How Anna Karlin Gets Inspired
Anna Karlin is a multidisciplinary artisan working with furniture, lighting, digital, print, interiors, and set design. We’re lucky to carry her chic carafes, bringing art and function to the bedside. We chatted with Anna about her process, career and how she gets inspired.
Have you always known that you wanted to work in design?
I have always been creative but I certainly didn’t know my job existed probably up until I was actually doing it!
You began your career in art direction–what prompted you to move into design?
I’ve always worked across 2d and 3d but the 3d was mainly set design – I did the occasional commercial interior but the majority was always ’temporary’ for fashion shows and music events – I just knew I wanted to create something with more permanence. One of the things I loved about art direction and sets was the challenge of answering a brief made from words and thoughts in the language of design – this applied to both graphic and 3d work but one of the huge driving forces in launching my furniture line was the desire to look inwards instead of using that part of my brain that was always ‘answering’.
You have designed everything in your showroom, from the scent to the flatware. Will you tell us about the space and how it came together?
It was a wonderful chance to put all the elements of my creative endeavors in one place. I’m always tinkering testing and producing new pieces so this was the perfect place to put it all into a curated experience.
How do you continue to stay inspired?
I know this sounds cheesy but if you mind is open and your eyes are up there is inspiration in everything – it’s about how you look not what you are looking at.
GREEN CARAFE BLUE CUP
CLEAR BEDSIDE CARAFE
Do you have a particularly important career milestone that stands out?
Building my studio was a real milestone for me. I put literally everything into it and was ready to fail – I felt like I had to try and it’s been nothing but positive and the business has grown in a beautiful way ever since. I will always be grateful for my team who went on that journey with me – it really was a labour of love and I could never have done it without them.
How did London influence your work?
Growing up sounded by the architecture in London was a real privilege. I think it your eye in balance and proportions a skill I lean on everyday.
What are your favorite materials to work with, and why?
I don’t have a favorite as for me the work decides the materials for themselves. Materials are so emotive when I’m designing and as the piece evolves it becomes totally clear to me that it can only be made in exactly one material and that is what it ends up being.
You work across a range of disciplines: including, furniture, lighting, and jewelry. Do you have a favorite area to work in? Is it challenging to work across so many different mediums?
To me it doesn’t matter if it’s a chair or a diamond ring the design process is the same, it’s about about concept and emotion – the physical form is the result of the process.
I read that you are inspired by wabi-sabi, which is a Japanese concept that celebrates the imperfect. Will you elaborate upon how this ethos has inspired you and your design process?
I love the tension between nature and the man made. The perfect and there imperfect. Beauty is always highlighted by seeing the ‘hand’ be that the hand of human or mother nature. I hope that that tension is evident in my work.
You have collaborated with many notable brands, such as Adidas and Lululemon. How do these collaborations come about? How different is the design process when you are working with people beyond your studio?
It means there are other people involved in the decision making!
What has been one of your favorite projects to work on?
Whatever my latest piece is at the time of asking. making new works and developing designs makes me so happy.
What is a typical day like for you (pre-Covid and currently!)?
There isn’t a typical day which is what keeps things exciting. I work on so many projects at one time there is always something new to do.
How do you balance the business side of things and the creative work?
It’s something I’ve got a lot better at – it was a real learning curve. I knew nothing about business when I started and I didn’t know anyone who knew anything about business who I could lean on. I’ve come along way since I first started and now it’s more a matter of trying to balance my time and make sure I have really focused creative time. It’s up to me to be disciplined about it and I only have myself to blame when I fail to make that time.
Is there a former design movement that you would have loved to be part of?
Arts and crafts.
How important is experimentation within your work?
Are there any specific themes or references that you regularly turn to for inspiration?
Not really – everything is always evolving. ‘Useable sculpture’ is a phrase I often return to though.
Do you have any advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to get things wrong or ask questions. There is also no ‘right’ way to do anything just make sure your process works for you, those around you and the creative end result itself.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your job?
Day to day – the team that I work with mean a huge amount to me and I very much enjoy our studio days. When it’s just alone and I’m sketching or modeling something I’m happy on a very deep level and that’s very meaningful to me.
THE MOTHER’S DAY ROUND
What’s the greatest lesson your own mother taught you about wellness or beauty?
Keep it simple and a little bit of what you fancy does you good.
Do you have any nightly habits or rituals now that were inspired by your mom?
Always no matter how tired or tipsy you are – take your makeup off and moisturize.
How did becoming a mother affect your wellness and beauty habits?
Vindicated the keep it simple mantra!
What do you want for Mother’s Day? What will you be giving? 🙂
Honestly I’d take a bunch of Bodega tulips – we’ll see what my 18 month old (read his father) manages to pull off 😉