Designer Crush: Kristin Riccio


Collaboration is one of the main drivers behind San Francisco designer Kristin Riccio’s work. From creating a shared vision with her clients to bringing that vision to life with architects and builders, she and her team design curate stunning interiors where they clients feel they belong. We had a lovely chat with Riccio to discuss what inspires her work as well as how she fills her time.

The designer. Photo by Robert Whitworth.

How did you get your start in design? I grew up surrounded by art and design; my grandfather was a painter and encouraged my creativity. My aunt is a designer and landscape designer, with an incredibly eclectic style that mesmerized me as a child. After studying design for many years, I traveled for months to visit as much as possible, and ultimately ended up at the Jewish Museum in Berlin. If you have witnessed Daniel Libeskind’s design in person, this next part will come as no surprise. After leaving that museum, and being physically guided through a host of emotions and experiences, I knew that I wanted to create spaces that moved people – both physically and emotionally. Quickly, I moved to NY to obtain a master’s degree in Interior Design. I started out in commercial interiors and furniture design. Upon moving to SF, I really fell in love with the personal, and intimate relationships within residential interiors, and have never looked back. 

Photo by Brad Knipstein.

How do you feel your background in art history and architecture influence your approach to design? Spending so much time learning from architects and studying inspirational work has molded my spatial analysis of rooms. I often experiment with and explore scale, sight-lines and planes in a way that would not be possible without my background. This approach helps me to consider rooms and adjacencies thoughtfully so that when you’re in the space it feels just right. Art History has been one of the most important foundations for my timeless and contextual approach and aesthetic. Understanding the origin of a building and the pieces you’re selecting for it, give the design a meaningful and significant quality. Rather than presenting arbitrary objects, my expertise in the historical associations create an intentional narrative for the space. 

Photo by Clinton Perry

What’s your process for getting to know a client? Time. I spend a lot of time learning about their personality, how they operate, what their goals are, and how they digest information. My firm has a very in depth questionnaire that often opens up hours of conversation. Getting to know our clients is one of the best parts of the process and I encourage them to spend time in this early phase, because it will only enhance our partnership, and the end result. We also share many images, go shopping together and I love to host them for a night out to help develop a comfortable rapport early on. 

How do you define “California style”? It really depends on where in CA, but I think there is an overall relaxed, functional aesthetic, focused on maximizing indoor/outdoor living. Californian’s are lucky to have incredible climate, natural light and historically significant design giants who have molded the landscape. The style is profoundly influenced by this, and includes layers of texture, naturally inspired colors and, and a handmade quality to accessories and decor. 

Photo by Brad Knipstein.

Who are some of your biggest professional role models and why? Jamie Bush blends color in a way that feels effortless, and yet so impactful. His spaces are deeply connected to the surrounding context and I am in awe of his custom designs and integration of vintage pieces as well. Also, art consultation is a huge component of our service, and Jamie is incredibly successful at building rooms around impactful pieces. 

Everytime I see a design by Pierre Yovanovitch, I’m overwhelmed by the simplicity of the space, and yet I’m completely drawn in by his use of form and color. It’s almost as if there is a stillness to the negative space in his designs that allows more room to appreciate the impeccably selected fabric and furniture.

Kelly Wearstler has an undeniable gift when it comes to blending pattern, color and style in a way that feels whimsical, effortless and totally unique. When you’re inside one of her spaces, you fully experience the layering and incredible detail that goes into every element. And I am forever amazed at the innovation of Kelly’s custom furniture and accessories…literally everything little thing she does is magic!

Describe your ideal vacation getaway. I love making discoveries while traveling, and prefer to not follow an agenda. Wandering and getting lost is how you meet locals and connect with the real culture of a place. A getaway that includes city time to explore, followed by a few days of relaxing on a beach is the best of both worlds!

Photo by Clinton Perry

 –First celebrity crush? Dylan McCay, aka Luke Perry

Favorite ice cream flavor? Rocky Road

Favorite self-care ritual? Running & long hot bath

Go-to dinner recipe? Baked sweet potato with fried eggs

Photo by Olga Soboleva

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