Designer Crush: Carissa Duncan of SALT + BONES


1. How did you get your start in design?

I have always been a creative person from a young age, and one that was obsessed with space, composition, color and texture. We moved a few times as a child and I was constantly rearranging/wanting to repaint my room. I had always pursued the creative arts growing up – ceramics, photography, etc, but never considered a creative path for my profession. The breakthrough moment happened when I was a sophomore in college, business school to be exact (econ major); which at the time I thought was a secure choice even though it was not something that I enjoyed, and I decided to take an intermediate photography class as an elective, and after one week in the class I knew I needed to change my educational path. This class re-ignited my passion for the arts and I immediately reevaluated my situation; long story short I decided to explore interior design and my passion for space as a potential career. Within a year I was in design school pursuing my degree in interior architecture and design and working for a design firm concurrently,  and the rest is history!

2. Why the name SALT + BONES?

The name of our studio is a literal derivative of the naturally occurring, universal, and essential mineral, as well as speaks to the structural integrity of the spaces that we design. Just as salt is used to enhance flavor, we strive to enhance the aesthetic, quality, and health of the spaces that we design. Also, it is typical to hear someone describe a space as having “good bones” ; and I find so much satisfaction in being able to be a part of the process of creating or reshaping the bones of a space and bringing it to life or giving it a new one.

3. You specialize in restaurant, hospitality, and residential interiors – what commonalities do those categories have when it comes to the design process, and how are they very different?

What we choose to surround ourselves with can make an already responsive architectural space even more interactive and in tune with our sensory needs. Both residential and hospitality design are rooted in creating an experience and evoking a feeling, however one being an intimate and very personal expression of how we live on a daily basis, and the other a fantasized and more conceptualized experience.

4. How do you find the artisans and manufacturers you work with and what special qualities do you look for?

A lot of the artisans and manufacturers that we work with have been found through mutual connections, friends, professional colleagues, trade shows, and if I am being honest . . . Instagram connections. I truly believe that one attracts the type of energy that one puts out –  and I have been fortunate enough to work with talented, interesting and highly skilled artisans, artists, and manufacturers. I look for an attention to detail, passion for their craft and overall integrity of the product that they produce.

5. How do you define your personal style and how do you stand apart from other designers?

Purposeful and refined. Sensual. Understanding of place. A study of textures and contrasts. Reinterpretation of the familiar. Intoxicating. Balance of edgy and refined. Lush minimalism. Ultimately the spirit of my design sense is found in its timeless restraint and refinement. The goal being to thoughtfully balance the above listed concepts and sensitively create spaces that heighten the human senses.

I make a habit of not comparing myself to others – for me it is not about setting myself apart as much as it is being completely authentic and honest about who I am, how I see design, and how I approach each project.

6. Which musical album, book, or film has inspired your aesthetic the most and why?

Any book put out by Axel Vervoordt.  His work has had a major influence on the development of my aesthetic.

7. Describe your ideal vacation.

Water, sun, art, inspiration, adventure, relaxation and rejuvenation. Anywhere that checks all those boxes! 

Lightning round!

8. Beach or Mountains?


9. Rom-com or horror?


10. Tattoos: yay or nay?

Yay . . . but only to good ones.

11. Justin: Bieber or Timberlake?

Timberlake . . . Filthy.

12. Gelato or fro yo?




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