We had the chance to chat with Andrea Hill, founder of Tortuga Living, a home brand filled with timeless, unique, and flexible products which are truly works of art in themselves. We picked her brain to see what inspires her, including her newly renovated 1890’s Brooklyn brownstone, and yes, she really is as cool as you think.
What do you think Tortuga Living is doing well?
We have always focused on producing flexible pieces for the home, which has a new meaning these days. Because home is now everything, our furniture and decor also have to work harder for us. Every design we release considers “flexibility” how this quality can make life easier and more joyful.
Where do you go for inspiration when you’re stuck?
I find inspiration in design-adjacent fields like art or food. Simply shifting gears and using my mind and hands to make dinner can help me problem solve for a design. I think that multi-disciplinary approaches can stimulate inspiration. I recently saw the Alexander Calder exhibition at MoMA and was reminded of this concept. He made drawings, films and paintings in addition to small-scale and monumental sculptures, all of which converse with each other.
What is one item in your own home that you think everyone should have?
I think everyone should live with plants. They are inexpensive and give back exponentially. We have a monstera deliciosa that has climbed all the way up our fireplace mantle and makes the room come alive. The extreme verticality is counter-balanced by our bird of paradise plant which is potted in our newly launched Large Platform Planter designed by @lightandladder.
Which room in your house is your favorite? Why?
The kitchen – we debated over every material and exhaustively researched appliances. When designing the custom cabinets, we measured every glass and container we had (as well as my arm span). I like that our kitchen has a relatively small footprint. I went to cooking school and grew to appreciate efficient kitchens and how to keep your work area small and tidy.
What changed for you over the past year?
We welcomed our daughter last February just weeks before COVID became a reality. Having a child has made me work harder within concentrated spans of time. It forced me to identify where we needed to grow the team and taught me how to empower that team with responsibility.
What are your biggest tips for staying productive throughout the day?
I think I might be over-productive, which is its own problem. It means I set unrealistic expectations for others and experience frequent burnout. I’m a rigorous list-maker and ready myself to work with a liter of black tea.
What is your favorite thing to do after a long work day?
I love sitting with my husband and daughter on our Brooklyn stoop and greeting the neighborhood. We live on a bustling avenue so there’s plenty of action. We even ordered custom stoop cushions to make this daily ritual more inviting.
What is something you’re excited about right now?
I’m excited about a new set of cutting / presentation wooden boards that TORTUGA is developing for late 2021. We were almost ready to start production, but had second thoughts during the sampling process. It’s tempting to release designs as quickly as possible, but often, time is the most important ingredient.
Do you think our home affects our mental health? If so, how?
I believe that every environment where we spend significant time affects our mental health. Being in a room full of plants can not only improve air quality but provide calming effects. But it’s not only about how the home is designed but how we utilize the home. For example, I try to leave home at least once a day for a walk or errand. We also try to open the windows and air out the space at least once per week. These rituals are important to my mental health.