For a certain swath of L.A.'s creative class, Heather Taylor is living the dream. She's an art consultant, textile designer, home-goods entrepreneur, "It" girl, wife and mother. Her style is artisanal yet sophisticated — with a worldview that is shared by an influential niche of local designers whose commitment to handmade craftsmanship and authenticity is getting noticed on an international level.
"I've never been drawn to perfection," Taylor says. "Perfection is the apex, eliminating any room for discovery or growth. I am much more interested in finding beauty in the unexpected. My approach to flower arranging, or rather dis-arranging, best describes my affinity for the anti-perfect. Flowers are most appealing to me when they're holding on for dear life. On that last day, with their fading petals after the bloom, that's when the magic happens."
Magic? At the very least, Taylor seems to live a charmed life. She's been a respected player in L.A.'s art world since opening the contemporary art gallery Taylor de Cordoba eight years ago with her husband, Alex de Cordoba. Earlier this year, the couple closed the gallery to focus on their art consulting business, giving Taylor more time to devote to her growing textile company, Heather Taylor Home. Known for its neutral table linens with vibrant embroidery and textures, the line has recently expanded to include striped pillows, hand-woven wall hangings, towels and scarves that are being sold at trendsetting retailers.
Taylor says the line was born out of her love of tradition and a need for something beautiful that was also usable and casual. "When I'm having a dinner party, I don't care if a bottle of wine spills," she says.
But don't be fooled by her embrace of the unforeseen — her life is also informed by hard work and planning.
Taylor, 34, has been knitting and weaving since her 20s ("I love weaving because you have to focus and use both of your hands," she says). She enjoys entertaining, but she couldn't find linens that were both sophisticated and modern. Her aha moment occurred while sitting jet-lagged on a terrace in Greece. "I was having an amazing breakfast of yogurt and fruit served on a white crocheted tablecloth against that bright blue water," she says. "I became obsessed with the simplicity of that tablecloth, so easy and lovely, and I've been chasing that feeling ever since."
Taylor's undyed linens are at home with formal china or everyday earthenware and reflect her relaxed ethos about living, entertaining and dressing. On a recent day she wore a vintage Diane Freis dress accessorized with a rose from her garden tucked into her dark hair.
Garden flowers are just one of her inspirations. A wild shock of fuchsia bougainvillea climbs a trellis next to the yellow Dutch door leading to Taylor's design atelier at her West Hollywood home. Inside the studio, a hippie-chic vibe plays out with spools of colorful yarn, woven baskets and hand-painted ceramics collected on her travels in Mexico. One wall is adorned with an inspiration board pinned with everything from neon pompoms and colorful textiles to a favorite photograph of Taylor with close friend and handbag designer Clare Vivier.
(Although the Heather Taylor line is designed in Los Angeles, the manufacturing takes place in Chiapas, Mexico, where linens and pillows are hand-woven on floor and back-strap looms. The region and its indigenous textiles have inspired many of her designs such as the Turmeric Diamond embroidered cocktail napkins or the violet and indigo God's Eye pattern on a linen table runner.)
Taylor also finds inspiration in her tight-knit community of close friends, a group of successful, like-minded business owners and artisans that includes Vivier, shoe designer Beatrice Valenzuela and photographer Jeana Sohn. "I'm constantly inspired by my girl group," Taylor says. "In L.A., there's this incredibly supportive community of women entrepreneurs who build each other up. Women who share a vision, but not a myopic one. They like to knit or cook, to live a balanced life. It feels very L.A. to me."