Designer Crush: Lindsay Gerber

Photos by Paul Dyer

Northern California native Lindsay Gerber embraces every aspect of the Golden State’s unique aesthetic in her interior designs. Inspired by the dramatic, diverse landscapes she grew up admiring, as well as the expert skills of her decorator mom and godmother, Gerber combines form and function to fit each client’s needs. In addition to her extensive world travels, Gerber’s 15-year career as a competitive equestrian also deeply influences her work, as evidenced by her use of bold scale and natural elements like textured woods, stone, and leather. Learn more in our Q+A below.

1.     How did you get your start in design?Birth? Where to begin!? Recreational weekend reading for me at age 10 was Architectural Digest so that says something!  My mom, an interior decorator by heart not trade, definitely cultivated that passion in me by allowing me to constantly redecorate my bedroom, which I did.  At one point in high school I went through a Japanese influenced, minimal moment where my mattress was directly on the floor and all lighting was Noguchi knockoffs!  Wow – that is a flashback! If I had to literally pinpoint where it all began I’d say it was during my senior year of high school (Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough) where seniors were tasked with spending the last few months of the year researching a senior project / thesis. I did mine on the “World of Design” which translated into my getting short internships with Gensler, Orlando Diaz Azcuy (ODADA), a landscape/city planning firm and a product design firm. By the end of those months and by the time I presented my final project I knew.  I wanted to be an interior designer. Looking back now, I can trace that every major life step from that very moment was directed towards this goal. I’m really proud of where I am and what I’ve built but wow I have so much farther to go!

2.  How do you think being a Northern California native has influenced your aesthetic? It has everything to do with how my style and aesthetic developed. It’s hard not to be indelibly impressed by the rugged yet simply breathtaking Big Sur Coast or our towering redwood forests or the magical, soft golden light you can only find in Napa or the deep, powerful blue color that radiates from Lake Tahoe. I have so many sweet memories of staring dreamily out the car window on long drives watching the California landscape slip by and morph and change so dramatically as it does. My interiors seek to bring all that exquisite and unique beauty inside.

3. You come from a family line of interior designers — in what ways do think growing up around the industry inspired you and how did you carve out a unique style? Both my mother and Godmother were interior decorators by heart not by trade. They never did it for work but because they enjoyed creating beautiful spaces for people they loved. It was so simple and so pure.  Dinner parties, birthday parties, holidays and every inch of our home was so thoughtfully and elegantly executed.  These things really mattered to my mom because she saw how those superficial things added inherent and lasting value to the quality of our lives. That laborious attention to detail and sincere belief that beautiful spaces create beautiful memories is deeply imbued into my heart. My mom, who passed away 17 years ago, lived her life for two things — beauty and love — and that has informed everything about the way I have built my business. I lead with my heart when taking on each new project and client. My focus is always on envisioning my clients walking into their space and feeling joy and feeling love.  Beauty is subjective, as we know well so the feeling has to be there. You can only achieve that by leading with your heart. I learned that from them.

4. You create designs that balance “dream and function.” Can you describe a few examples of how you do that? I want it to be beautiful but I want it to practical and I want you to use everything I put into your home (a lot!). As the mother of an ebullient 17 month old girl and an 11-year-old 90 lb. chocolate Labrador (who yes, watches TV with my husband and me every night on our velvet couch), I intimately know wear and tear and will say that you won’t inherently love something unless every member of your family can use it and love it too. So we choose practical fabrics but only the gorgeous ones! And we choose practical finishes but only the gorgeous ones…you get where I’m going with this. As for the dream part of my process, that is actually quite literal and I am sure that every one of my clients has received at least one email that began, “last night I had the best dream…” and the design for that space will have come to me fully fleshed out. The problem is I can’t set a timeline for those dreams, so sometimes a room will just have to wait until it does. Patience is a virtue, right?

5. Being a competitive equestrian also influenced your work — tell us more about that. On the tack room wall of the stable I grew up riding at hung a framed embroidered duck with this written below: “Always behave like a duck. Remain calm and unruffled on the surface, but paddle like the devil underneath.”  Can you think of more perfectly appropriate advice for an interior designer?!  I can’t and I remind myself of that advice daily. Horses have been the passion of my life. I was a competitive hunter/jumper from age 7 to 18 and then once I went to college, I just rode for fun and invested in starting young horses. Horseback riding and the relationship between horse and rider is such a profound one because of the dualities that exist. The literal abilities of the horse and rider could not be more unmatched but somehow they learn to work together in the most beautiful and symbiotic way.  Brute power vs. subtle technique. This duality is something that deeply influences my work. It translates into my paying attention to scale, shape and texture and playing those against each other. The way two items stand together and speak to each other. The mix of raw and refined, rustic and elegant. And never forget, the duck!

5.  Who are some of your biggest inspirations and why? Axel Vervoordt is it for me.  Hands down the most mesmerizingly simple and beautiful work. I love Michael Taylor for his bold use of scale and utilization of rustic, natural materials. He defined the elegant yet rustic California style and I am so proud to have one of his original travertine tables presiding over my design studio. My mom, for being a constant reminder that beauty is love and my dad for giving me the tools to translate that sentiment into a career. My husband for teaching and showing me that you never give up on your dream, no matter what and that shortcuts don’t exist, only hard work does.    

Lightning round!

7. Beach or mountains?


8. Dance machine or wallflower?

Hmmm depends on what I’m drinking…

9. First concert?

Dave Matthews Band!

10. Biggest celebrity crush?

Have you met my husband? No comparison.

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