Carly Kuhn grew up in an artistic family, but she never set out to become an artist. “That was always my brother’s world. Growing up, he could create these perfect photograph-like pieces.” But in moments of downtime during her gig as a TV producer at shows like Chelsea Lately, she started to doodle.
Those doodles turned into an Instagram account, which caught the eye of Sarah Jessica Parker and Rachel Zoe, and led to work with brands from Dior to Prada and Capitol Records. “I suddenly realized that I don’t have to create perfect pieces. It’s the perfectly imperfect that people are drawn to,” Kuhn says.
The overnight growth of her illustration business however led to imperfectly imperfect living conditions. Her new live-work loft wasn’t optimized for living or working. “When you’re working from home and the organization isn’t right, it ends up clogging your creative process,” Kuhn says.
So, in anticipation of the launch of her new website and online retail business, she decided to tackle her studio space with the help of Laurel & Wolf designer Julian Porcino.
“I’m of a generation that does everything on a screen—dating, ordering food, finding a handyman—so it made sense to me to design my home that way too,” Kuhn says.
“When you work from home, you want to be sure the work aspect doesn’t feel that apparent so that when people come to your home they don’t feel uncomfortable, as if they’re entering your workspace,” Kuhn says.
Was it hard for someone who works in the arts to relinquish creative control in the design? Not at all.
“Collaborating is really important to me. As an artist, it can get lonely and you can get up in your head. When you have someone else come in with a fresh set of eyes, it brings a whole new life into the project,” Kuhn says.
Porcino created a gallery like space, drawing inspiration from Kuhn’s monochromatic pieces and bringing color in through Cali-inspired plants, from cacti to succulents and a banana leaf tree. A large scale mirror reflects the bright Cali sunshine, making the space appear even larger. “I need to have light and feel like the space is open in order to feel inspired,” Kuhn says.
The rooms neutral palette keeps the focus on Kuhn’s work, which lines an entire wall and is showcased on a large wooden easel. The large dining table doubles as a workspace and a place for Kuhn to entertain and to discuss pieces with clients. But when it comes to her favorite piece in the room, it’s the white flat file units, which house the hundreds of drawings that she’s produced.
And they came just in time. Kuhn recently launched a website, which includes both an online store and a series of articles celebrating the work of her favorite creatives in and around Los Angeles. She hopes in the future to turn her illustrations into wallpaper, coastsers and other homegoods and to curate pieces from others makers in her shop. One of her first clients will be Porcino.
“Getting to know Carly and her art was my favorite part of the design process. I can’t wait to purchase her prints for my future clients,” he says.
For now, Kuhn is enjoying settling into her new digs.
“I finally have a place that is not just for or just for living. It’s the perfect place for work, play, eating, drinking, living.”