Design 5 Swoon Worthy Things:

Alice Gao

Coffee and snack breaks, styled just-so in Seoul. Behind-the-scenes shots from designer collabs. Picnics in Central Park. NYC-based photographer and blogger Alice Gao continually inspires us, not to mention the rest of her 983 thousand Instagram followers, with dramatic, modern fairy-tale-like snapshots from around the world. So where does the creative force go to glean inspiration of her own? We caught up with Alice (who photographed Athena in her Dumbo home for Refinery29 in 2013) to find out just that, along with the five items she’s currently coveting for her home. Take a look below, and while you’re at it, hop on over to her Instagram feed — and get ready to say “take me there immediately”.

By Natalie Goel

Alice Gao

NAME: Alice Gao

PROFESSION: Photographer


ENDLESSLY OBSESSED WITH: Harsh sunlight and defined shadows.

YOUR AESTHETIC IN 3 WORDS: Modern, considered, soulful.

DESIGN PHILOSOPHY: I like to think about the relationships between items in a space; they have to have the right balance and items should interact the right way. And if a piece is neither beautiful nor functional, get rid of it.


Alice Gao

BRIEFLY, HOW YOU CAME TO DO WHAT YOU DO: Quit my consulting job to pursue full-time photography about 5 years ago.

WHAT YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB: The endless challenges and endless things to be inspired by.

DESIGN TREND YOU LOVE? Marble all day, every day.

ONE YOU WISH WOULD GO AWAY? This isn’t a trend per se, but I think items should be true to their material. I don’t want plastic that looks like tortoiseshell for instance, or laminate that tries to look like wood.

Alice Gao
Alice Gao

COLOR OR NEUTRAL? Neutral but green is ok


HOW AND WHERE YOU SHOP: I like to shop when I’m traveling, for art books and ceramics. In NY, I buy most of my home goods from ABC Home, Still House, and The Apartment by The Line. I window shop the most on 1stdibs.

DO YOU HAVE ANY DESIGN ICONS? Mies van der Rohe, Carl Auböck, Eero Saarinen just to name a few.


Alice Gao
  1. Lilith Rockett Fig Vase: “I love the delicate and smooth feel of Lilith Rockett’s ceramics. I own one vase but really love the shape of this fig one. Her candlestick holders are beautiful as well.”

  2. Massimo Vitali Cagliari Blue Rectangle2002“The mood in Massimo Vitali’s beach photos always makes me feel really calm and happy. I love the muted colors in this print.”

  3. Carl Auböck Large Paperclip – Nickel: “The best way to hold down that coffee table book to your favorite page.”

  4. Ladies & Gentlemen Studio Perimeter Tray Gold and White: “I’ve been eyeing this tray for years now, and don’t know why I haven’t treated myself to it yet. I love the combination of materials, and it would make great serving tray for tea and snacks!”

  5. Finn Juhl Model FD 136 Teak Lounge Chair: “I know this particular one is sold, but someday I hope to own a Finn Juhl lounge chair, and this green is just perfect (and original!).”

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