Tour Julia Kostreva’s Dreamy Workspace

Click through your favorite indie e-tailers, and you’ll be hard-pressed not to spot a standout design by S.F. creative gal, Julia Kostreva. Her collection of prints, paper goods, and tech accessories are so out-of-this world adorable, it's no wonder Need Supply Co. tapped her for its recent collection of vibrant-hued notebooks and daily planners (perfect for our equally charming itineraries, natch!).
As we do, we happily trailed the ink-wielding designer as she toured us through her sun-soaked Inner Richmond studio. Like her creative works, Julia’s space is utterly dreamy — from the handmade decor to the lush greenery. Peek into her art-filled space and get inspired by her effortless style — just don't be surprised if you develop a huge girl crush!
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
Tell us about what you do! How did you get into designing?
"I run a creative studio and shop. I'm both a creative director and a freelance graphic designer. I love working with creative entrepreneurs to help them tell their stories. I also love designing products to sell in my shop. I do a wide variety of things for different jobs — ranging from web design, logos, branding and printed materials to product design, photo shoots and art direction, to editorial creative direction. I've been making art, building websites, screen printing, and selling paintings since high school. Design seems the most natural step from there. I constantly evolve 'what I do' in order to be able to do what I love."
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
We love your studio! Tell us how you went about designing your space.
"I like spaces that are open, airy, light, and sunny. I also like unfinished wood — we built all the shelves and bookcases."
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
What’s your favorite thing in your studio and why?
"The plants, absolutely. I always want to bring in more. When you work inside, it's nice to bring some outside in."
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
How would you describe your personal style?
"I love neutrals and textures, a bit of pattern, and sometimes a pop of color. Lately, I've been getting more into clothes that are well-made and last longer — just a more classic look."

Julia is all giggles in Madewell pants, and J.Crew graphic t-shirt and patterned scarf.
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
What is your design aesthetic? Where do you draw inspiration from?
"Minimal, classic, new. I'm always looking and trying out new things. Recently, I sewed my first leather laptop sleeve sample, I took my first ceramic class, I went to an amazing David Hockney exhibit, and drove down the California coast."

We love that laptop sleeve! Do you have any plans to dabble more into accessories?
"Absolutely, I would love to expand into that. My shop is my playground. It's a place where I can explore new things. I take it slowly though. When you make products, the manufacturing, storage, shipping — it's all very expensive. It's definitely not my paycheck, but I love doing it. It may be two, five, or ten years before things really take off — who knows. But, that just means doing a little and keep going."
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
Who are some fellow local artists and makers you admire?
"I recently moved houses and I'm lucky to have an office space of my own, but I love the classes and workshops at Makeshift Society. I have been following Rena Tom of Makeshift Society, illustrator Lisa Congdon, Victoria Smith of SF Girl By Bay, and Kelly Lynn Jones of Little Paper Planes, for over ten years. The kind of creativity you find in S.F. inspired me to move here after college, and since then I've discovered so much more."
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
We love that you start with ink first! Tell us more about your design process.
"I've learned a lot of techniques from screen printing. You work with screens that are burnt from black and white film, and you end up making a multi-layered, colorful image. Now I make patterns and art prints that way. I start by drawing the textures or shapes with ink. Then, I scan it and build it on the computer, layer by layer, add coloring, sometimes I collage in photography."

When you’re not designing in your studio, where can we find you?
"I love walking through Golden Gate Park — I feel so lucky it's only about a ten-minute walk away. I also love going to the movies, visiting friends here in San Francisco or the East Bay, and going out to dinners."
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
You just designed collaborations with Of A Kind and Need Supply Co. — how did those come about?
"It was so much fun! Of A Kind contacted me, and I was so flattered. I've been following since it launched. I really admire what it does and the designers it collaborates with. I also love Need Supply's aesthetic and everything its doing — it is currently the only wholesale retailer I work with, aside from Little Paper Planes here in S.F. It's awesome to develop a relationship, see what it is inspired by for the upcoming season, and develop something for them. Collaborating has been my favorite kind of work so far."

Julia stands before her work in a vintage top, Zara pants and heels, J.Crew belt, and Young Frankk bracelets and ring.
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
You also design iPhone cases. Does tech play a big role in your work?
"Everything I create goes through the computer at some point — scanning, printing, re-scanning, digital photography, etc. And, web design is my main work, it seems everyone needs a website — I've been coding since I was 13. My boyfriend is in video games. So, yes, a lot of tech. I just wondered last night, 'What would we be doing all day if we didn't have computers?' Probably a lot of reading, and definitely some more traditional art making. I'm always looking for ways to go back and forth between those two worlds."
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
What are your favorite places to find items for home furnishings and décor?
"Let's be practical: Ikea, Home Depot, and Urban Ore for DIY projects. For plants, Paxton Gate and the Dry Garden Nursery. I dream of one day furnishing a studio or my home with everything from The Future Perfect.
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
You’re originally from South Carolina. How has moving to the Bay influenced your style, fashion- and design-wise?
"I've lived all over: South Carolina, Germany, London, Baltimore, Massachusetts, and Japan. California style is definitely my favorite — relaxed, tasteful, sunny. There's a lot of joy in design here, simplicity and beauty."
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
You were featured in a couple of books in your collection — so cool! Tell us about that.
There's a lot of print and paper love out there. I've been in Design: Paper, Print Regional Design Annual, Working With Materials, and Design School Confidential.
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
Who are your style icons?
"Charlotte Gainsburg, Audrey Hepburn, Kate Moss, Julia Roberts, and Gwyneth Paltrow."

Julia hangs in her studio wearing a Willow Knows dress, Frye boots, and self-made necklace and ring.
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
What is your philosophy on accessorizing?
"Delicate jewelry gives a soft beauty. I also adore handmade pieces."
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
Where do your source inspiration around the city?
"I love being here. The hills, the cliffs, the ocean, the parks, the city. It's all here. There are so many events, too. You can be active or take a break and just enjoy being outside."
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
How do you like to dress when you’re designing all day?
"I work from my office at home, but definitely no pajamas. It helps me feel active to get up, do my hair and makeup, and be proper about getting to work. When I sit down at the computer, I take off all my bracelets. I also love picking nice outfits to meet friends or clients."

Julia hangs out ina Zara sweater and jeans, and Converse sneakers.
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
What are you favorite local shops?
"Home decor boutiques, the shops on Fillmore, boutiques that sell handmade and independent designer items, like Little Paper Planes, Gravel & Gold, General Store, Mill Mercantile — there are so many, I could go on! And, of course, Green Apple or Kinokuniya for books, quarterlies, and magazines."
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
Your daily planners are too cute. How would you plan your ideal day?
"Wake up, take a walk to the park or go for coffee, and be back at my desk early. Finish up a client project. Go on a walk with my boyfriend to the market, make lunch at home together. Finish up other client work, or work on my projects in the afternoon. Then, dinner out with my boyfriend, or visit with friends. That's pretty much a typical day...and I feel so lucky for that."

What can we expect from you in the future? Any goals in mind?
"I've been working under wraps on my biggest project yet right now — coming out soon this year. My heart is set on it. I'm collaborating with some amazing, talented people and I am so excited and grateful for that. I hope to continue to find ways to collaborate with other creatives to tell their stories and continue making art and products."