A lot has changed for Mara Hoffman in the 22 years since she started her eponymous clothing label, focused on sustainable materials and processes. For starters, she’s no longer hand-beading pieces “as a one-woman show in a tiny apartment above Curry in a Hurry” in New York City. Through all the creative change that comes with decades of artistic work, the natural world remains a steady inspiration. “I feel that everything I have ever designed or brought into creation has been informed by nature and my relationship to it,” she shares. So, naturally, when designing her latest collaboration with West Elm, a 22-piece home collection ranging from $19.50–$799, looking to the great outdoors was instinctual.
Mara’s clothing has long been heralded as the reigning definition of low-key chic—dresses in electrifying prints, shirts cut from texturally fascinating materials, and flowing skirts with movement sewn into the seams. (Her designs can even be seen on AD cover star and design titan Justina Blakeney.) So, Mara’s innate interest in home decor should come as no surprise. Citing vintage furniture as inspiration curated from Pinterest, 1stDibs, Chairish, and eBay, the designer took the same approach of mood-boarding for this collaboration. After diving the vision into three distinct moods, the home story “slowly took form.”
Drawn to the space between, Mara alludes to her love of liminal space in the creation of her West Elm collection. “There’s always a conversation between the physical and energetic fields and then how we live within that,” she says. “I like to take my time in finding things that fit.” Putting together a home, in the designer’s eyes, is an ongoing process, much like witnessing how plants live in spaces. “It’s an essential part of my design aesthetic, and learning how to listen to their needs and where they want to be in a space has been a practice I’ve been cultivating for some time,” Mara adds.
A calm palette of intentionally selected neutrals and earthy textures is to be expected from Mara Hoffman x West Elm. The designer’s increased time spent at her upstate home in New York, where the collaboration was shot and styled, played an essential role in the mood-setting of the collection. As for West Elm being the right creative partner, Mara points out the brand’s relationship with nature. “We are huge fans of West Elm’s long-term and committed efforts to their sustainability practices,” she said via email. “They are leaders in their industry, and there was a trust built into the relationship from the start because we knew that we were aligned in our approach to manufacturing from the environmental to the human-centric side of this work.”
Layered textures weave their way through the designer’s collaboration with West Elm. Mara’s personal favorite, the Spiral Wall Art ($199), makes a splash in the most nuanced way. Other highlights include the Faux Shearling Occasional Chair ($699) and corresponding Ottoman ($399), the Speckled Vase ($60)—ideal for collecting wildflowers—and the Color-Block Shearling Pillow ($47.50). The collection’s materials reflect Mara’s intentionality, ranging from the faux shearling made of recycled polyester, Forest Stewardship Council–approved wood, and organic cotton.
“We need way less than we think we do,” Mara explains when reflecting on the lessons from nature she was taught while designing this collection. “Respect it, and only create what can be made in integrity and reverence to this planet.”