Stick to the thing that is important to you. Don’t jump around. If you feel you want to be a designer, just be a designer.
Kristin Collins is an interior designer with an unstoppable work ethic and open-hearted approach. An instinctual desire to chase her dreams has propelled her to travel the world and build a business. By having “a willingness to just try and to stare down [her] fear,” she has created a name and brand all her own.
Kristin grew up in New Jersey and lost her mother when she was young. As a teenager, she was raised by her grandparents. Balancing their desires to keep her safe and allow her freedom, Kristin’s grandparents let her explore her rebellious side. She’d often hang out at New York City nightclubs, which influenced her ability to fantasize. The loud music helped her get lost, listen and absorb. “You weren’t chatting. Everything was just a fantasy,” Kristin says. “That was really the beginning for me of truly using my imagination.”
Her grandmother eventually called out that imagination and declared, “You’re going to be a designer.” Kristin agreed.
After high school, Kristin studied design at the Pratt Institute in New York City. With her degree in hand, she landed a design job in Shanghai, in part because she knew the metric system. It was her first time in an environment so different from her native culture, but she was excited for the opportunity and stayed open to the experience. “When you’re outside of what is normal and comfortable for you, you just need to be quiet and take it in and see what happens.”
After Shanghai, Kristin took the money she’d earned to California and instead of continuing to work for others, she bet on herself. “I could either use the $20,000 and pay my rent for the next few months while I found another job and pay my other bills, or I could hire an assistant, buy a computer, and blow it all basically in six weeks. And that’s what I did. I formed an LLC. I just took a chance honestly, and it worked out.”
That chance led her to work with clients in Saudi Arabia. Again, Kristin finds herself immersed in a new culture, but remains inspired by it. Sometimes, she spends weeks or months at a time there, and she makes sure to discover what’s important to the families for whom she creates. She says, “The people in the room, they are the most precious. Your father being comfortable on the sofa while he sits and chats with you is the most important thing in the world.”
Kristin is still based in LA, where she continues to evolve her work and imagine spaces that engender conversation, entertainment and comfort. She has recently begun a new business venture called Furniture Clubhouse that simplifies the process of sourcing unique and high quality furnishings from artisans around the world. "After 10 years of working on international design projects, I know it's tough to get the best quality products from the best places around the world shipped to your front door. It's hard to find, it's hard to buy and it's hard to ship. I want to make it all easy!"
She is living the dream her grandmother saw for her. Kristin has worked relentlessly for everything she’s accomplished and has always chosen to go all in. She encourages other creatives to do the same. “Stick to the thing that is important to you. Don’t jump around. If you feel you want to be a designer, just be a designer ... Take the chance. It’s terrifying, but just do it. Go all the way in.”
Stories & Surroundings
"Sandalwood is burned in every Saudi home and has a distinctly Saudi smell which I had immediately been excited by. Saudi families love scents and perfumes which is a sense that I love using as a new means of providing a memory about a time and place."
"Choosing colors is all some people think decorators do, and I can assure you, that is not the case."
"The abaya couldn’t be a more polarizing topic to bring up. To almost everyone, you mention this outer robe worn by women in Saudi Arabia, you receive uncomfortable questions, remarks and uncertainty. Personally, I enjoy the opportunity to wear one, stand tall and feel incredibly gorgeous and even royal in my incredibly comfortable abaya."
“…my library is precious. It shows a timeline of my development, provides endless inspiration and is eternally growing. Regardless of digital access to much more, the focused calm of flipping pages through one book and letting the mind experience its own wonder is a more real design experience for me.“
Written by Courtney Romano Photography by Sara Clarken