For California-based designer Kristine Renee of Design Alchemy, travel is quite literally a job requirement, serving as an essential springboard for generating new ideas and refining her aesthetic. Exploring global destinations with a designer’s eye, Kristine hones in on surprising palettes, eye-catching details, and fresh concepts that spark innovation.
“Travel has always been a huge part of my life,” says Kristine, “it’s what I live and breathe.” Working with her mother and business partner, Deborah Costa, Kristine continually refines Design Alchemy’s aesthetic by incorporating style trends and design details picked up from new destinations and cultures. What’s more, the duo has also been able to source one-of-a-kind furniture and accessories from local artisans and makers they’ve built close relationships with along the way.
A Passion For Details
Kristine also loves to cultivate relationships with brands that share her passion for seeking inspiration. “It’s all about the story behind the brand and personal relationships formed,” she says. “We partner with brands that push design boundaries to create fresh product while incorporating sustainable practices.” Jaipur Living, notes Kristine, is among these brands. “Details fuel creativity,” she says. “And Jaipur Living is a go-to source for us—their refined colorways, patterns and designer rug collections really speak to our aesthetic and brand story.” Her mission is the same as ours: combine these details into visually stunning spaces that tell a story of beauty, comfort and human connection. Among her favorite places for inspiration is Atlanta, where Jaipur Living is headquartered. “To me, Atlanta feels like the new Austin,” Kristine says, noting in particular the city’s foodie scene and historical architecture.
“I look for the tiny moments that…carry the environment.”
“I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to translate a one-of-a-kind experience into residential moments for my clients,” Kristine says. Vintage Moroccan tiles, a hotel’s curated in-room barware, a waiter’s bespoke pocket square—everything inspires her. “My clients want that special feeling in their own homes,” Kristine says. “So I look for the tiny moments that really carry the environment.” A vintage sari silk pillow, a Jaipur rug that evokes the opulence of a Moroccan souk—most elements of Kristine’s style come from the cities she has visited and loved.
Hotel lobbies also serve as Kristine’s muse. From layout and lighting to furniture and textiles, a smartly designed lobby serves as a communal gathering spot that welcomes every guest. “I’m intrigued by the concept of creating a little pocket of space for people and how to integrate artful charm with effective function,” she says.
A Sense of Place
Memorable experiences are shaped not only by the destination, Kristine notes, but also by the stories of each place. After all, design influences how people relate to each other within a given space. Relaxing in an Austin boutique hotel, antiquing in Parisian vintage markets, gallery-hopping in Atlanta or embarking on off-the-beaten-path adventures in Bali are all valuable opportunities for her to see how people interact with their surroundings.
Travel also allows Kristine to think outside the box. For instance, the South Congress Hotel lobby in Austin was an “ah-ha” moment for one of her projects. “The vibe was so comfy, and then it hit me—why have separate formal dining and living rooms when they don’t work for the way you live?” Freshly inspired, Kristine completely reimagined her client’s space, using oversized chairs, ottomans that doubled as tables and lush textiles to create a blended living/dining space—the perfect marriage of elevated style and real-world function.