Modern Family

Conceptual artist Julia Kim Smith raises a family in minimalist splendor.

By Jane Marion - June 2014

Nest: Julia Kim Smith

Conceptual artist Julia Kim Smith raises a family in minimalist splendor.

By Jane Marion - June 2014

-Photo by Vince Lupo

Web search: We’ve been here 15 years. My father-in-law found this house on the Web, and I think it’s unusual enough that people weren’t bidding on it. 

Art with a purpose: I started off in design and had my own greeting-card line at high-end stores, but I wanted to follow my own vision. I am an Asian-American woman and didn’t feel like my voice was really out there. My studio is in my home. 

It takes a village: This house, by architect Mahendra Parekh, was built on the principles of Hindu Temple architecture. The idea is big, open public spaces with large windows on the south side, and smaller windows and more private spaces on the north side. The idea is that a house is like a miniature village.

Shoptalk: A lot of what’s here is from Design Within Reach and Home on the Harbor and, occasionally, Ikea. I take Ikea stuff and rework it. The black sofas are by Bensen and were purchased at Full Upright Position.

Have a seat: We think the chairs are early Eames. They’re from my husband’s grandfather’s veterinary office.

Having a ball: The inspiration for the silver Chiasso balls, which were sourced by stylist Umbreen Khalidi, is the beaded screen by the late Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s “Untitled (Water)” in the BMA’s Contemporary Wing. I love the way they’re tactile. 

Seeing things: There are more things in here than I would like, but when my daughter, Lizzie, was little, she said, “I went to a friend’s house and they have all these knick-knacks. Why don’t we have any?” So I tried to acquire things with meaning.


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