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13 December 2010  |  Furniture & Decorative Arts   |  Article

Arbiter of Style: Fashion and Home Designer Trina Turk

Founded in 1995, Trina Turk’s eponymous fashion collection  is one of the most sought-after brands in contemporary women’s ready to wear. Her signatures – bold colors, graphic patterns, and classic silhouettes – reflect the multicultural landscape and architecture of her native California. Beyond fashion, one of Turk’s lifelong passions is modern design. The designer and her husband, photographer Jonathan Skow, divide their time between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, where the couple’s restoration of their 1930s Ship of the Desert house has been recognized by the Art Deco Society of California. Describing her taste as “20th century modernist, with ethnic and Califoria craft touches”, Turk is an avid collector of furniture, textiles and vintage jewelry. Here she discusses the art of curating an interior, where she turns for creative inspiration, and why Christie’s Interiors are the perfect source for expanding your collection.

Designer at Heart… My mother taught me to sew when I was 11 years old, and I immediately fell in love with it. Once I figured out you didn’t have to follow the pattern, that you could change it and create something of your doing, it was an incredible revelation to me. That’s when I really began to see the world of possibilities in fashion and textile design.

Fashion Meets Design… My own decorating tastes mirror what I love in fashion – bright colors, interesting textures, casual sophistication. I see the experience of decorating a room as very similar to the process of putting an outfit together. Start with the “basics” (in a room, these are the walls, the flooring, the bigger pieces of furniture) and then build around them by layering on the accent pieces. And those “accessories” don’t necessarily have to be fancy or expensive. Most of the pieces in Christie’s Interiors sales are offered without a minimum sale price, which means you can take home incredible pieces for a lot less than you would pay in a retail store.

Everyday Inspirations… The landscape, climate and indoor- outdoor lifestyle of Southern California have an enormous impact on my designs. But anything can be inspiring – a painting, a classic Hollywood film, a house you drive by every day. You just have to keep your eyes open to the world around you!

Mix and Match… There’s something much more interesting and personal about a room with a bunch of disparate yet thoughtfully combined objects.  Auctions are the perfect destination for unusual, one-of-a-kind items, and because Christie’s Interiors sales take place almost monthly, you can keep returning to find completely new selections of one-of-a-kind treasures.

Most Coveted… One of many favorites is a sculpture of a giant metal dandelion mounted in a wooden stump. It’s reminiscent of Harry Bertoia’s sculptures, although the artist is unknown. The piece probably ten feet tall, and it has a very “California” feel – it reminds me of a sunburst. My husband and I found it at the Palm Springs Modernism Show and it’s now in the living room of our Los Angeles home.

Ideal Day Off… I’d spend it with my husband going on architectural home tours in Southern California.

Advice for the New Collector… Educate yourself! This is a key part of figuring out what you like, and why. Read as much as you can -- I’ve learned so much from auction catalogues. It’s also important to go to the sale previews as frequently as you can to see the works in person, because often something new will catch your eye in person that you hadn’t noticed in the catalogue. If you can’t attend in person, Christie’s makes all of their lots available online about one month prior to the sale, and you can read full cataloguing information, zoom in on images, and search for specific artists and design periods that interest you.

Trina Turk selected her favorite picks from the upcoming Interiors sale in New York for this month's Arbiters of Style feature. From a quirky umbrella stand to a watercolor by Sam Francis, let her choices inspire you.

Related Sale
Sale 2412
Christie's Interiors
11-12 Jan 2011
New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Related Departments

This month's Arbiter of Style, internationally renowned fashion and home designer Trina Turk