A Studio in Los Angeles, A Life-Size Cabinet of Curiosities

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A little over a year ago, Joanna Williams launched her business, Kneeland Mercado, out of her home. It started out as a vintage textile studio, where she sourced one of a kind prints, embroideries and embellishments for designers in fashion, beauty and home as inspiration for product development. In addition to sourcing, Joanna also designs her own line of embellishments and embroideries. As the business has grown, (a year ago she launched an online store) so has her need for a designated space that caters to both sides of her rapidly growing business. She wanted a large space for textile appointments with clients as well as a showroom for her online store. In the six months she has been in this Los Angeles studio, she knocked a wall down between the studio and store, and painted gold trim on the doors, reminiscent of an old Paris salon. The result is a giant cabinet of curiosities, sure to inspire anyone who walks through those doors. Thank you Joanna, and thanks to Ava Alamshah for the photos! Shannon

Image above: The doorway is what separates the studio from the store. As mentioned above, I wanted it to feel like a salon so I had the trim painted gold and I used two knobs that my friend bought me in India that are the perfect shade of mint green and gold. The rug on the wall is from a line of rugs I have made in Mexico City. I love how the small size looks on the wall — you can really see and feel the texture.

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Image above: I was inspired by a table of the same size and shape I saw in Elle Decor a couple of years ago and I commissioned my good friend Steve Nasker of Pacific Wonderland to create a version of it for me. I wanted a centerpiece for the studio where I could present my collection of textiles to clients and where I could sit and design embellishments or flip through books and magazines.

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See more of this Los Angeles studio after the jump…

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Image above: I have a “forever inspiration” board next to my desk that is filled with mementos from friends and family and of images of people whom I admire, as well as things I’ve picked up on my travels. The BFF card is from one of my oldest and dearest friends; the God’s eye I bought in Mexico City where my family is from and where I travel to often, and the vintage embroidered JW (my initials) on silk fabric was something I found on one of my sourcing trips in California.

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Image above: The glorious crown is from John Derian. I bought it about 3 years ago at his store and he had smaller versions, but I went for the big one and schlepped it home very carefully.

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Image above: These Kneeland Mercado rugs are made in Mexico City by a father and son. They are handmade using 100% wool and come in 4 sizes. Aside from looking great as a rug or as a wall hanging, they are the coziest rugs ever. Someone recently told me that their daughter rolled off of her bed in her sleep onto the rug and didn’t even wake up. That made me happy.

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Image above: One of the most exquisite stores in Paris is Cire Trudon. They are a very old French candle company that has been around since 1643 and they make the chicest, most luxurious candles in a variety of colors such as turquoise, neon pink, black, etc. The store is so precious that you’re not allowed to touch the candles on display. An employee wears gloves to handle them for you. It’s a beautiful shopping experience and a very rare one. I especially love this turquoise with gold, although it’s almost too beautiful to burn!

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Image above: I’ve been tearing images out of magazines since I was a teenager and have binders and binders of them that I like to organize and color code (editorials, shopping, travel, interiors, etc). I bought a big piece of homasote from the hardware store and cut it in half, then covered it in linen and hung on a wall of my studio. The images I pin up change depending on my mood or what’s inspiring me or what I’m working on.

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Image above: The vase I bought in Portland at Una. You can find some seriously amazing old ceramics and pottery in Portland, and a lot of it is at Una.

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Image above: This is a gorgeous book about the culture and history of Spain’s regional clothing, told through the paintings of Valencian artist Joaquín Sorolla. It is visually stunning and provides some serious fashion inspiration.

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Image above: For the store, I wanted white shelves because most of the product I carry tends to be really bright and vivid. I combined the white shelves with marble tables, low teak tables, and copper tables. The low table holds rugs and striped Moroccan pom pom blankets.

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Image above: This is just a sample of some of the vintage embroideries in my collection along with some beadwork.

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Image above: My mother-in-law bought this for me in San Luis Obispo where she lives. She found it at a consignment store, snapped a photo and send it to me and I replied, YES, PLEASE.

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Image above: My grandmother went on a trip to Key West, Florida a few years ago and sent me the most far-out bracelet and necklace from a designer named Ariella Hogen. I ordered some of her clay pieces for the store. The pieces are very ’80s but also have a really cool, modern look to them.

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Image above: I bought these old pom pom sandals from a folk museum that was looking to get rid of a lot of ethnic textiles. They’re from Nigeria and they were featured in the book Trading Styles. They’re my size, too!

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Image above: This table was given to me by my incredible mother-in-law and it fits perfectly in this corner of my studio. It’s English, with candy twist turned legs and Arts & Crafts carved face boards. It was left out in the weather which is why it’s that faded patina. The pouf I bought on a trip to Fez, Morocco.

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Image above: The weaving was a birthday present from my very dear friend Janelle Pietrzak of All Roads.

Image above: The bottom makeshift table is made from a slab of limestone and two round pieces of terra cotta that are repurposed chimney flues and drain pipes. It’s a favorite.

Image above: The green doll is made from papier mache and I bought her in Mexico City. The pins are all Turkish nazars, meant to ward off evil. My brother-in-law and his wife who live in Turkey gave them to me.

Image above: The baskets are made of colorful wire by prison inmates outside of Mexico City. The money that the inmates generate through their sales goes to support their families and to give them access to entertainment and supplies within the prison system.

Image above: This antique painting is also from my mother-in-law. I always admired it in her house and one day she gave it to me!

Image above: The shirt is vintage and is hand embroidered. I bought it at one of my favorite San Francisco stores, Reliquary. The pants are from J. Crew and the shoes I bought at Le Bon Marché in Paris about 3 years ago.


  1. Candi says:

    Such a cool space…I love all the handmade artisan pieces!!

  2. Allison says:

    We orrdered one of the Kneeland rugs and it’s everyone’s favorite piece in the house. Not only does Joanna have amazing taste but she is one of the nicest people.

  3. janelle says:

    Love Joanna and her space is so full of inspiration! It is a treat to visit her studio. I always leave feeling full of excitement and motivation. xoxo

  4. I love this post. I am inspired, thank you. I do trend/textile design for various companies and i would love to visit and have a cuppa while looking at textile designs. Sounds like a perfect place.

  5. maggie says:

    So much texture in one small space – love it! I may need to invest in one of those kneeland rugs.

  6. Emily says:

    Love love love! I would have a difficult time parting with all of those amazing textiles…

  7. Gillianne says:

    A textile lovers candy store. Makes me want to reach through the screen and touch all those fibers appreciatively. Thanks for this tour, DS.

  8. okosine says:

    Beautifully Inspired … Thank You !

  9. Merysa says:

    Great aesthetic. Her studio is being used in a very different way than mine but I can see how I might add some ledges to bring in more inspirational objects for me to ponder while I do my work.

  10. Simone says:

    Gorgeous images! Joanna is a truly inspiring lady with a unique vision. Love this post!


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