Q&A with Designer Kara Mann
With an eye for fashion and a desire to push the boundaries, designer Kara Mann crafts edgy yet elegant interiors that reimagine the possibilities of mixing modern and traditional styles. Her new collection for Milling Road offers striking forms and rich materials, from liquid lacquer and Italian leather to bleached burl wood to breccia marble, for a look that's both of-the-moment and enduring.
A recognized stylemaker based in New York and Chicago, Kara merged her background in fashion, art and design to create a unique and distinctive aesthetic, appearing in Architectural Digest, The New York Times, Traditional Home and House Beautiful, among others.
We caught up with Kara to gain some insight into the mind of an up-and-coming stylemaker.
If you had to describe the look and feel of your new collection, what words would you use?
Architectural, purposeful, quietly impactful, refined. The strength of the collection lies in its versatility. The pieces themselves are hybrids between classical and contemporary, so they complement and elevate both traditional and modern aesthetics. In my opinion, great design is about artfully mixing high and low; having more options at an affordable price point is really important.
How is this collection different from anything you've done before?
This is the first time that I have worked on a full collection from concept to production. I wanted to update traditional materials by imbuing them with a sense of edginess - bleached burl wood and blackened walnut, for example. The result is a monochromatic mix that still feels warm. Simplicity and craftsmanship are always extremely important to me.
The design world has grown tremendously over the last few decades - what makes your collection stand out?
It's the little unexpected details, like the beaded brass detail in the handle of the metal-framed étagère. Or the meticulous detail of the chinoiserie on the Minimum side table and Edge cocktail table. When we started the dream phase, we actually dug into the Baker archives to draw from when sketching that pattern. I simply reinterpreted it for a more modern application.
Finally, do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
I would say the Cane dining chair. We used an ebonized walnut with black caning, so it's durable and classic, but with beautiful modern lines. You can use it as a dining chair or a desk chair, but it's also unique enough to stand alone as an accent piece.