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Whether curating spaces, creating custom furnishings or staging homes, interior designer Christina Karras has the edge.
How did you get your start?
Christina Karras: I grew up in Northern California during the 70s, when sophisticated bohemian was all the rage. My parents were really into mid-century modern, but with a groovy flair. It was from them that I learned how a serious antique could mix with a flashy statement piece.
When I left home, I followed my dream of being a performance artist in Los Angeles and San Francisco. My world consisted of wild artists, musicians and the other avant-garde fringe-dwellers who would eventually become my first set of clients. And, since my Hollywood Hills home became the hangout for all the late-night parties, I naturally wanted to create a haven for my guests, one that really enhanced a cozy, sensual vibe, but with an edgy rock ‘n’ roll slant.
What influences you?
Christina Karras: Fashion and movies, as I feel they are often so ahead of the curve—the amazing set design from a stylized film that transports me somewhere exotic; or a haute-couture runway show decadently staged in a French chateau; or hours spent in the pages of a vintage photography book looking through the lens of a renowned artist.
I grab inspiration from so many different places: celebrated eras, nature and its grandeur, street art, even my own earthy upbringing. With time periods, I enjoy the sensuality of the 1920s, the edginess of the music scene in the 60s and 70s, mid-century design. It’s a constantly moving target, I guess.
What is your driving creative force today?
Christina Karras: Right now it’s more about color and texture. I admit I don’t much like to follow “rules,” as they seem to change all the time. Ultimately, I believe that a home needs to bond with the people living in it.
How does Southern California factor into your work?
Christina Karras: I adore Old Hollywood glamour. There’s definitely a kind of history you can only find here. Plus, how lucky am I that I get to work in the eternal sunshine of Southern California? Outdoor spaces, specifically, have become a big source of focus and inspiration for me. I also find great joy in a well-done poolside.
Layers and textures are the key to my work. If I listed everything I planned to put into a room, it might seem like a cacophony of design, but when everything is in place, there’s a harmony to it. Everything is finely curated, so nothing is random. I think that gives a space depth.
What are your other design signatures?
Christina Karras: Lush fabrics, casual elegant flow between rooms, playful outdoor spaces, bohemian living. I am often drawn to a sensual, earthy palette, but also love couture and high-glamour. I guess you can say unpredictability might be a hallmark then. And, by that I mean, I don’t design with a theme in mind or for everything to match.
The whole idea is to craft a vibe—something intangible, maybe something even you can’t quite articulate, but that transforms the experience of everyone who enters the room.
Do you have a pet project?
Christina Karras: My pet project is my showroom on La Brea. I have a new bad boy furniture collection coming out, plus a textile line full of velvets and linens. I will always hold the resort I did in Costa Rica very close to my heart. It was a crazy amount of work and travel, but I fell in love with the raw, wild jungle and slowed-down pace of life.
I was honored to work with Bernard Judge, who was the architect for Marlon Brando’s Tahitian island compound. I learned so much about flow and expanding on natural beauty; that is where I began to spread my wings. As creative director of the project, I was able to really color outside the lines from the ground up.
Christina Karras: I am currently working with a group of music producers and writers. I started with the company headquarters in West Hollywood and now am doing a lot of the homes of the musicians who work there. I just finished a speakeasy atelier ShayQ in Hollywood and got a taste of what it would be like to do a boutique or a hotel.
456 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles 90036
323.939.9996 | ChristinaKarras.com
Photos courtesy of Rick Mendoza