Designer Crush: Erica Tanov


Solitude is the common thread that runs through everything designer Erica Tanov creates. Whether a slip dress, a rug or a beautiful necklace, Tanov’s work is a pure reflection of how she sees the world. We spent time chatting with the California native about where she started and where she is going.

Photos courtesy of Erica Tanov. Photo by Alanna_Hale.

How did you get your start in design? I studied Fashion Design at Parsons in New York.

You say you design by discovering the essential nature of things. Can you elaborate? Inspiration comes to me when I get to a deeper place of connection with nature. A communion of sorts that goes below the exterior happens when I am quiet enough to be in a garden or forest and lose myself.  Things in nature exist beyond thought, beyond intention and express themselves by being. I try to to connect to that essence—whether it’s a tree, a rock, the earth—nothing in nature is not essential.  A flower is not trying to be beautiful, it just exists. There are layers of experiencing, beyond what you initially see—looking beneath the surface. I try to have a deeper understanding, not in literal terms, but on an experiential level and express that feeling in my work.

A rug by Erica Tanov. Photo by Gabrielle Stiles.

The Fern table runner by Erica Tanov. Photo by Ngo Minh Ngo

-How does living California inspire your work? The close proximity to so many different kinds of beautiful landscapes deeply inspires my work.  So much beauty surrounds us.

Which other designers or creatives inspired your career the most? Agnes B. was a huge inspiration for me early on, in that the brand represented an entire lifestyle, not simply clothing to be worn a specific way.  She created an artistic universe in her stores, sharing her loves and influences. Also I admire Pablo Picasso for his lifestyle while living at Villa La Californie in Cannes, France. The seeming flow of creativity into every aspect of his life inspired me. His art touched every part of his life.  The beautiful chaos of paintings and sculpture everywhere, kids & animals running free, entertaining friends.  It’s that way of living—allowing your work and creativity to seep into every part of your life and sharing it with others—that inspires me.

The Fern tile in collaboration with cle tile. Photo by Molly Haas.

You are known for your iconic slip dresses, I know that recently Sarah Jessica Parker wore one on the Sex in the City reboot. Why do you feel the dress has lasted so long and what does the future slip dress look like? The slip dress is and always will be at the core of my collection, even as I evolve into the lifestyle realm, expanding my homeware offerings. I believe the slip is essential to a life well-lived. It’s the piece that is closest to your body, makes you feel good, sexy. Whether it is worn as an underpinning, unseen to the public or worn as a dress or layered with other clothing for all to see, I think the slip will always be a key element in any wardrobe. 

How have you shifted your business during the pandemic, that will remain a part of your process? The pandemic forced us all to slow down, which I fully embrace. I am designing with more intention, not thinking of seasonality or industry demands, but instead being led purely by inspiration and releasing collections when they’re ready.  It feels much more organic and authentic.

Fern pillow in navy and gold. Photo by Gabrielle Stiles.


Do you have a favorite restaurant in Berkeley? Bartavelle

-What is your one must-have morning or night essential? Coffee in the morning and a glass of wine in the evening while cooking dinner.

Which musician you are listening to right now? Steven Emerson–forever!

If you weren’t a designer, you would be? A botanist

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