my great aunt’s linen closet, I have always been intrigued by the beautiful patterns and amazing creations that can emanate from the hands of highly skilled artisans. Launching my own company was the direct result of having acquired the confidence to place my own design ideas and creations onto fabric while needing a way to support myself and my daughter as a single mother.
2. How did growing up in Tokyo and San Francisco influence your sense of style?
Whether it be Japan, or greater Asia, the serenity and subtlety of designs that have been coming from these amazingly rich cultures for centuries has always played a major role in my design thinking. When I successfully combine them with the beauty and artistry that Europe also provides us, then I know I have hit my mark and respected both my birthplace as well as the wonderful lands of my travels. Now that I have returned to my second home – Northern California – I am already busily working away on a new “East Meets West” (working title only) collection that will hopefully span both sides of the Pacific in its development.
3. How do you characterize Japanese style and American style; in what ways are they similar and in what ways are they completely distinct?
With the risk of sounding a bit cliché, America’s strength is being big, bold, brash and new. Japan on the other hand has a wonderfully reverent and sophisticated sense of tradition combined with quiet, subtle and exquisitely beautiful designs. As I add California to the equation, the pioneering spirit of the Gold Rush, now repeating itself with a “Technology Rush” I plan on embracing the best that both worlds offer while always being true to myself and what the Julia B. stands for. I have always been inspired by vintage designs regardless of their origins while delighting in the opportunity to bring a freshness of color and modernity to my creations.
4. You currently split your time between Connecticut and Northern California; what exemplifies “California style” to you?
The “split” is now over after a year of bi-coastal living and working. Together with my husband, who is also my business partner, we have settled into our new home, adjacent to our new Julia B. headquarters and showroom, on a little hill overlooking the glorious Russian River valley with its beautiful vines framed by the coastal mountains just outside the town of Healdsburg in Sonoma county. California is truly blessed with natural beauty and a climate that brings forth an endless array of colors and patterns. To some California = relaxed and laid back. To me it represents an amazing new palette of choices that are already inspiring my newest creations. Furthermore, California is not encumbered with the rules that more traditional regions of the country can, at times, suffer from. I have never felt so free.
5. What inspires your creative process?
Love for my husband and our family, an endless passion and quest for beauty – from endless sources, both natural and handmade, and above all else, a desire to celebrate handmade artistry while introducing to our clients the amazing work of the artisans who bring my creations to life. They are the true heroes in this process.
6. Craftsmanship is a big part of the foundation of Julia B. – how do you ensure the materials you source and the artisans you work with are up to your standards?
Research, experiments – inevitably including some that don’t work out and a maniacal attention to detail in every step of the what we do. Quality control, sourcing the best materials and artisans, these are absolutely central to our mission, each and every day. The three things I love the most about my job are, creating new collections, introducing beauty into our customers’ homes and working in true partnership with our artisans.
7. Tell us about the Suzanne Tucker Home for Julia B. line.
I already had the privilege to work with Suzanne for a number of years when she first approached me last spring to design and produce a collection together. I was honored and excited as Suzanne is truly one of the best. We have commenced our collaboration with five fabulous bedding designs and we, and our collective clients, couldn’t be happier with the results. Suzanne has a timeless sense of style which when combined with her huge passion for great textiles, have made this opportunity a wonderful venture. The results speak for themselves and I still can’t decide which of the five designs I love the most, a great sign of success!
8. Describe your dream vacation.
This perhaps the most difficult question of all but I will try…since new dreams are often only discovered in new places. Regardless of the place, it will always involve a combination of natural beauty, sumptuous food and a healthy dose of design exploration. Places where manmade beauty intersects with the gifts of nature are always the best destinations, often combined with an out of the way vintage flee market or a devoted group of artisans. And of course there is always Tuscany and Florence. ..so many of my husbands and my dreams and joys emanate from that special corner of the world.
9. Sweet or savory?
Savory — it’s so much more intricate and intriguing. But then again mille-feuille will always be mille-feuille.
10. Text or talk?
Talk. Listening to and talking with humanity always beats digital mania, always,
11. Books or e-readers?
What is an e-reader? ☺
12. T-shirt and jeans or cocktail chic?
I love jeans and t-shirts, but only to the extent that they allow me to be free to design the next chic and beautiful cocktail glass, napkin, coaster and plates.
13. Sleep in or seize the day?
I love my sleep. I love the coffee in bed that my husband brings me in the morning and then every day is always worth seizing.
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