Photographer and designer Christina Craemer recently spoke with The Agency about her trademark style and designs that have been showcased from art installations in Southampton to exquisite home redesigns in L.A. Blending her photographic background with her love of architecture, her “tree house” inspiration for The Agency’s listing, 5720 Valley Oak Drive, was drawn from the property’s natural resources already available on the property.
Below, Christina discusses her process, influences and collaborations with other designers and artists that conceptualize ideas into creative environments and paintings for each of her clients.
A project you remodeled, 5720 Valley Oak (originally built in the 1950’s) was referred to as a “gentleman’s hunting lodge”. What was your inspiration behind your redesign in 2002?
Robert Byrd, the original architect, had situated the hunting lodge in such a delightful way on the property to maximize a natural tree house effect, I remember from the first moment we walked into the project how magical the feeling of all the oaks and sycamores were surrounding you at every turn. My inspiration was to keep this essential base while bringing the 1950’s scale and layout into the 21st century. The effect is sensational, with old growth trees wonderfully framed in each window. I added to the design by incorporating old growth redwoods from Northern California to further accentuate the tree house. I redesigned the floor plan to open up all the small scaled rooms, which then incorporated multi-slide doors to extend the floor plan to the terraces. I selected a soft palette of natural woods and concrete to keep the finishes very calm and organic and let nature be the focus on the interior spaces. Through these design techniques, I feel I have created a sanctuary in this unique setting.
In addition to being a successful architect and interior designer, you’ve also had artwork and paintings featured in a variety of shows. How do you implement your art through your designs?
I like to create environments for each client. Collaboratively, I work with my clients to establish the design concept. If the clients are naturally drawn to my artwork for their projects, I then like to create an environment that incorporates the work. For example, when developing a home spa for a client that wanted to incorporate my photographic work in the environment, the design effect was a curved enveloping wall of water. Recently, I installed a 14’ x 8’ photographic work in a master bedroom that resulted in a remarkably quiet and contemplative sensation for that room. Incorporation of my artwork into the designs is quite captivating.
You talk about ‘elements’ that elevate your projects – do you have trademark details that you include in each project?
I see my trademark as a consistent thread through my past projects of a blending of distinguished architectural elements, refined interior details, unique furnishings and of course the inclusion (or development) of an art collection. I feel it is important to have a range of elements in these areas to make the environments more visually and emotionally more satisfying. Past are the days of a single collection or a single aesthetic throughout. Expected surprise and pleasure come from such blending.
What does ‘luxury lifestyle’ mean to you?
A luxury lifestyle incorporates beauty, art, and an enveloping quality of comfort that stimulates a sensation in which clients feel special. I think that in creating luxury lifestyles our clients are looking for an intentional creation of beautiful and quality surroundings that add comfort and meaning to their lives, in contrast to the bigger better of days past. I believe that in creating these luxury lifestyles our clients fully appreciate contemplative surroundings that add comfort and meaning to their busy and demanding lives.
What do you envision the L.A. architectural blueprint to look like in 10 years?
I feel that we will see a trend in more organic contemporary architecture. I think (and hope) that LA has stopped copying Andalusian architecture and has really embraced contemporary architecture on both a commercial and a residential level. I feel that the current trend toward incorporating more luxury lifestyle is leading this next evolution. Architects and Interior designers are more focused on an awareness of organic contemporary styles which reflect our clients understanding and direction in foreseeable future.
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