Odds are good you know a Justina Blakeney room when you see one. Or pillow. Or rug. Colorful, richly patterned, and full of texture, it has become her stylistic calling card. The design superstar has crafted an instantly recognizable aesthetic that has led to high-profile collaborations with everyone from Casper to Anthropologie to Native Deodorant. And while Justina has long championed design that feels personal to each and every one of us, in her new book Jungalow: Decorate Wild, she pulls back the ikat curtain on what makes her design sensibilities so uniquely her.
“I had an intention for this book that it would be more personal. With this book, it being about Jungalow, which is really an extension of who I am, I thought it was important to talk about the origin story of Jungalow and how it came to be and what that means for me,” she shares over the phone one bright spring afternoon. “I really wanted to bridge the gap between what could be a memoir and a handbook and what could be a book you can pick up and flip through if you just want to be transported somewhere beautiful.” She more than succeeded, as the book is full of stunning spreads, helpful tips (like how to tell the difference between all of those natural fibers and materials), and highly personal anecdotes.
She begins the book by reflecting on her own background and how her mixedness has translated into her work. She grew up surrounded by art and artifacts from both her Black and Jewish cultures, objects that told came with a story from her parents and helped make the pieces of her home a reflection of who she is. “I grew up with such a mix of cultural, religious, and location-specific influences, I grew up with mixedness around me,” she shares. “Growing up with that orientation I was never afraid to mix things together because that’s how I was raised.”
She opens up this idea beyond her personal experience to encourage people to artfully–and respectfully–blend objects and inspiration from a variety of places. While we are all rightfully concerned about cultural appropriation, Justina hopes that with respect, knowledge, and research, people will feel empowered to look at the beauty found in every corner of the world and bring that beauty into their own homes. She finds the common design language across cultures, in her Turxi-Can section highlighting the shared tradition of decorative metalwork, and we can do the same.
Even with two books now under her belt, The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home to Good Vibes and The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes, this one felt different. “I felt at liberty to open myself up more,” she shares. While she was inspired to put out another book to help bridge the online and digital world, provide people with fun takeaways and advice, it all boils down to it feeling like the right time to share more of Justina. “My unique story and my unique identity helped shape my success,” she reflects. She hopes that her journey will help inspire the next generation of designers and makers, especially young women of color, reminding them to hold onto who they are. “I think a lot of people fear that who they are can hold them back, so for me, it’s important to share the message that who you are can be the foundation for a lot of success and a lot of your magic.”