Recently I had the privilege to answer some questions from interior designer Christine Martin of The Good Abode. Christine specializes in online interior design, so no matter where in the world you're located, she can help you figure out the best solutions for your space and provide valuable insight and suggestions! Head over to her site to find out what e-design is all about, and keep scrolling to read our interview!
If you want to know what vintage decor love is all about, just sit with Iylana Nassiri of Indigo Trade. This online shop caught my IG attention and before long, a kinship began. From one entrepreneur to another, we align in all that is travel, value of culture, and a joy for intentional global design. Read about Iylana's style and perspective on the importance of vintage decor. It won't take long for you to want to follow her journey.
What inspired your vintage decor love?
Like many others in this business, my vintage decor love was inspired at an early age by my mom and grandma who shared their knowledge and love of antiques with me. I grew up buying secondhand and wearing hand-me-downs out of necessity, not for fun. But, sometimes if my mom found a piece of beautiful crystal at a garage sale...boy, we felt fancy bringing it home to decorate the piano! I was taught how to distinguish treasure from trash, paintings from prints, well-made wooden furniture from pressboard. And I quickly learned that the older items were usually better quality, longer lasting, and therefore more valuable. It didn’t take long before my eye could pick out “old” at a glance, within seconds of walking into a thrift store.
My mom and grandma valued porcelain china, so tastes have definitely changed since those years! But it was from them that I learned the basics of antique hunting and collecting. I spent my teen years crafting clothing and purses out of thrift store buys, and when it came time to decorate my own apartment, I realized I could resell pieces I wasn’t in love with in order to finance buying things I truly loved. And so with the rise of internet marketplaces, I finally opened my first online store in 2007.
How do you curate your shop? What design elements do you look for?
When I’m considering buying something for my shop, I ask one question: Would I have this item in my home? In order to truly curate a branded collection, I have had to start leaving a lot behind! Sometimes I know a piece is valuable, but if it doesn’t look good with everything else I have in the shop, I simply don’t buy it in order to keep the collection cohesive. When I find vintage decor pieces from totally different sources and bring them together in one room and they look like they’ve lived together forever, that’s how I know I have curated well!
In general, I’m more likely to gather hand carved wood, etched brass, and a muted color palette. There are always exceptions to the rule, though, like when I brought in a bright yellow sofa in the shape of a pair of hands! Though it didn’t fit my typical style, I could still imagine that piece in an Italian apartment with marble accents and thick crown molding. The mixing of styles that once would have been at odds definitely has a place in today’s interior design.
How often do you travel for your pieces? What’s the most interesting place or places you discovered a gem?
I have never traveled specifically on a buying trip, believe it or not! I am a life-long traveler, so I’m just always going somewhere. A few times it has just so happened that I came across something perfect for the shop. Of course, I knew that going to India I would likely find some incredible vintage decor pieces, and I did. One day in Jodhpur, I ended up cancelling other plans in order to spend the day getting floor cushions made out of some embroidered fabric. It all happened on-the-fly when I said I liked a piece of fabric, and before I knew it loads of embroidered fabric was being showcased to me.
I asked if they could make it into a cushion and they said, “give me 5 minutes” and it came back truly 5 minutes later, as a cushion. As they say, “Anything can happen in India!”
What is your personal design style? What’s your favorite room in your home?
My journey so far has been learning to let go of a lot of styles I’ve realized are NOT for me personally. For example, at one time I might have thought my house would be 100% mid-century modern, but as I lived with different pieces, I realized I wasn’t into the space age or the kitsch, but I was into the clean line furniture.
When I married, we started collecting more Persian items for our home, and a perfect style came together that was minimal, warm, and mixed the ancient arts of the Middle East with modern European furniture (okay, actually a lot of IKEA haha).
My favorite room was our small living room, which didn’t have a lot of space for anything but the sofa. I still managed to gather some of my favorite pieces there, like the large Indian horse painting hanging opposite the TV. It felt like the kind of place where I wanted to spend a lot of time!
Share a story of a piece you sourced that was fascinating to you?
When I picked up this vintage piece of art from an estate, to be honest, I didn’t know what or who it was. But the owner of the estate was a very well educated, well traveled, confident woman who I wished I could have hung out with! Everything in her home exuded a wealth of history and a deep South American heritage.
In certain homes, I feel that the energy of the previous owner still lives with the items collected over their lifetime, and I just know the pieces will be divinely directed into their perfect new life. I found out that this art contains the entire text of the of the novella, "El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba", with the words arranged to feature the likeness of the author, Gabriel García Márquez. It was printed by a Colombian bookstore in the 1980s. Something like that is a piece of art that has a meaning much deeper than its appearance, and I know it meant a lot to the previous owner. I relished the fact that I got to introduce it to its new home.
Why is it important to decorate with global decor pieces?
When Notre Dame was on fire in 2019, a lot of Westerners were rightly upset that a monument like that could potentially be destroyed. Others rightly pointed out that the world didn’t seem to care that the monuments of Iraq were being lost daily to war.
The difference, I realized, is that many Westerners had visited Notre Dame before, or at least had an idea of what kind of place Paris is—dreamy and romantic. We have been taught that. From watching Audrey Hepburn on TV to eating crepes and croissants to seeing prints of the Eiffel Tower from Hobby Lobby in literally every one of your friends’ bathrooms growing up. All of those things influenced us as young girls to believe that Paris is a romantic place where you can be swept off your feet and feel more beautiful than you’ve ever felt. That’s why every girl wants to go to Paris on her honeymoon!
The reason Westerners don’t care about the monuments of Iraq is… they don’t know Iraq. They’ve never had Iraqi food. All they’ve seen on TV is news images of war and destruction, certainly nothing fun like Audrey Hepburn. No one they know has ever been to Iraq or can even point it out on a map. Many Westerners have been taught to be scared at the sound of someone speaking Arabic.
Any and every way that we can introduce each other to cultures different from our own, helps to bring the world closer together. Whether it’s food you’ve never tried before, holiday celebrations you’ve never heard of, music in a language other than your own, or even a piece of decor that you know nothing about—once you learn about it, it suddenly becomes way less intimidating.
And when a friend comes over and sees it in your home and says “Huh, I’ve never seen that at Target”, then you have an opportunity. You can share: “That tapestry came from Peru, it’s made of llama wool, feel how soft it is!” And you can talk about it and suddenly they have a little more appreciation and admiration for Peru than they did a few moments before. Maybe they’ll notice a Peruvian restaurant that they never noticed before and suddenly they’re in love with Chifa cuisine and become friends with the owners, and now, they’ll care a whole lot more about the Amazon eco system, because they have started to feel like they know Peru. And if you have kids, and from a young age you can teach them to embrace things from other places, then they’ll never feel like it was different to begin with.
Because every newly manufactured item uses resources. New books and furniture require forests to be cleared, plastic products require oil, metal in cell phones and jewelry is scraped out of the earth.
Now more than ever, it is so important for us to stop, when we need to make a purchase, and ask, “Is it possible that I could look for a secondhand item so I’m buying something that’s already out there? So I’m not responsible for increasing the demand of new products to be made?”
It is a new habit that we have to teach ourselves because none of us were really taught this. Just like any habit, it takes time to incorporate it into our lives, so I would encourage people to not get discouraged if you can’t change your habits overnight! It doesn’t happen overnight— it happens one decision at a time.
I really enjoyed this chat with Christine from The Good Abode! You can follow her on instagram @thegoodabode