Maker Monday: Emma Gardner Design

Join Andrew Joseph on his journey interviewing some of the industry’s most influential tastemakers on Maker Mondays and Designer Fridays. This week, Andrew sat down and with Rug and Surface Designer, Emma Gardner, and asked a series of questions we hope you don’t find in every other Q&A out there.

Andrew Joseph – What’s your wakeup ritual?
Emma Gardner – An ideal morning is to do about five minutes of stretching. I am wagering that if I do splits every day I’ll be doing them into advanced old age. You don’t just stiffen up in one day, right? Then I try to meditate for 7-10 minutes and write in a journal for 10 minutes. Then get kids off to school, workout and come back to desk fresh and charged up! They are not all ideal but that’s the goal.

Andrew – Vintage or new?
Emma – A mix of both, but mostly new.

Andrew – Secret talent?
Emma – Finding the exact right container by eye when putting food away.

Andrew – Most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Emma – Traveled by myself too far away places. Started a business.

Andrew – A book that everyone should read?
Emma – Grant by Ron Chernow. All Americans, anyway. The history it covers is strikingly relevant to our own times and Grant himself is an underappreciated president and extremely compelling, sympathetic person.

Andrew – You are stuck on an island, you can pick one food to eat forever without getting tired of it, what would you eat?
Emma – Italian food if I can pick a cuisine. After that, Japanese.

Andrew – A dessert you don’t like?
Emma – Cheesecake. Just never have.

Andrew – A skill you’re working on mastering?
Emma – French.

Andrew – Favorite scent?
Emma – Opium. Old fashioned, I know, but I tend to love the perfumes that seemed sexy and exotic to me when I was a young lass.

Andrew – If you could switch lives with someone for a day who would it be?
Emma – A man or a person of color. But really, anyone but myself. I would love to exist in regular life in someone else’s skin, to see how different the world reacts and how different I might feel. It’s impossible to escape your own consciousness, but I’ve always had that fantasy.

Andrew – What are you most excited about at this time in your life?
Emma – I am giddy about the cement tile collection we just launched with Granada Tile. I love when I get to learn a new medium. Designing the mosaic part of the collection, which will come out next year, was even more challenging than the tiles but I love having to be creative within limitations. It’s like writing poetry in a certain meter; the limitations — here, palette, aesthetic charm, size and repeat demands and marketability — forced the kind of focused creativity I really dig. I am excited about all upcoming designs. Once I have gathered a lot of inspiration and reference I enter the next phase, which is turning it all into designs. I’m at one of those points now and that’s always the best.

Andrew – Your affirmation for today?
Emma – ‘Inspiration does exist, but it has to find you working’ – Picasso. I find that one energizing and encouraging all the time. I know it to be true but if I’m having a hard time getting started, or second-guessing the next project or collection, I find that thought very reassuring. You don’t have to know what you’re going to do in advance, but if you can simply start, ideas are almost guaranteed to emerge.

Andrew – What’s one thing that is always in your refrigerator?
Emma – Soy creamer from Trader Joe’s for coffee.

Andrew – Who is a contemporary inspiration in your field?
Emma – Osborne & Little and Maya Romanoff. They’re both always growing and innovating.


About Emma Gardner – Award-winning designer Emma Gardner, chief designer and principal at emma gardner design, has been creating striking and vibrant rugs for consumers, interior designers and architects since 2002. After a successful career as an editor and illustrator, Emma has applied her celebrated sense of color and composition to creating original rugs that are available through showrooms in throughout North American and in Dubai.

Her designs have appeared in leading design and fashion magazines including Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Interior Design, Better Homes & Gardens, Traditional Home, Elle, Glamour, Dwell, Luxe Magazine, House Beautiful, Cover and The New York Times.

Gardner has received Interior Design magazine’s Best of Year, and Merit Awards, IIDEX/Neocon Innovation and Neocon Gold Awards for her rug and fabric designs. Her work adorns some of the best hotels and finest homes in the world in addition to premier healthcare facilities.

A partial list of clients includes: Hirsch Bedner, Rockwell Group, Jeffrey Beers, Bacardi (Bombay Sapphire), Marriott, Hyatt and the Mayo Clinic.

Prior to her career as a designer, Emma Gardner was the Editor-in-Chief of PHYS.COM, Condé Nast’s online Health and Fitness magazine. Before that she served as Managing Editor of Better Health and Producer of the Food Channel for publicly traded iVillage.com. In 1996, she founded, designed and edited her own “e-zine” for young women, Smarty-Pants.

In addition to her own hand-made books, she has created cover art and illustrations for numerous publishers, books and publications including Villard Books, Random House, Scholastic Inc., and The New York Times.

Her early education was at public schools, including New York’s Stuyvesant High School. She earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University and did graduate work at Columbia University in English Literature. Additionally, she studied textile design at F.I.T. and painting and drawing at Cooper Union in New York.

Gardner was born in Kyoto, Japan, and grew up in Park Slope and Connecticut, before moving to New York City at eleven. She currently lives and works in Petaluma, CA with her husband, who is president of the company, their daughter and son.

She has been pursuing more fine art in recent years as well and is preparing for a group show in 2019.


About Andrew Joseph – Andrew Joseph’s passion for design and rich journalistic history led to the launch of his boutique PR firm in 2012. Prior to enjoying the successes of Andrew Joseph PR, Andrew honed his editorial skills at Vanity Fair and Allure. This experience, as well as the strong network of contacts developed over the years in public relations, brings a valuable edge to his new role as contributing editor. Let the musing begin.

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ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is seeker and storyteller of the sublime in living. It is a global guide to in-depth and varied views of beauty and shelter that stirs imagination; that delights and inspires homeowners as well as art and design doyens. Collaborating with emergent and eminent architects, artisans, designers, developers and tastemakers, ASPIRE creates captivating content that savors the subjects and transports with stunning imagery and clever, thought-provoking writing. Through lush and unique visuals and a fresh editorial lens, ASPIRE explores what is new and undiscovered in art, interiors, design, culture, real estate, travel and more. ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is an international narrative and resource for all seeking the sublime.