Design 5 Swoon Worthy Things:

Nina Freudenberger Wants Us All to “Take Risks” in Design

Words by Sacha Strebe.

If you looked up the definition of California cool, one name would populate: Nina Freudenberger. The founder and principal designer of Freudenberger Design Studio has been instrumental in shaping the hip LA aesthetic long before it was a buzzword. But that doesn’t mean her design is one-note, in fact, quite the opposite. Freudenberger has an uncanny ability to fuse print and pattern in varied hues that still feel minimal and neutral. Take her best-selling rug collection for Lulu & Georgia. Inspired by the women of the Bauhaus movement, the rugs feature bold, geometric patterns in a muted palette of blues, browns, and mahogany that feels modern and sophisticated. 

When she’s not designing stylish spaces, Freudenberger is traveling the world photographing spaces for her design books. Her previous titles Surf Shack and Bibliostyle were both best-sellers and she’s currently working on her third tome called Mountain Homes. So, you can only imagine our delight when we caught up with the designer recently to learn more about her career, design philosophy, tips, and her top five design pieces she’s loving right now. 

Lulu & Georgia
Lulu & Georgia

NAME: Nina Freudenberger

PROFESSION: Interior Designer/Book Author

HOME BASE: Los Angeles

INSTAGRAM: @ninafreudenberger

WEBSITE: freudenbergerdesign.com

WHAT YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB: I love working with people. I love the time I get to spend with my cool clients, but also all the people that we work with day to day: tradespeople, craftsmen, artists, installers, etc. Design is a team effort, and I am so grateful for the other people I work with that make every day an adventure.

WHAT YOU LIKE LEAST ABOUT YOUR JOB: Honestly, I don’t have anything to complain about! I genuinely love what I do. There are days that are harder than others, and especially with the pandemic, things are delayed and off schedule. But we work through those issues and I find that most people are incredibly kind and gratuitous, we are all working super hard to make some magic happen. 

DESIGN PHILOSOPHY: Make spaces that feel authentic and flexible but take risks. I think it’s so important to be honest about how you live and will live in your space. You don’t want to create spaces that just look beautiful in photos but don’t serve you. It should nourish and cultivate your life.

YOUR AESTHETIC IN 3 WORDS: Modern California/Scandinavian.

WHAT INSPIRES YOUR WORK MOST AND WHY? I am about to answer in the least original way, but… travel. I create these books (Bibliostyle & Surf Shack, and next up, Mountain House!) because not only do I love to see what people are creating on their own and really understand what “home” means, but also because i love exploring the world. Colors, textures, taste, materials, history, it’s all fuel for what I do every day. 

I’M ENDLESSLY OBSESSED WITH____ BECAUSE: Vintage Textiles. You can never have enough. I love to use them to make pillows or tablecloths, but also just to have for that future reupholstery of that side chair. 

DESIGN TREND YOU LOVE? WHY? Basically any design trend. I really try hard to stay away them in general. My hope is that the work I create is timeless and inspirational. 

ONE YOU WISH WOULD GO AWAY? WHY? I think I saw a bit too many Zellige tiles. Between kitchen backsplashes and bathrooms and all of the Pinterest images, it really had a moment, and I absolutely love it in appropriate locations, but it felt so widespread that it actually made them feel so much less special. 

COLOR OR NEUTRAL? EXPLAIN. Definitely neutral. I have a tough time with color, except if it is for a children’s room. I love tonal white/creams. I love browns/dark greens, burnt sienna, olive greens, etc. I know that sounds like a lot of colors but those actually read as quite neutral. 

HOW AND WHERE YOU SHOP: I love Nickey Kehoe, Garde, and Lawson Fenning in LA. And I love Midcentury LA for great vintage chairs, etc. 

WE WILL NEVER SEE _____ IN YOUR HOME (WHY): Lacquer. I just can’t wrap my head around it. It really doesn’t hold up (scratching, etc) and I actually don’t like the reflective quality at all. 

Lulu & Georgia
Lulu & Georgia

Nina's 5 Swoonworthy Things:

I just love the simplicity of material choices here but it is so cool. I love it for an office space.

I love how edgy and modern this lamp is. With natural materials such as wood, etc, this would really sharpen it up and make it high design.

I have always loved this chair. It feels so fresh and cool, you just need one in a corner or in a bathroom.

I collect small stools because i think they are so useful in a home. I love these because i’m always looking for an elevated moment in corner or in front of the fireplace, this is perfect.

I just love the vibe of these chairs—they are the perfect ratio of wood versus upholstery and just look incredible nestled around a table.

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