Michelle Obama wore a Cathy Waterman necklace on Inauguration Day last January. Gwyneth Paltrow accessorized with a cuff by the designer the night she accepted an Academy Award for her role in Shakespeare in Love, and leading actresses like Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts have chosen jewels by the Santa Monica-based artist for the red carpet. Clearly there’s something meaningful behind each of her pieces, so it comes as no surprise to us when we spoke to Waterman about her first home collection that her creative process is nothing less than thoughtful.
This month, the nature-loving designer launched home goods at Barneys—an artistic collection of tabletop pieces made from materials like porcelain, silver and fallen wood. Read on to find out why Waterman’s inspiration ranges from lettuce to fairy tales, and what to talk about if you ever find yourself next to her at the dinner table.
On launching a home line:
“After years of saying no to sunglass and perfume inquiries, it seemed right to hand-make some special objects that witness a life in the same way a wedding or engagement ring does. Also, I love a beautiful object and wanted to fill my own home with pieces that I love to look at.”
On nature as inspiration:
“I’m mostly inspired by the beauty and ferocity of nature, which, living in Southern California by the sea, surrounds me. As I started to draw the flatware, it was clear that it was inspired by my jewelry, which is full of references to both fairy tales and nature. I continually see a migration of ideas from one to the other (the jewelry to the tabletop collection), and that is what excites me most.”
On determining which pieces to create:
“I’m a pretty intuitive person and not much of a planner, so I followed my instincts. I love sterling flatware, and using it everyday makes me smile. The porcelain, which is made in Limoges, France by Bernardaud, is the happiest color. The glow that a hand-dipped candle reflects on the faces at a dinner table is unparalleled for its ability to make everyone look beautiful, so of course sterling candlesticks—inspired by a tree trunk—would be a part of the collection. I am a vegan and a farmer, and the salad bowl seems to have flowed from something my family laughs at: my serious love of lettuce! It all makes sense, at least in my mind.”
On her own home:
“My home is pretty eclectic, a mix of modern and vintage, a lot of textures and colors. I live near the sea, and my house is made up of mostly windows and few have any coverings. I always want to see the outside world, and I have made the transition pretty seamless.”
On her table talk of choice:
“I love talking about books and travel. If I’m not working or drawing or gardening or cooking, I am reading and I love a novel (and a long one is best), and it fascinates me to learn what other people are reading. It’s very revealing. [I’m also] always traveling; [it] inspires me, and I enjoy hearing about travels that inspire others.”
Prices start at $1,320 (for a six-piece porcelain place setting). The collection is available at Barneys New York, 212-826-8900, and Beverly Hills, 310-276-4400.