Photos by Emily Johnston
Liz Gardner's home that doubles as her studio/office.
North Loop resident Liz Gardner, a freelance creative director and former design director for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, is featured in a new book, Sage Living: Decorate for the Life You Want. We sat down with our resident stylemaker (Liz is a contributing art director to this magazine) to find out how she blends work and home life in the sun-filled loft she shares with Josef Harris and their adorable (and not at all spoiled) 1-year-old Siberian husky named Agnes.
Where do you live? The building is called The Gurley Lofts, and according to management, it opened in the 1920s as the Gurley Candy Factory. In the ’50s, Fannie Farmer moved its production to this building.
You and Josef created the branding firm Bodega Ltd. Tell us about that. Our focus is creative direction (me) and strategy/social media (Josef) and where those disciplines overlap. A typical day can include branding design, photo shoot direction, social media strategy and execution, brand consulting, holistic marketing, and a really cute dog!
What’s the key to making your home life and your business coexist in this space? Flexibility and a lot of good storage options! We have a large table that consists of three IKEA trestles and a table top that tends to be the main work area. But because it’s modular, it can become a larger dinner table for hosting parties. Or just a large community work table. We reconfigure our space all of the time based on what types of projects we’re working on and how antsy I am to redecorate. We create sitting areas with our modular apartment sofa from CB2 and a vintage Bertoia chair that are intended for entertaining and lounging. But really, we spend a lot of time e-mailing on the couch in the sunshine with Aggie cuddled nearby.
Describe your design style. I am Scandinavian, so I can’t deny my love of good, timeless pieces. That said, I don’t fully subscribe to minimalist ideals. I love a solid foundation of white Bertoia chairs, a clean-lined gray sofa, or Muuto stools as a canvas to add fun and interesting accents, like the infamous Gravel & Gold boob pillowcase or our vintage goose lamp.
You and Josef travel often for work and play. What kind of things catch your eye when you’re on the road? Magazines. We buy them everywhere we go, but especially when we travel. We read them and stacks of them double as side tables around our space. I also love vintage silver and tableware. It’s a “thing” I have.
You are also both highly visual people. How did you marry your styles at home? Our design choices really reflect how we work and interact together. I am quieter and slightly more minimal. Josef is larger than life and likes to be provocative. In our space, that comes through with his “decorative” Best Made Co. axe (that he also has been known to wear as a fashion accessory) paired with my stack of white design books. Another example of the mashup is his 3 1/2-by-5 foot charcoal drawing of hands from his high school art class paired with my collection of white ceramics and plants. That contrast has become an earmark of our work and our space.
Who are your design inspirations? Coming from a magazine and design background, I’ve always loved good interior stylists like Lotta Agaton [based in Stockholm] and [Scandinavian design blogger and stylist] Emma Fexeus as inspiration. Locally, [designer] Nadia Haddad is pretty amazing—I love her style!
You also love books. What are a few of your design faves? Colorful by Lotta Agaton, Dieter Rams: As Little Design As Possible by Sophie Lovell, The Selby is in Your Place by Todd Selby, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel by Lisa Vreeland, and Opening Ceremony by Carol Lim and Humberto Leon.
You have a robust following on Instagram (more than 11,000 at presstime). Who do you follow for design inspiration? I am really inspired by travel feeds. It’s fun to see new color combos and decorating styles in their natural habitat. My friend, photographer Grant Legan (@grantlegan), was just in Cuba, and I was freaking out over his feed. Photographer Justin Chung (@justin chung), of Faculty Department, has a beautiful Instagram. For the bolder side of inspiration, I like @streetetiquette and filmmaker Andrea Sisson (@andreasisson) for her unique take on places like Iceland.
Get local: Liz’s favorite TC spots
Home/lifestyle shops: Forage Modern Workshop for Scandinavian and modern pieces like Muuto and Aelfie rugs. The Foundry Home Goods for white ceramic and brass pieces, plus Japanese towels. Restaurants: The Bachelor Farmer—upstairs at the bar for martinis with the groaning board. Also, Corner Table. Shop design: The custom wallpaper by Fruit Party Painting Company at Arrow. And the pink wall and exposed shelving at Mille.
Check out Liz’s feature in the book Sage Living: Decorate for the Life You Want, by Anne Sage, photographs by Emily Johnston (Chronicle Books, 2015). $30