Crushing on
Kara Mann

IDON'T KNOW WHEN MY DESIGNER CRUSH ON KARA MANN STARTED. It was sometime between my first discovery of her work and now. We share the same art consultant, who is now a long time friend to us both. She first introduced me to Kara's work many years ago, when using her as a reference. Her portfolio at that time held a variety of projects. Amongst them, one really stood out to me. This one was, come to find out, her own. From that moment on, I knew she was one to watch. And, I have watched. She is now one of the most intriguing designers around! The fact that she has her own sense of style is not the only reason. She is a rebel, a cowgirl of the 21st century… she does what she wants whenever she wants! To me, that makes a true artist. The day that I started thinking of doing a piece on her, I did a Google image search and up popped Kara sitting in front of a Gregory Crewdson photograph from the Natural History Series. It is a piece that I am madly in love with and I lost in an auction about a year and a half ago. Crush officially sealed! Now, I've had the chance to chat with this fiery hot cowgirl. Here is what she has to say:

“I grew up in a beautiful, well-edited home. There was beauty and balance not only in our visual surroundings but in our lifestyle—food, fashion, landscape.”

Kara is
inspired by...

Furniture designer Christian Astuguevieille
Her dog Chopper Mann
Chrome Hearts designs
Vivienne Westwood style

...did you become an interior designer/business woman?
I think if I break it down it’s being a product of my parents. My mom is really the one who inspired me to become a designer. I grew up in a beautiful, well edited home. There was beauty and balance not only in our visual surroundings but in our lifestyle - food, fashion, landscape. Thankfully that was somehow passed down to me and coupled that with my father’s entrepreneurial drive.

do you balance work life with play life?
I don't. I'm not gonna lie. But I just make life fun…no matter what I'm doing.

do you find balance in a room or in your design?
I find balance in juxtapositions…Casual and refined, minimal and opulent, glamorous and gritty.

client dining room photographed by Adam Heneghan


is your number 1 pick for your favorite all time piece of furniture? Do you own it?
Christian Astuguevieille anything. No! Damn!

is the craziest request you've ever received from a client?
Wow….not sure I can say in print….

is your most prized possession?
My apartment. It is a vintage co-op in Chicago's Gold Coast. The architecture is beautiful. It's full of my favorite things. And it's home.

is one thing in life that you cannot live without?
My 7 year old Spinone Chopper. He rocks my world. Our Saturday walks along the lakefront and Sunday morning coffee in bed routine just can't be beat.

is your favorite color?
I like too many....I can't pick just one!

is on your iPod right now?
LCD Soundsystem, Led Zeppelin, Trombone Shorty, Broken Bells, Cat Stevens.

crib notes

"I create the shapes, then I cover them."
—Christian Astuguevieille
His pieces are not about functionality or utility, they are about interaction. Utilizing tactile materials, he redefines conventional objects so that we look at them in a new way. Astuguevieille has created various objects; from jewels to tables, high-backed chairs
and lamps. [read more at]
shown: cord chairs exclusively at Holly Hunt
Cabo bedroom photographed by Wener Straube


Who is your favorite modern artist?
Marilyn Minter. Her art is sexy, gutsy....feminine with edge. At first glance it appears glamorous and fashionable. But looking deeper you see the grit, the dirt, the roughness.

Dinner with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Karl Lagerfeld! ...because he's a badass! In 1998 John Pawson, (who is one of my favorite architects, internationally recognized, amazing!) designed a plan for fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld's house in Biarritz, France. The circular sketch for the tennis court was rejected in a letter from the Chanel maestro who wrote, "I hate everything round."?

Who defines style for you?
Vivienne Westwood, for her willingness to take risks. What could be better than being a respected rebel?

right: Kara's work for Metropolitan Home's Showtime House photographed by Antoine Bootz.
leftt: the piece by Gregory Credson that I lost to Kara at auction!

crib notes

Marilyn Minter is an American artist currently living and working in New York. See Laura's interview with her in the ARTIST STUDIO.

Karl Otto Lagerfeldt is a German fashion designer and artist based in Paris. He is head designer and creative director for the fashion house Chanel, Fendi, as well as his own label fashion house, as well as the Italian house Fendi.

Dame Vivienne Westwood is a British fashion designer and businesswoman, largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream.

What if?

If you could buy one thing right now (price no object), what would it be?
The Diana Credenza by Jean de Merry. I covet that thing. I have visions of it in my dressing room.

If there was one designer (living or dead) that you could collaborate with,
who would it be and why?

Richard Stark, designer for Chrome Hearts. I am so inspired by his work and it would be an absolute dream to collaborate with him.

Looking back and looking forward, will you tell us about your design evolution and how it happened about the path and where you are hoping to go with you style/ career/ self?
About a year or so ago I was going for this “Kara Mann, all grown up” mantra. Then I thought “F*@# it!” I am who I am. One day I might be feeling a certain way and the next day the opposite extreme and I am just kinda rolling with it and having fun!

If you had to paint yourself in one paint color-what would it be and why?
Black. Because I can't help myself.

crib notes

The Diana Credenza by Jean de Merry

Chrome Hearts is an American luxury brand, founded in 1988 by motorcycle enthusiast Richard Stark, that specializes in high-end silver jewelry, leather clothing and furniture with gothic rock motifs.

client bathroom photographed by Adam Heneghan