Emma Gardner Design

Born with a strong desire to thrive in a world of art and design, Emma Gardner decided to step away from her magazine editing career and become an entrepreneur, risking it all to follow her dreams. 

Based in Petaluma, CA, chief designer Emma Gardner launched Emma Gardner Design in 2002 creating beautiful artisanal rugs designed to accent homes and offices. Her love of design is demonstrated through her carefully crafted and embellished creations. Gardner produces her rugs by using the age-old Tibetan technique of traditional dying and hand-knotting in Nepalese Mills. All rugs are certified child labor free by Goodweave.

Mood of Living Q&A 

Mood of Living: Before your current occupation you were?
Emma Gardner: Editor-in-Chief of Conde Nast’s health and fitness website, phys.com.

MoL: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
EG: I’d love to continue to design more, and different products; surfaces, hotel carpeting, textiles, inviting new challenges and also spending as much time as possible on my fine art.

MoL: What inspired you to become a designer?
EG: Since earliest childhood, I had a strong inclination toward art and design. I took a circuitous and experimental route to arrive at making a career of that which had always come most naturally and what I was most passionate about. So I think it was a combination of a kind of small flame that was always there, and then, practically, a pressing awareness when I became pregnant with my daughter (now 13) that I had better make my work what I love or the focus and energy to do it would be diffused and I might never get to it.

emma gardner design rug production

MoL: Where did you learn your craft?
EG: Much is self taught but, though I didn’t get an art degree, I have taken lots of classes over the years; in textile design, life drawing, painting, and tonal drawing. I’ve also learned a tremendous amount and honed my skills in the 13 years I’ve been at it. I do other art forms such as paper cutouts, collage, paintings and drawing, and they all inform each other.

MoL: Where do you look for inspiration?
EG: Museum visits, reading, textiles and nature are all regular wells to draw from. But of course inspiration can come from anywhere and at random moments. Professionally however, you can’t always wait for those glittering moments and I’ve learned ways to put my mind in a receptive mode, including getting out into the world and being visually acquisitive. Travel is another invaluable tool for stimulating creativity.

MoL: What was the moment you realized you could really do this?
EG: When 4 of the 5 places in Boston I approached about carrying the line were interested. That was when I only had one small sample and some computer printouts.

MoL: Do you have any hobbies?
EG: Reading, cooking, eating, traveling.

emma gardner rug dying process

  Production at Nepalese Mills.

MoL: What is your favorite quote?
EG: “True aristocracy is in being a nomad. Those who settle lose their lineage.” – Yoruk (Anatolian) proverb. Interpreted figuratively, I love this idea. You keep searching, you stay alive and open.

MoL: Who is an influential figure in your life?
EG: Charlotte Bronte, Betty Smith

MoL: Do you have a style icon?
EG: Not one, but lots of my friends have great style. Though they may be very different the universal quality they possess and project is self-knowledge, self-acceptance and confidence. A winning combo!

MoL: What is the best advice youve ever received?
EG: “The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgement.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

MoL: If you could have a conversation with any living person, who would it be and why?
EG: Stephen Colbert: he’s so funny and so smart, a conversation with him would be highly stimulating, I think, and fun.

emma gardner design

MoL: What is something you know now that you wish you knew before?
EG: That I could freely follow my natural inclinations without dogging myself to keep doing other things first. But since all steps in life make one who one is it’s hard to wish away even the disappointments.

MoL: Words of wisdom
EG: Learn from everything and keep a sense of humor, of lightness.

MoL: Where do you go for peace of mind and spirit?
EG: I meditate in my walk-in closet. It may sound funny but it’s really very cozy and peaceful in there.

MoL: We find that people who make beautiful things are more likely to lead an artistic lifestyle. Do you spend much time creating a beautiful home? Do you entertain?
EG: I love having people over and I try to make my home as beautiful as possible, but I’ve also learned not to fuss too much. The way to make guests feel relaxed and welcome is to do as much as possible in advance so you can be relaxed and present when they’re there.

Emma Gardner Design

MoL: Do you cook? If so, do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share?
EG: I love to cook and do it every day. There are too many to pick a favorite but I made a vegan chocolate cake recently that was delicious. I’m not even vegan but I have the cookbook from a blog I like called Oh She Glows. The frosting contained 2 whole avocados and both my kids loved it.

MoL: What advice can you give anyone interested in starting his or her own business?
EG: Make sure it’s what you really want to do and know that inevitable hard times don’t mean it’s not the right choice.

Social Media

Facebook: Emma Gardner Design | Emma Home

Twitter: Emma Home

Website: Emma Gardner Design | Emma Home

emma gardner rugs

Emma Gardner, Designer