Mother Of Invention: Christiane Lemieux Of DwellStudio Inspires Us To Live Creatively
Who she is: Christiane Lemieux, founder and creative director, DwellStudio. Mom to Isabel, 5, William, 3, and Jake, her big old Labrador.
Why we love her: Her bold graphic textiles and designs – and her recent book, Undecorate – inspire us to unleash our own creative whimsy and embrace our personal style when it comes to designing our living spaces.
In her own words…
What motivated you to create DwellStudio? It was very organic. I was working as the design director for an amazing home company in New York called Portico. I tested a few of my designs in the stores and when I saw that there was a real demand, I left and started DwellStudio.
You are a pioneer when it comes to modern textiles and home décor. Now all these different companies are emulating your designs. How do you stay current? We just try to keep pushing design and style. I think that personal style is something that evolves and gets better and better. Our consumers are on a style journey with us and we don’t want to let them down. We want to keep pushing ourselves to learn, evolve and eventually deliver to our customers. We look at everything style-related as inspiration and we try to set trends as opposed to following them.
Did having children inspire you to start your line of modern baby textiles? That’s funny, I get asked that all the time. I started the baby line three years before having children. It was a natural extension of what we were doing in home and we felt that parents with great style should have better options. My kids do weigh in now. You’ll see cool dinosaurs and unicorns in our new collection that are inspired by them.
Where do you get your inspirations for your designs? From everywhere – New York, travel, flea markets, antique hunting, fashion, galleries, restaurants, even walking down the street. I live in the SoHo section of New York and the windows of all the stores inspire me every morning on my walk to work.
Who are your style icons? I have so many but right now I am living and breathing furniture, so I am so feeling Billy Baldwin, Serge Mouille, Hans Wegner, Edward Wormley, Paul McCobb – all the European and American mid-century classics.
What is the most satisfying part of what you do? I am eternally curious so I love that I get to try something new all the time, from textiles to furniture to fashion accessories for Anthropologie to my book. It’s always a new challenge and it keeps me so involved, passionate and interested. I never want to stop learning or trying new things!
What is the biggest challenge? I know that this sounds super cliché but balancing work and home. As a woman, it’s way harder than I expected. I always feel like I could be better at both if there was just more time.
With you and your husband running the business, how do you balance career and family? I am not sure we balance anything – with two small children, it’s triage. Josh and I are a real team at the office and home. I will say though: He is that dad – the one who does the field trips and drop off. I think since we have to work like crazy but have flexible hours we can really be there for our kids.
How many hours of sleep do you get each night between running your business and spending time with your family? I have to get eight hours or I am less productive. I really envy these people who can sleep four hours and are super efficient. That is just not me. I am very disciplined. I get the kids to bed and go to bed at 9:30-ish. I read a lot to switch off.
How is Dwell evolving? What’s up next? Our first home furniture line hits the floor in September and we are planning to open our first retail store.
What inspired you to create your new book, Undecorate? The book, like the company, was a very organic thing. I got the call, met with Clarkson Potter/Random House and they asked me for two proposals. I did two and they picked Undecorate. It was a great experience and one of the coolest things I have ever done. I crossed the country with my photographer and our team and shot 22 homes. I fell in love with all the homeowners. I then got to go through the editing and layout process. It’s a fascinating business. One amazing thing I learned is that your cover should read blue – blue book covers sell, brown don’t.
Why “Undecorate”? Undecorate is how I describe what I see happening in interior design right now. I think this movement is multi-factorial in its genesis. With the advent of the design blog, interior design, design media and publishing are suddenly in the hands of everyone. People who are not professionals in the strict sense are writing, designing and sharing ideas. The result is amazing, innovative, organic and personal.
What’s your advice for creating a kid-friendly yet stylish home? Choose great things that you can easily clean. Most of all, let your kids be part of it. Let them climb and play on everything. Marker comes out and the memories of a fun childhood are priceless. My kids treat our home like a jungle gym. The whole place. One of their favorite games is to sit on the top of the dining table under the chandelier and play castle. I get it! [ITPGallery]