For This Artist-Centered Studio, Design Is Collaborative Storytelling

Los Angeles–based interiors studio Wall for Apricots partners with women and artists to create idiosyncratic designs that reflect the individuality, history, and mission of each client.

Self-described “new kids” on the Los Angeles design scene, Katy Burgess and Brady Cunningham cofounded Wall for Apricots as a women-led, women-focused, and artist-centered creative consulting and interior design studio whose narrative approach to designing spaces and objects balances the pure and the playful.

With collaborative storytelling in mind, Burgess and Cunningham approach their projects with a spirit of adventure and keen attention to personal narratives. “We’re inspired by our clients—their desires, histories, specialties, and creative visions,” says Burgess. “That’s always where we start.”

The studio’s name is borrowed from a 1968 sculpture by Minimalist artist and author Anne Truitt, inspired by Truitt’s writing on juggling personal identity as both an artist and a mother. Now both mothers of three, Burgess and Cunningham joke that dividing time between two passions—family and creative work—helps dictate which projects they take on. “We only commit to projects worth leaving our kids for!” says Burgess. “In other words, we choose projects we can pour our hearts and souls into, without feeling guilty about the time and dedication required.” 

High school friends and former roommates Katy Burgess and Brady Cunningham parted ways as adults to pursue separate careers, marriages, and motherhood. Burgess spent time commissioning public art in London, while Cunningham cofounded fashion boutique TenOverSix. In 2015, the pair reunited in L.A. to form the interior design and creative consulting studio Wall for Apricots, where they design interiors, branding, and furniture. COURTESY ANNIE MEISEL PHOTOGRAPHY

Early on, Wall for Apricots began collaborating with local women-owned start-ups. The mission to amplify women’s voices evolved organically, as the company grew by word of mouth among a tight-knit community of L.A. owners. Says Burgess: “Eventually we formed our business model around giving back to support these kinds of communities,” through a mix of pro bono projects and dedicating a portion of all fees to women-focused charities.

Wall for Apricots’ earliest projects are characterized by 1980s-style glass blocks, a softened sunrise palette, and repetitive graphic elements. In 2018, they worked with Vanessa Lee, founder of beauty concept bar The Things We Do, to blend traditional Filipino textiles, architecture, materials, and craftsmanship with a modern California perspective. COURTESY ANNIE MEISEL PHOTOGRAPHY

After extensive research into Filipino fashion and architecture, Burgess and Cunningham developed custom waiting room furniture, retail displays, and lighting design for the space in addition to branding—all with a deep understanding of the person behind the business. COURTESY ANNIE MEISEL PHOTOGRAPHY

Their latest retail project, Reparations Club, is the only Black- and woman-owned bookstore in L.A. A collaboration with owner and founder Jazzi McGilbert, the design concept started with a carefully selected collection of books from the shop’s owner, followed by a deep dive into her family photos and memories. “We designed the whole space around the books Jazzi sells and the artists and writers she cares most about,” Burgess notes. These distinctly personal touches include artist K’era Morgan’s custom-made mixed-media lampshades (collaged from McGilbert’s old magazines), mirrors inspired by Faith Ringgold’s patchwork illustration style (her children’s tale Tar Beach is available in the store), and curtains inspired by artist Mickalene Thomas (whose book Muse is also sold in the store).

This year, Wall for Apricots launched a line of custom, VOC-free wallpaper called Wallpaper for Apricots, celebrating the artists that inspire them.

Recently Wall for Apricots launched a new wallpaper line, Wallpaper for Apricots, in collaboration with four artists. The layered, multicolored collection of figural and floral patterns speaks to Burgess’s background in art history, translating fine art into affordable, accessible decor with a clear focus on the artist who created each design. “Wallpaper is one of those things that exists everywhere—there are hundreds of thousands of options,” says Burgess, “but how often do you know the name of the artist whose design covers your walls?” Ten percent of sales from each design will go to a women-focused mutual aid organization selected by the artist (including Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Museum of Creative Human Art, Sistah Space, and EMILY’s List). 

The studio’s collaborative, community-driven spirit fits right in with the informal, often-hybrid nature of L.A. art communities, where many designers are likely to work in multiple or overlapping disciplines. Its designs reference art history and repurpose vintage pieces while incorporating fresh ideas and local talent. But the depth of research driving its idiosyncratic visual narratives, along with the clear focus on supporting women-owned businesses and charities, sets Wall for Apricots apart. “It’s inspiring to surround yourself with like-minded women making creative contributions to their communities,” Burgess concludes. “We just feel really lucky.”

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