Los Angeles-based interior designer Nina Freudenberger documents how the cultured and the creative co-habitate with their books
Words by MELISSA GOLDSTEIN
“I love the journey of looking inside peoples’ homes,” says interior designer and author Nina Freudenberger. “I call it design anthropology.” That voyeuristic instinct led her to distant places — a convent in Puglia, Italy; a midcentury modern apartment in Berlin; a poured concrete house in Mexico City — and back for her latest title, Bibliostyle: How We Live at Home With Books (Clarkson Potter, $35).
With photographer Shade Degges and writer Sadie Stein, Freudenberger captures the personal spaces of authors (Karl Ove Knausgård, Jonathan Safran Foer), creatives (artist Vik Muniz, former French Vogue editor Irene Silvagni), interior and fashion designers (Commune’s Roman Alonso, Phillip Lim) and others through the lens of their private libraries. “Book collections tell so much about the person ,” she says. “It’s an interesting way to access a home.”
Freudenberger credits the process of creating her first book — the 2017 bestseller Surf Shack: Laid-Back Living by the Water — with reigniting her creative spark. A few years after moving to L.A. from New York in 2013, the RISD alum decided to take a break from Pinterest-sourced reference images and look at her industry from a new angle.
“Book collections tell so much about the person”
Since then, her family (husband, film producer Mike Larocca, and their two sons, Wolf, 3, and Julian, 1) has nabbed its own slice of surf culture: a double-wide trailer in Point Dume, Malibu, where she mixed Ikea pieces with high-end custom finishes for unfussy, sand-adjacent Scandinavian results. Freudenberger is also in the process of furnishing their Hancock Park home with a mix of elevated neutrals, spanning a 1940s French armoire, Apparatus and Allied Maker lighting, and vintage Rainer Daumiller dining chairs.
Inspiration freshly stoked, she recently launched a made-to-order furniture line, including a pair of dining tables whose hard-wearing craftsmanship recalls those she has admired in her native Germany, mixed with a very West Coast point of view. “It’s based on California design and flexibility and child-friendliness,” she says. “Everything has a curved corner.” Forthcoming projects include the residence of an A-list actor-director and two boutique hotels — both set in Central California and slated to open in summer 2020.
Feature image: JORDANA MUNK MARTIN’s Brooklyn library, highlighted in the book.
Nina Freudenberger portrait by Jessica Alexander. All other images copyright © 2019 by Shade Degges, reprinted with permission from Bibliostyle: How We Live at Home With Books, by Nina Freudenberger, copyright © 2019, published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.
This story originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of C Magazine.
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