By Megan Murray
A fashion and homeware designer with an eponymous flagship boutique in Miami, Carolina Kleinman's collections celebrate her Argentinian heritage, passion for travel, and the artisanal methods of communities in South America.
After exploring Mexico and South America in the early 2000s, Kleinman became fascinated by the traditional crafting techniques used by the people there. Growing up in Buenos Aires, her family's work in the textiles industry had sparked an interest in design, but it was a desire to support female communities that led to the realisation of her own brand.
'When I was travelling, I'd wander through markets and see the quality and talent behind beautiful products,' says Kleinman. 'I'd reach out to the person who had made them and create a personal connection, learn about their craft, and think about how I could work with them to encourage financial independence.'
Nearly 20 years later, Kleinman still frequently visits rural areas to spend time with the women who craft her products, ensuring that an appreciation for multiculturalism continues to be the lifeblood of the brand.
As well as Kleinman's work embodying her passions, so has her home, which is a living reflection of her experiences. 'I love finding something unique that only locals know about,' she says. 'For me, the most important part about selecting something for my home is the story behind it. It's the where, how, and who made it.'
When moving into her Florida home three years ago, Kleinman adopted a storytelling approach to interior design. Here, she shares the tales behind some of her favourite homeware pieces.
How do you design your space?
'My home was built in 2011 and features mid-century-inspired architecture, which works well with my eclectic taste.
'My decor has developed organically. I buy as I go; I can't rush the process and shop for everything at once, otherwise the space looks staged. I pick things up as I visit other countries, especially from markets and antique stores. This gives my home a multi-layered look with objects from around the world. The most important thing, though, is that everything holds a memory.'
What do you need from a living area?
'Lighting is an important component as it sets the mood. I have a no shoes policy in my home, so a comfortable rug is also a necessity. I love to invite friends over and so I need a big couch that everyone can sit on, too.
'I am musical and I like to incorporate this into my space. We always put a piano in our home, as both me and my son play. It looks chic styled with a few lamps and a painting hanging above it. I've even created a section for all of my instruments, so that when musicians come over we can jam together.'
Why is it important to you that your home is a reflection of your experiences?
'It's like bringing a part of a magical trip back with you. For me, this is what makes my home unique and meaningful. My surroundings are a reflection of the stories I have lived and the places I've been to. It's incredibly special to look around and be reminded of the adventures you've had.'
Tell us the stories behind your favourite homeware.
'I love the round large ottoman from our Carolina K home collection. It's practical as a centrepiece and has been handmade by a group of artisans in Puebla, Mexico, who we've worked with for the past 10 years.
'My mid-century sofa is a big part of my living space - I just happened to find it in an antique shop while on a road trip in Palm Beach. I'm so glad that I did, because not only is it very comfortable, but it also has a unique edge.
'Another prominent design presence in my space is a set of monochrome, African chairs that are completely hand-beaded. It's really difficult to find this design anymore, but I discovered these in an antique shop.
'Finally, I have a large art piece with a carved gold-leaf frame that I brought from Cusco, Peru. I lived there in 2011, and when visiting years later I felt inspired to bring something back as a reminder of the magical moments I'd shared there. It was painted by a local artist and depicts a mother holding her child, which I felt represented my family.'
What excites you about expanding your own homeware collection?
'I'm in love with designing homeware, and passionate about the techniques we use and the people we work with. The new line of tableware is made from high-quality porcelain and is hand-painted in Colombia, passing through 25 hands to be made.
'My signature ottomans and yoga pillows can take up to a month to make and are handcrafted in Mexico by a community of artisans who we've been supporting for many years. This is something I'm really proud of. I also love that our fringed wool rugs are created by artisans in Guatemala that I met on a trip I organised with a group of renowned designers in 2019.'