Meet the Maker: Achillea Design Co
Achillea Design Co believes that a home should be as fun, beautiful, whimsical, humorous, earthy, or as vibrant as the people who live inside. While treasure hunting and making, owner Whitney is constantly inspired by the ever-changing landscape where she lives-- the mountains of Colorado. She’s obsessed with the warmth of natural materials, greenery and sculptural form. Her mountain abode with wood-beamed ceilings, large glass windows, and a crackling fire in the stone fireplace informs her designs and curated objects.
Q: Where did you grow up?
Whitney: I spent most of my youth growing up around the waving wheat in Topeka, Kansas. Our family vacations were spent cruising down I-70 to beautiful Colorado, exploiting the state’s hiking trails and ski slopes. I was instantly hooked and dreamed of living in this beautiful state ever since. I moved around quite a bit in my 20’s (Kansas City, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Paris and traveled to Italy regularly for work). My husband and I decided to finally move to Colorado when we started a family.
Q: At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Whitney: During my second year at a small liberal arts college in Missouri, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy. I immediately fell in love with art. I traveled around Europe visiting museums and artist studios with other students. It was a life-changing experience. I transferred to an art school as soon as I returned and never looked back!
Q: What’s the first piece you ever made?
Whitney: Ha! My first piece was an installation of tennis balls hanging from ceiling. I collected a million balls from local tennis clubs. I filled the entire ceiling with an undulating sea of hanging florescent balls. It was experiential, spectacular, and immersive. I was so proud of it. Except, I didn’t realize how heavy tons of tennis balls would be. They ALL came tumbling down. A lesson learned!!!
Q: What are three words describe your work?
Whitney: Whimsical, light, earthy
Q: Are you self-taught?
Whitney: I am formally trained in art, having double majored in Art History and Fine Art during my undergraduate studies, and then continued to get my Masters degree in Interdisciplinary Art. Only to realize that I didn’t want to pursue that path after having children. So I’m teaching myself about designing functional objects. However, I think that having a background creating installations has been a good foundation.
Q: Do you have a favorite piece you’ve made?
Whitney: During my time in art school and continuing after graduation, I used to make large-scale installations. My favorite work was my MFA thesis piece, installed at the Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis, MO. It was titled “Like a Trophy.” It was a playful analysis of American culture and the desire to be seen.
Q: Do you have a favorite place in the mountains you like to visit?
Whitney: Summit County. My grandparents bought one of the very first condos in Keystone when the mountain was just developing. So I have lots of fond memories and go as often as possible! I also have my grandfather’s old woodworking tools. So woodworking and loving the mountains must run in the family!
Q: What do you love most about what you do?
Whitney: I love the problem-solving process of designing a new piece. The magic for me is in the balancing act between material limitations, functionality, and form. In contrast, I’m discovering that production is a challenge for me because I hate to be pulled away from creating new designs! I’m hoping to move towards more “one-of-a-kind” pieces in the future so that I can keep doing what I love.