Words and images courtesy Billabong.

Truth be told, we have a serious-thing for inspired spaces, and Emily Katz’ artistic retreat in Portland, Oregon, is seriously a snapshot from one of our dreams.

It’s easy to feel both lost and found in her colourful jaunts between house and home, macramé workshops across the pond, Japanese surf excursions and all the tales recounting of her “wanderlustful” life. Major swoon.

As an artist, where do you seek inspiration? and where do you often find it?

I seek it from my travels, a colourful textile, a memorable meal. Flavours and colours and textures all playing together. I am inspired by scents, memories, nature, and the ocean. I am also inspired by creative people everywhere who are living their dreams.


Tell us a little bit more about your workshops. How did you get started? What do you love most about them?

I learned macrame from my mom, a few years ago, after not seeing her for most of my life. I had been an entrepreneur, I ran two clothing lines after dropping out of art school. But it didn’t stick. And macrame just took off, it wanted me to bring it into the world. Some Japanese magazine editors were doing a feature on Portland and DIY design. They came to our house and asked about the plant hangers in our guest bathroom. I told them my mom and I made them, and they were so excited about them. They wanted to know where they could buy some, but at the time, macrame was not very popular. Anyway, the next day they came back over and I taught my very first macrame workshop to Japanese magazine editors!

I love connecting with my students, seeing the AHA! moment when someone gets the knot. The silence in the room when everyone is really in the zone.

Mostly, it is about connecting.

What makes a house a home? any standouts in your own home?

Lots of patterned textiles! Rugs! And found objects. Beach driftwood, art from friends. My vintage Falcon chair scored from an estate shop. Oh, and tons of plants.

Any tips for the novice decorator?

Surround yourself with things you love. Lots of plants, natural fibres, and a few special pieces. Almost everything in our home was thrifted over the years or traded, or found for free on the side of the road! Patience is important in design unless you have a huge budget. Don’t rush into decorating just because you want your place to feel finished. Well designed homes are never finished. They breathe. They evolve.


Your artwork has taken you all over the world – Where are some of your favorite places you’ve visited so far, and why?

I loved reconnecting with my high school photography teacher, Michal, in Norway. She runs a salt factory on a little island called North Sea Salt Works! The best salt in the world. We ate raw salmon, took a road trip up the coast, and talked about art for hours. The light there is also totally incredible.

I also loved visiting my friends in Copenhagen, London, Los Angeles, Austin. Really anywhere that I have good friends or great people to show me around, those have been the best trips.

We heard you recently picked up surfing Nicaragua – tell us about your first experience…

It was really challenging! We were doing yoga every morning, and so I was already sore. But even being bad at surfing is still fun. I mean, you get to hang out in the ocean! The first day I stood up a few times, but the second I had a bit of trouble. It did make me want to get stronger though so I can be a better surfer. I hope to take advantage of Oregon surf spots, and also head to some sunny countries to practice catching those waves…

Any upcoming adventures that include some time in the sand and in the salt? If not, what’s your dream destination?

I am headed to Japan next week! Most of the trip will be in cities, but at the end of the trip I am headed to a film festival on the beach.

I really would love to go back to Bali, the culture was so inspiring to me.

Beach times are my favorite though. So really anywhere in the world with sand and salt, good friends, a good book, and a frosty margarita and I am good….

Three adjectives that describe yourself….

whimsical, driven, wanderlustful


Read the full blog on the Billabong website here.