The Loaded Trunk was founded by Jonna Robison, an interior designer with a deep curiosity and passion for traveling the world, connecting with artisans in different cultures and sourcing unique and beautiful objets d’art. Published seasonally, the magazine features a curated collection of travel, lifestyle, nature, art and design inspiration for a life well lived.
Sunny southern California vibes embody the style of interior designer, Raili Clasen. Her work is laidback and eclectic with elements of surprise. One of her clients described her style as “great design with a wink.”
Raili spent 18 years as a fashion executive for California-based surf brands including Raisin Swimwear, Quiksilver and Paul Frank. She dabbled in personal design projects, which were featured in magazines, design blogs and a local home tour. She decided to change things up with her career and made the leap to becoming an interior designer. In just six years she has built a great team, based in Corona del Mar, and an impressive portfolio, including residential projects throughout the country as well as a variety of interesting commercial projects. Her work has been featured in top design publications
I really enjoyed chatting with this down-to-earth California native and hearing her unconventional story what and what makes her tick.
You have such an interesting background, working for many years in the California fashion industry, prior to changing gears and launching your design firm, Raili CA, 6 years ago. What have you been able to pull from those experiences to help you with your design business?
Well, I was always surrounded by super creative people who I basically latched onto. I was always in sales. I guess the start of it was just by who I was hanging out with, and I was always leaning towards the creative, but and ended up in the sales department. I didn’t have any formal design background in clothing. The people I worked with were some of the most creative people I’ve collaborated with to this day, and I was exposed to so many.. That’s how it started, and it very much influenced how I looked at putting things together… For example, at Quiksilver, we were opening a lot of stores, and seeing the process of how that came together was fascinating and fun for me. I’ve always had a sense of style, particularly clothing. But I never once paid any attention to interior design.
I love your quintessential California Beach style. How do you describe your aesthetic?
I describe it as “old meets new.” California is full of natural woods and it’s sunny all the time, so there are lots of windows in California architecture, old school stuff. It’s light, it’s bright, it’s airy, it’s indoor-outdoor for the most part… full on. So, get ready to put lots of windows in your house and have them open and plan on going outside all the time. I get a lot of clients that have moved out of state. They always begin the initial email with, “I want a California feel in my Wisconsin house,” or, “I come from California and now I live in Boise, Idaho, and I want the California vibe.” They like it because it feels good to them.
You were able to work with one of the most famous surfers in the world when you designed the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch. Tell me about that experience.
The Surf Ranch was my favorite project, hands down. I’ll never have as much fun! It was just amazing. They were so much fun, and the really cool part was, Lemoore, California is in the middle of nowhere in central California. So, it wasn’t as if I had access to a range of professionals that could be there on short notice. Here, in Orange County, I can get ten people if I need to in an hour to help me do something. Up there, being in the middle of nowhere, what I loved was how everybody came together that worked there to help me with the actual design. For example, the girl who was the receptionist was gluing rope around beams and around pillars for me on install day. It was such a fun team effort and they were all so excited to be a part of it, just as I was. So, it was quite fun. Being there on site, seeing how organic it was (they did not want anything fancy)… it was just exactly what I was meant to do. Coming from the surf industry, my focus and what I was exposed to during that time translated into that project and seemed so easy for me.