Designer Interview Series:
CHRISTINE LIN

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Photo credit: R. Brad Knipstein

Form + Field, based in San Francisco, brings joy and well-being through empathetic interiors. Led by founder Christine Lin, an MIT-trained architect with expertise in art and design, the firm's philosophy emphasizes integration and enduring spaces. Specializing in eclectic modernism, their work has earned national acclaim. From corporate to startup tech environments, Lin's MBA from UC Berkeley complements her design skills. Form + Field offers comprehensive interior design services for residential and commercial projects, covering new construction, renovations, and complete furnishings.

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Photo credit: R. Brad Knipstein / Design: Form + Field


OBAKKI

Where does your love for design come from? What led you to design as a career?

CHRISTINE LIN 
I have always been interested in art and design for as long as I can remember - drawing and painting, crafting, creating outfits, arranging my room - it’s always been a part of my life. However, I never considered design as a career until high school when an art teacher suggested that I look into architecture. I ended up studying architecture in college, but got disillusioned for various reasons, and then took a long detour into tech before going into interior design about 7 years ago. While in tech, I completed a personal renovation and furnishings project for my husband, then boyfriend, and quickly realized that interior design is my passion and calling. I haven’t looked back since!

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Photo credit: R. Brad Knipstein / Design: Form + Field


OBAKKI

How has your background in architecture, mechanical engineering and business from MIT and UC Berkeley influenced your approach to work at Form + Field, or even in your personal life?

CHRISTINE LIN 
It’s been hugely influential. How I think about interiors is from an architectural point of view versus a decorating point of view. Our approach is generally more conceptual and the architecture always plays a big role in our designs. How I run the business is also differentiated because of my business background - there’s a rigor to the project management, structure, and processes that you don’t typically find at a small interior design firm. Lastly, my engineering background makes it very easy for me to work with contractors and other makers because I understand how things are built and how to come up with solutions on the spot that work. I’m a better designer and business owner because of my various experiences outside of the industry.

OBAKKI
Form + Field emphasizes empathy as a key design principle. Can you share a specific project where your team successfully incorporated a client’s identity and way of life into the design, embracing the unconventional?

CHRISTINE LIN 
The most salient example is a project that we have in Tahoe, CA that’s under construction. The contemporary architecture is stunning, but also quite severe - there’s a lot of glass, metal, and concrete. The client had very somber finishes and materials for all of their furniture - what you would expect for the architecture. However, the client loves bright, rainbow colors - which is exactly what you wouldn’t expect for the architecture! We created a color block scheme throughout the entire home that involves every color of the rainbow, but does it in a way that still fits with the contemporary architecture. There’s now a joy in the home that reflects the client’s personality and love of color.

Form + Field

Photo credit: R. Brad Knipstein / Design: Form + Field

OBAKKI
Longevity is a significant consideration in your design philosophy. How do you go about crafting environments and selecting materials that stand the test of time while remaining aesthetically appealing?

CHRISTINE LIN 
We draw most of our inspiration from the client and the architecture for our designs which inherently lends itself to longevity. We don’t pay attention to what’s popular or trending or what will draw the most attention, and instead focus on what feels right for the client, the space, and the setting. When you are able to capture that at a very high level of skill and sensibility, the design will endure. Along with this, we always try to use quality materials and finishes that are timeless and will age well.

Form + Field

Photo credit & Design: Form + Field

OBAKKI
Living in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, how does the local community and environment influence or inspire your design work?

CHRISTINE LIN
I wouldn’t say that my specific neighborhood inspires me as much as California Modernism does in general. California is blessed with so much beauty and sunlight, and the design of spaces is very much oriented outwards. We like to use a lot of wood and natural materials and there’s also a lightness and simplicity in our work that I think reflects a California mindset.

Form + Field

Photo credit: Mariko Reed / Design: Form + Field

OBAKKI
Do you believe sustainability is a key element of great design?

CHRISTINE LIN 
Always - the best designs are often the most elegant solutions that factor in every aspect of the product life cycle. There is especially an urgency in this day and age but it can feel daunting and difficult because it is! My hope is that there will continue to be more and more product options and services out there like Obakki that make it easier for everyone to make choices that are more sustainable.


OBAKKI

What are your favourite Obakki collections or products? Are there specific concepts, designs or artisans that deeply resonate with you?

Gotha Bookcase Furniture
Gotha Bookcase Furniture
Gotha Bookcase Furniture
Gotha Bookcase Furniture
Gotha Bookcase Furniture
Gotha Bookcase Furniture
Gotha Bookcase Furniture
Gotha Bookcase Furniture

Gotha Bookcase

$14,375.00
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters Ochre
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters Black
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters Eggshell
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters Ochre
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters Black
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters Eggshell
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters

Augustus Vase

$230.00
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Kitchen & Dining
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Kitchen & Dining

Thorned Pulquera Pitcher

$95.00

CHRISTINE LIN
The minimalist yet impactful Gotha Bookcase catches our attention, while the Augustus Vase captivates with its innovative forms achieved through 3D printing. The Thorned Pulquera Pitcher emerges as a fusion of sculptural aesthetics and functional design, boasting an unconventional use of plant pigments. An exploration of technique unfolds in the Kurinuki Yunomi Cups, where the artistry lies in the intricate process of hollowing out. Lastly, the Trono Oak Sideboard exemplifies the synthesis of heritage inspiration and modern creation.

OBAKKI
Global travel plays a role in your well-honed design eye— can you share an instance where a specific travel experience or trip significantly inspired or informed a design concept or decision?

CHRISTINE LIN 
Back in 2014, I made a solo pilgrimage to Naoshima, an island west of Osaka, known for its art. It has amazing museums designed by Tadao Ando, a favorite architect of mine, and there’s various art installations and art houses scattered around the island. Experiencing Tadao Ando’s work firsthand was almost a spiritual experience for me. In particular, how he places windows or openings. He frames views versus indiscriminately putting as many windows in as possible. There’s an experience of drawing a person towards the light or the view, and you can only do that if you also have the contrast of darkness.

For my own home, this principle was very much top of mind when deciding where to place windows and skylights and whether the windows were obscured or clear. A skylight was placed at the end of a long narrow hall to draw you into the space and create a destination. Reeded glass was used frequently to obscure windows views that don’t add to the experience of the space. The experience of walking through the space was crafted in a very intentional way just through the placement of the windows.

Form + Field

Photo credit: Mariko Reed / Design: Form + Field

OBAKKI
As a mother and a professional, how do you navigate the balance between work and family life, and do your personal experiences as a parent influence your design choices, especially in residential projects?

CHRISTINE LIN 
What I’ve found to be most important is taking care of yourself. I exercise regularly, eat healthy (most of the time), sleep 8 hours most nights, and I take breaks when I need them. Since becoming a mother, I’m not a workaholic by any measure, and I average out to about 8 hrs/day of work. You have to decide what boundaries work for you and uphold them. This works for me and gives me enough energy to be present with my son and husband versus giving them the leftovers.

When designing for clients with young children, I definitely keep safety and durability top of mind. That being said, everyone’s kids are different - some kids may never have a desire to put marker on walls, while for others it might be a constant concern for the parents. We provide recommendations based on the concerns of individual parents. General guidelines we tend to follow: easy to clean (but sustainable) materials such as wool, materials that don’t suffer from scratches such as solid wood, avoidance of brittle materials like glass.

OBAKKI
What’s next for you professionally and what are you looking forward to in life?

CHRISTINE LIN
We have a large, new-construction generational home located in Kauai that’s just beginning. It’s an amazing opportunity to collaborate with Zak Architecture to create a holistic vision from scratch - a dream vacation home for our clients. This will be our third project with these clients so there’s an inherent trust. We’d love to do more of these holistic, ground-up projects with collaborators we respect and admire. Personally, I’m at a point in my life where relationships take precedence over anything else, so I’m looking forward to spending more quality time with family, friends, and like-minded colleagues.

SHOP CHRISTINE'S FAVOURITES

Gotha Bookcase Furniture
Gotha Bookcase Furniture
Gotha Bookcase Furniture
Gotha Bookcase Furniture
Gotha Bookcase Furniture

Gotha Bookcase

$14,375.00
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters Ochre
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters Ochre
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters Black
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters Eggshell
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters
Augustus Vase Vases + Planters

Augustus Vase

$230.00
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Drinkware
Thorned Pulquera Pitcher Kitchen & Dining

Thorned Pulquera Pitcher

$95.00
Kurinuki Yunomi Cup | Set of 4 Pottery
Kurinuki Yunomi Cup | Set of 4 Pottery
Kurinuki Yunomi Cup | Set of 4 Pottery
Kurinuki Yunomi Cup | Set of 4 Pottery Smoked
Kurinuki Yunomi Cup | Set of 4 Kitchen & Dining

Kurinuki Yunomi Cup | Set of 4

$420.00

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