Stepping into a vacant storefront in Manhattan last fall, Anna Karlin saw pure potential. Forget that the Chinatown space had fire damage, bad plumbing, and no proper electricity; she zeroed in on what it could become. “I’ve learned to trust my instincts,” the English-born designer reflects just six months later as she puts the finishing touches on her tailor-made new studio and showroom.
It was impulse, after all, that drove Karlin to quit her first job, at a big-time London design firm in 2006, just two days in; impulse that, four years later, nudged her across the Atlantic to Manhattan to set up her own art-direction firm; and impulse that prodded her to create a line of furniture in 2012. Each risk produced reward: Her art-direction business has landed clients like Adidas, Lululemon, and Fendi. And her product line – which started with sleek glassware, a hoop-shaped light, and some chess-piece stools – has captivated the design world. Soon her starter studio downtown was bursting at the seams.
A spear light hangs above a steel dining table and stools in the showroom.