Awash in airy color and warm textures, Ulla Johnson‘s Brooklyn home is a reflection of her inspiring style.
Few designers have tapped into a precise cultural moment and intuited the way women want to feel like Ulla Johnson. The Brooklyn-based mother of three (Soren, 10, Asher, 6, and Agnes, 3) has created a line of clothing that feels completely current: It’s chic, globally minded (crafted with textiles made by mostly female artisans), and, above all, comfortable, not restrictive in any way. The same could be said for her home. “Women have become disillusioned with fast fashion and our business has exploded because of that,” she says. “I touch every garment that comes through my office. It’s not a mass produced endeavor. I feel the same about furniture.”
ULLA JOHNSON’S SUMMER ESSENTIALS
Ulla Johnson is such an expert traveler that she can make packing for global expeditions with three children under ten look easy, and fill an overnight bag with beach-ready basics in her sleep. Here, Johnson lists her summer weekend essentials.One of our hand- loom ponchos is essential for chilly nights and beach- side walks.
- A macrame bag for market shopping.
- Embellished leather slides for beachdays and evenings out.Flowy gauze and printed cotton frocks for every day.
- An Eres or Lisa Marie Fernandez swimsuit.Shiva Rose Rose-water Spray to cool sun-parched skin.Natura Bisse Vitman C Sunscreen.
- Mustela Hydrabalm for lips and my kids faces.
- Coconut Oil for its natural sunscreen properties.
- Expandable zip bag from REI. It packs into nothing.
Whimsical paper flowers, a generous dose of muted pink, and a basket of furry friends create a warm, woodsy-feeling for her daughter’s bedroom.
ONE OF A KIND
If a garment is one of 10,000 from an assembly line, Johnson isn’t interested. Pieces that “had a life before they were with you” are more intriguing to her, which is a curiosity inherited from her parents, both archaeologists who traveled extensively with Ulla as a child. They lived for short stints in Iran and Germany and spent summers in her mother’s native Yugoslavia, now Serbia and Croatia. “My mom collected Near Eastern textiles, wore leather pants and hung out in SoHo back in the ’80s when it was dodgy,” Johnson says, with clear admiration. Johnson and her husband, Zach Miner, director of contemporary art at Phillips, have a created a contemporary version of that bohemian family life at their brownstone in Fort Greene, a neighborhood that Johnson describes as “verdant.”
Artifacts from around the world and a love of music inform Johnson’s son’s light-filled room.
A marble artwork in calming colors by John Miserendino hangs above the fireplace in the master bedroom.
White paint, neutral textiles, and art by Andrew Mania create a restful scene in the bedroom.
THE ART OF IMPERFECTION
“Zach cares so much about interiors, which could be annoying,” she laughs. “But he likes to take risks and he loves pretty things. We both look at so much that we instantly know what we like. We have a gut reaction. It’s good or it’s not good.” The airy rooms are filled with daring art and layered with rugs and throws and mementos collected from her young family’s own ambitious travels. “We make no concessions for the kids, design-wise,” she says. “We have a dining table that’s quite humble, because I can’t be stressed about markers, but that’s it. I mean, there are always 100 children in our house after school, but we still have a white sofa. I like to say that it’s alive in its imperfections,” she says, with a laugh. “I am a mother and it is messy. That’s just our life as women in this time.”