10 Questions With… Writer and Design Enthusiast Orion Carloto
Orion Carloto is a Virgo—one of the first traits she shares at the start of our conversation—so, naturally, she is drawn to details, especially when it comes to the aesthetic of her home. When shaping or shaking up her space in Los Angeles, she tends to mix the old with the new: from stoic Italian busts to burl wood side tables.
The author, social media influencer, and design enthusiast, initially from Atlanta, writes prolifically, often armed with a notebook and coffee. She also explores the world through the lens of her 35mm camera and partners with major brands, including Burberry and Chloe, which continue to court her as she shares more and more of her life and work on social media. Though design is a relatively recent passion, Carloto’s Instagram is peppered with images of chic interiors and standout pieces, such as a vintage Annie Hiéronimus sofa, that serve as a thread throughout her varied projects.
In 2018, Carloto released her first book of poems, Flux. Now she is working on her next, expected out in 2020. Interior Design talked with her about thrift store finds, curating cover-art, and her upcoming book.
Interior Design: How does design shape your work as an artist?
Orion Carloto: I’ve always found myself finding order in things…I feel like I have my life together when things are cohesive and beautiful and that goes into even watching films and looking at the set design or walking into hotels or homes. Anything that just looks beautiful [creates] almost a sense of envy in me.
ID: What’s your earliest memory of being impacted by design?
OC: I honestly could even date back—to design in general—to middle or elementary school, wanting to be the one kid in class who had the coolest art piece that they made. That was my mentality when I was younger…. As far as interiors and design in my own home, that’s fairly new. I would say the past two-to-three years and that’s just because I started living on my own and I have my own space; I’m not living with my parents. The whole interior design thing grasps my attention a lot more than I thought it would. I thought it was just, ‘Oh you know I like this thing and I’m going to place it in my home and it looks good,’ but now I find myself knowing too much about designers and architects.
ID: How would you describe your personal aesthetic?
OC: A natural, neutral tone, for me, just feels more peaceful and more classic. My aesthetic definitely fluctuated throughout the years, I find myself pulling inspiration that’s more modern, but then I have a lot of Italian busts around my house. My friends joke, we call my house the Louvre because it’s a weird mix of somehow making it somewhat modern but bringing in the older elements of the art and the busts and stacked books and literature. That’s my favorite thing—using books as furniture, it’s an easy and cheap decoration. People think you have it all together, but it’s just books.
ID: What piece in your apartment most excites you?
OC: I would say probably my coffee table right now. I found this amazing 80s-style vintage marble coffee table with this beautiful beige finish on Facebook Marketplace. It was the most beautiful thing and it was crazy because the woman who was selling it—in her home it just was not good, it didn’t look good—she was giving it away for a reason and I was like, I’m going to make this work and it’s going to happen. So, definitely the coffee table right now, for sure. It’s very easy to go on CB2 or West Elm and get a cool piece, but I spend a lot of time scrolling on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace or 1stdibs and Chairish and things like that and finding those vintage pieces where you could get lucky and spend literally nothing because somebody just doesn’t care…or if you are spending a lot of money on a vintage piece, it has added value to it and it’s damn cool; nobody else has it.
ID: What are your favorite home design tips?
OC: Definitely the books; that’s my favorite. I have stacks of them everywhere. I love little knickknacks. It’s weird because I used to be heavily into having knickknacks all over the place and then I kind of fell into this weird hole of just being like ‘You should be more minimalist.’ Find a healthy balance between pieces that make sense and pieces that are just cool for a season.
ID: To switch gears a bit—it seems like there’s a lot of design elements in your book Flux. How did you create the look and feel of it?
OC: Flux—my original idea was I wanted it to look like a tarot card, more specifically The Lovers card. I can’t draw, really, so I had to commission somebody, and I was like what better person to draw a tarot card than a traditional tattoo artist? I reached out to this woman I follow…in regard to having her draw this and kind of have my take on it. I wanted it to not exactly look like The Lovers card but have the same idea, and add the wishbone in it, which is a big design element in the book. But I also wanted it to look kind of like it’s been tossed around and it’s been used and it’s older because, for me—whether I going thrifting or not—books that have been read and have been lived in just feel more at home to me. How can you make a new book feel like that? With that said, if you look on the back [of Flux] it almost looks dirty, a bit grungy in a good way…. The pages were also, weirdly enough, important in the process because traditionally with poetry books there are plain white pages; it’s very sterile. But I had to make sure we had more of a creamy finish to make it feel, again, more lived in.
ID: Can you talk about what we can expect from your next book?
OC: I’m hoping, fingers crossed, that this one will be hard-backed… and it’s still going to be poetry and prose. This next book is definitely going to have some added essays in it, which I find myself more drawn to recently than ever. It’s a take on…photography.
ID: What are you reading now?
OC: I just got done reading a book by Maggie Nelson—she’s one of my favorite writers; she writes so beautifully. She’s a poet and I read Jane: A Murder by her and it takes two of my favorite things—poetry and murder mystery—and makes them into one. As weird as the two sound together, she somehow makes it work. My favorite book by her is Bluets and that’s one piece of literature that has inspired me to just write in general.
ID: I noticed your cats match the palette you’re going for with the neutrals—was that intentional?
OC: It was not intentional. I got Atticus first, he’s the white one. I wasn’t looking to get a cat. I was living back at home in Atlanta and I had just gotten out of this awful heartbreak, which is what led me to write Flux, and I was super lonely, and my friend called me up and said: ‘I found this box of kittens, help me out.’ I fell in love with Atticus and ended up keeping him… then I went and adopted Lolita and she was perfect, and it just so happens that they match my apartment anywhere they go.
ID: Since technology is such a big part of your work, could you share some tips for how to unplug, if you ever do?
OC: Sometimes I become too confident in unplugging that I’m like: wait, this is my job… but when I do take time away from social media, I feel more inspired to create.
Read more: 10 Questions With… Anna Karlin