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Insight: Christa Wilm

Insight: Christa Wilm

If Christa Wilm ever pens a memoir, it could be titled Shell Shocked. What began 20 years ago as a simple project—“I made a shell mirror for my powder room and everyone wanted one,” she says—quickly exploded into shellmania. Today, Wilm fashions everything from picture frames to fireplace surrounds out of all manner of Moroccan ammonites, carrier snails and conches for her Miami and West Palm Beach shops, Christa’s South Seashells. Inspired by Roman grottoes and mosaics in Pompeii, Wilm’s creations know no decor bounds: a pair of palace-size chandeliers with apricot-colored pearl shells for a palatial, formal home or a minimalist white coral light fixture are part of her repertoire. And while she prefers working with a shell’s natural attributes, Wilm has been known to tamper with Mother Nature. “For an expert in Napoleonic history who wanted to honor the emperor’s first wife, Josephine, and her affinity for black swans, I turned a papier-ma^che´ swan into a light fixture, added shells and dyed them all black to look like feathers.”

LX:Dream collaboration...
CW: Designing a restaurant—a seafood one, of course. Rounded arches, low ceilings, plastered walls with shells pushed into the wet plaster, underwater lighting, lit, colored glass balls and nets, wonderful shell garland, and flowers presented in nautilus shells.

LX: Go-to clothing brand...
CW: I absolutely love Etro. The prints they design are incredible.

LX: Favorite hotel...
CW: Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich; it’s a secret jewel box where you walk into a century past. And it’s right across the street from the most wonderful shops and the most beautiful gourmet store in the world, Dallmayr.

LX: Design icon...
CW: Tony Duquette, no question. I’d love to get into plaster of Paris like he did. How much fun would it be to dip draperies and have them dry stiff? Gorgeous! Dip a few lobsters and use them as cartouches, throw in a pair of 18th-century gilded wood putti, and you’ve got a window treatment that’ll knock their socks off.

csseashell.com;

305.613.1535; 561.655.4650

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