Several weeks ago, my friend Beatrice introduced me to Rachel Craven, the Echo Park-based textile designer who recently debuted a new line of tabletop goods at Heath Ceramics. I instantly felt warmth towards Rachel when I realized that a crazy coincidence connected us. Back in October, my husband Alex was hit by a car while riding his bike. Through some detective work, I discovered that Rachel’s husband Jonathan was one of the first people on the scene of the accident and waited with an unconscious Alex for the ambulance to arrive. Connecting with Jonathan was one cozy element of an extremely harrowing experience.
Fast forward three months. My Alex is fully recovered and I get an email from Bea saying I need to check out Rachel Craven’s new line. Takes me about half a second to say YES, would love to meet her and talk linens. So this is how I found myself in a beautiful house, talking with this lovely girl about LA v. New York, art, entertaining, family and of course, textiles. It was pouring rain, we drank green tea and the scent of jasmine wafted through the air as I admired her block printed, hand sewn linen pieces. Here is more from Mrs. Craven, in her own words…
Heather Taylor: How long have you lived in LA and in what neighborhood do you live in?
Rachel Craven: I’ve lived in Los Angeles for ten years. Wow, it’s been that long! I now live in Angelino Heights (known for its Victorian era houses) which is a subsection of Echo Park.
HT: What inspired you to start your line?
RC: I’ve always loved fabric and textiles – I’ve collected them my whole life. I have also always painted and been obsessed with interiors. My textiles are a natural outgrowth of marrying these interests with a lifelong fascination with geometric pattern and design.
HT: Do you entertain often?
RC: I love entertaining and cooking for people is one of my greatest joys. Both of my parents are amazing cooks and eating great food with people I adore is a part of who I am. Our life of entertaining in the evenings had slowed for a few years, becoming more about daytime brunches and picnics as I put the focus on what was best for my two young children. However, now that they’re both in school, I’ve found more time to host dinner parties and evening gatherings. Yay!
HT: What are the key components of a well-set table?
RC: For me, a well-set table combines elements that are organic, cozy, and elegant. The elegance often comes from a vintage silver place setting or a piece of my grandmother’s china. Flowers are an important component of my table – they add an organic glamor that little else can. These things, combined with simple linens are my basic ingredients for a lovely table.
RC: 6am – check my emails, make lunches and get the kids to school. Then I head downtown to source fabric and threads. Then I usually make a stop at the flower market downtown on the way home (one of my favorite parts of the day). Then I sew and print from my home studio, often pausing to find inspiration in an array of battered art books my family gave me in art school, many of them out of print or hard to find. I grab a blue corn quesadilla from Alejandra’s cart on Echo Park Avenue. Then back to printing before the kids come home and we head to Elysian park to hike and play ninjas. I usually make kid dinner and the rest of my evening is spent at the computer or with friends.
HT: What are your favorite neighborhood haunts?
RC: Echo park farmer’s market (friday afternoons). cookbook grocery. tacos al tacor #6. fix coffee. elysian park playground. elf restaurant. tavin clothing. flounce vintage. dekor. Bea’s house, and my garden.
HT: Do you have any new products in the works as part of your line?
RC: I’m really working on a beach blanket for summer. I love going to the beach for the entire day (ideally the weekend) and bringing a homemade delicious picnic – this requires an appropriate and lovely portable home base. Thus my desire to make a chic beach blanket!