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An Exclusive Interview With Kelly Wearstler, Design Icon

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Photo via <a href="">Kelly Wearstler</a>
Photo via Kelly Wearstler

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Kelly Wearstler visited San Francisco this week to accept the Design Icon award from California Home + Design Magazine, so we took the opportunity to have a chat with the Los Angeles-based interior, clothing and jewelry designer. Turns out she's been spending a fair amount of time up north lately to work on a hotel (possibly the $40 million revamp of Mid-Market's Renoir?). Luckily she doesn't mind spending time in the Bay Area—the place where our rustic sensibilities meet SoCal's glam tendencies is where she thrives as a designer. Read more about her favorite SF 'hood, what her first apartment looked like, and her new focus on jewelry design in our interview below.

Do you visit San Francisco often? Do you have any favorite shopping haunts? How about restaurants?
"Yes, I am working on a new hotel in San Francisco, so I am in the city often with my team. I am an avid collector of vintage—so I love shopping in the Haight. I always hit Blue Bottle Coffee when I'm in town. The location at the Mint is such a cool building with a rich history—and their nel press is incredible! Its truly one of the best cups of coffee you can find.

We are huge fans of your style. Do you think there's a big difference between Northern and Southern California style when it comes to decor? How about street style?
"California has that pioneer spirit. It has an adventurous soul. There is a common thread of a healthy lifestyle that embraces nature and the outdoors. SF is a little funkier, a little earthier maybe. LA arguably embraces more of a glamorous side. That tension is what inspires me most. The juxtaposition of raw and refined, elegance and ease. Sartorial style up north is definitely different if only for the weather. There is a lot of fun to be had with accessories up north, scarves and hats and layers. I wear Golden Goose sneakers in the city. Flats are a must with the hills and walking culture. My look in LA is a great heel and a vintage tee. I love the mix of high and low.

Would you say your interior style is similar to your sartorial style? Does one influence the other?
"Absoultely. I have always been inspired by fashion. I wear a lot of vintage. There is always a mix of vintage and contemporary designs in my interiors. Its about creating a look that feels spirited, soulful and curated with a sense of history that is still fresh and unexpected. I see home accessories as jewelry for a room. I may be designing a ring or necklace and the metal work, patina or stones can inspire hardware on a drawer. The mediums fuel one another."

How do you make your hair look so awesome?
"I have a pretty minimal routine, and a great hairdresser: Leland Ferrell at Salon Benjamin in LA."

Congratulations on being named Style Icon by CA Home + Design! How does it feel to be named an icon?
"It was an unexpected pleasure. Especially to be recognized by a publication that celebrates the California lifestyle—it's such an integral part of my aesthetic. California has been so good to me and informed by style in so many ways. Awards are incredible and an honor. At the end of the day, the work itself is my biggest reward. The ability to wake up every morning, kiss my boys and go to work at my dream job is a privilege. I love what I do."

What interior trend are you so over?
"I do not care for designs where everything in a room comes from the same store. It feels one note. Every room needs a little soul."

What did your first apartment look like?
"My first apartment was a mix of things I found at flea markets and thrift stores as I was on a tight budget. But I made a point to give all the vintage finds new spirit with paint, fabrics... You have to be creative and beautiful things will happen. Take risks and explore."

We love your products—both interior and apparel. What's next for your brand? Is it true you're streamlining your clothing brand and expanding jewelry?
"In terms of what's next for the brand, I am launching new rugs with The Rug Company this year and will continue to expand my collection of furniture and decorative accessories. I will also introduce new designs with Paperless Post.

It is true that I am focusing on jewelry at the present, although we continue to work on our denim and tees—all inspired by the quintessential California girl. Working on my jewelry collections has been such an amazing exploration of my passion for mixed metals and stone work. I am excited to throw myself entirely into the process, hone my craft and explore new styles that are distinctive and tell a unique story. Jewelry truly decorates my life.