This DTLA designer’s new book captures her style: ‘Refined hippy’


Designer Erica Tanov is obsessed with ferns.

“There are so many different patterns,” she said recently. “The way they unfurl is so cool. And they are one of the few plants that deer don’t like. We have a lot of deer in our neighborhood.”

In her thoughtful new book “Design by Nature: Creating Layered, Lived-in Spaces Inspired by the Natural World,” (Ten Speed Press, $35), the Berkeley-based clothing and home goods designer, who recently opened a boutique at the Row DTLA, illustrates how she takes that obsession and translates it to her designs — fern wallpaper for instance — and her home.


“Nature is what inspires me the most,” Tanov said. “It relates to so much of what I do. Taking images and ideas from a plant and putting that onto a print or a feeling that I get.”

We recently spoke to Tanov about her new book and her upcoming appearance at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on April 21 to discuss “California Living: Bohemian DIY”

You say this is not a “how-to” book. Why?

“I feel like there are plenty of those out there. I’ve never thought of myself as a teacher in that way. I want to present beauty and what I love and let people take what they want from that.”

What do you hope readers take away from the book?


“Appreciate what’s around you and somehow bring it into your house. Notice the veins on a leaf, or see the remains of a decomposing leaf that looks like lace.”

You even find beauty in decay.

“Decay is a huge one for me. There are so many parts of decay that translate to what I do. Let things be and let them change with time. Take the elements of a crumpled leaf and use that shape to inspire a garment.”

So you are being literal?

“It’s about looking at things simply; about noticing things. A crack in the sidewalk. A fence with moss. Colors. There are so many things that we walk right by and don’t let that beauty into our lives.”


How would you describe your personal style?

“Definitely relaxed. That is how I describe my clothing collection. I prefer antiques to disposable purchases. I don’t like things to be too perfect or symmetrical. When you walk into a home you want it to be generous. But that doesn’t stop you from getting beautiful things. I try not to get too attached to things.”

Did technology influence this book?

“It’s so much a part of everyone’s life. It’s in our face at all times. I want people to slow down and appreciate what’s around them. There is so much information out there. Sometimes all I need is outside. That’s not to say that I’m not on Instagram. I’m relating it to design and interiors. It’s about being mindful and opening your eyes and your heart.”

You will be appearing on the panel “California Living: Bohemian DIY” at the Festival of Books on April 21. What is bohemian style to you?

”Bohemian is so overused. But it resonates and there is truth to it. It means relaxed, free spirited, artistic. It describes my style: refined hippy. It’s about trying to loosen things up a bit while staying refined.”


I like that you encourage people to embrace chaos.

“The weeds chapter is about crazy color and mixing patterns and chaos. Overlap textures and bright colors just like weeds. Our breakfast room is a mess — embrace it. You can make some kind of order out of chaos in some way. Weeds is what does that to me.”

“Design by Nature”

What: Designer Erica Tanov is making two appearances this month: In addition to her appearance at the Festival of Books, Tanov will sign books at her downtown Los Angeles store.

Where: 3:30 p.m. April 21 at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC Campus, and from noon to 4 p.m. April 22 at Erica Tanov at the Row DTLA, 777 S. Alameda St., downtown Los Angeles.

Cost: Free

Info: and


Twitter: @lisaboone19

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