Jessica Garber, a design collector + curator, is a wandering Gemini who has cultivated exquisite taste in everything—art, design, fashion, wine and the list goes on. She’s recently opened up her atelier, Sumner, on Melrose Avenue. She grew up in Calabasas but has spent most of her adult life in L.A. Her city has provided much of her inspiration, specifically it’s modern architecture mixed with nature. She tries to get a long walk in every day, whether on the nearby beach or the occasional hike on the Santa Monica Mountains, which both calms her nerves and satisfies her Gemini need to be on the move. Jessica finds inspiration in all the pieces she collects and especially appreciates that they were once used and loved by another person.
Sun Sign: Gemini
Do you identify with your astrological sign?
My sun and moon are both in Gemini and my rising sign is Virgo. I absolutely identify with my signs and feel that the position of planets and stars can give us strong insights into our personalities and the collective consciousness. Geminis love to travel and move and that definitely resonates with me. I chose this career path so I could travel and find the pieces I collect. We can also be quite mercurial, restless and heady. The Virgo in me is a perfectionist with high standards, especially on myself—which is actually pretty helpful with a shop that is about aesthetic.
Can you share some of your guilty pleasures?
Sleeping in, buying too many clothes and drinking expensive wine.
Do you have a go-to-wine right now?
I love skin-contact wine and really enjoy wines from Sicily. I'm especially liking Alessandro Viola Sinfonia Di Grillo at the moment.
What did you want to be when you were little?
How did you get into collecting furniture and art?
It was a natural progression. I’ve always loved to be on the hunt and exploring is just part of my character. All of my jobs have led me to where I am now. Also, my boyfriend has been a mentor to me in this business. I could not have gotten to this point without him.
Describe some of your past jobs that helped you get to this point.
I have had so many jobs, but specifically, I have worked for some interior designers, sourcing materials and pieces. Like I said before, my partner has also inspired me to learn about this business. I feel like being with him has given me a strong education and insight into what I do. I also travel to Europe four times a year (an education in itself) and do a lot of research on the daily. My first really strong pieces were a pair of Spanish chairs by Børge Mogensen. Everything about their structure and material resonated with me. They are organic, minimal and the ones I found, had a beautiful patina. I'm very attracted to that.
What makes 20th-century furniture and art special?
In a general sense, I am always attracted to the design and wear on pieces. I also really appreciate organic materials. For instance, leather wears so beautifully and becomes better over time.
Who are your favorite designers/artists of that time?
Designers: Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé, Pierre Chapo, Bruno Mathsson, Alvar Aalto, Jean-Michel Frank, Børge Mogensen, Carlo Scarpa, Carlo Mollino, Gae Aulenti, Achille Castiglioni, Ettore Sottsass, Mario Bellini, Gio Ponti, Hans Wegner, I could go on forever.
Artists: Agnes Martin, Louise Bourgeois, Mark Rothko, Donald Judd, Anni Albers,
Cy Twombly, James Turrell—I could go on and on.
Of course, without giving away all your secrets, where do you go to find your treasures?
I go all over, but mostly I find my pieces in Europe. French design is one my favorites and Paris is my dream city.
What is your process for deciding what pieces you pick to sell, what you leave behind and what you keep for yourself?
It’s very strange, I don’t feel an attachment to anything that I sell. I get to own it for a little while and I love that it finds a home in someone else’s life. That is very satisfying to me.
Is there a fear in your business that you’ll run out of pieces?
There is always the reality of certain design becoming more and more of a rarity. A lot of the design I find is vintage and only a certain amount was made. In a way, it elevates their worth and is helpful, so fear is not involved. But yes, these things become obsolete, so they are great investments in art.
You have a new store that just opened on Melrose Avenue, how has that experience been so far?
It has been great. I’ve had really good feedback and I’m really happy to be sharing the block with some very beautiful galleries.
You’ve been described as someone who has the best taste in everything. Describe your style and how your taste has been cultivated over the years.
That is a very sweet compliment. It’s has been a natural progression. I am constantly inspired and since the design world is vast, there is always something new to learn. As of right now, I feel like my shop is an extension of how I live and what I appreciate aesthetically. Life is always shifting and changing and so does my curation. Also, I do a lot of research and travel to gain a better understanding of this business. Luckily, there is a beautiful community that is interested in design and furthering the knowledge through art and design fairs across the world.
Is there anything we haven’t talked about that is important to you, your style or your business?
I'm very interested in the energy behind objects; I love that the pieces I curate and collect have had a past before me and will have a future after me. I also think it’s important to honor the art of design. It’s a beautiful practice. I have always been an appreciator and not so much a creator of art, so this has been a really exciting process to be involved in.