Monday, September 19, 2011


Judith in one of her ensembles for her wedding three years ago, combining a Harley Davidson leather jacket and bespoke separates. 

We are back from our adventures in the Alps and I find my mind and imagination wandering back to the postcard-perfect scenery, the art we saw and reflecting on the hours we spent talking about design; especially with my friend Judith Hillebrand. Judith has an active interior architecture practice, is a modern furniture and art collector and has great personal style. She, her husband and their six-year-old son live in a contemporary manse overlooking the Rhine River.

Doing much more than simply decorating, she gives deep thought and feeling to make her home creative, alive and comfortable for her family and friends. Judith loves it when she hears from children that they like her house. She knows she is doing something right. It was inspiring and energizing for me to be surrounded by so many artful objects curated by Judith's expert eye.

The Living Room

The Living Room, a few days later

Sitting Area

Judith makes it work: An Italian Cafe Racer, a collection of antique medicine balls, a Memphis bookshelf and an original "Joe" baseball glove chair.

View of the Rhine from the living room window, with Matt's sculpture "Roadblock". 

Judith is currently designing a large home for a client in Wiesbaden and she shared a few of her thoughts on the design process.

BV: How do you begin a project?

Judith: When I start working on a project, I come with no concept. That's important. My father is German and my mother is Italian, so I have two cultures. This is the way I walk in my life, I don't have just one way of seeing design. My idea is to bring different things together. 

BV: How do you approach a client?

Judith: When I meet with a client I get in contact with my feeling for the person and the space. In German homes the first door is the toilet and the second door is the kitchen. That's not interesting. Instead I ask the client 'What is your culture?', 'What do you like to eat?', 'What music do you like?' I'm not here to bring a house to the client. I'm here to walk with them to their new home. It's perfect when I see the look in my client's eyes and see that suddenly they realize all the possibilities. 

Judith's model for a section of the house she is currently designing. 

BV: What is the design process like for you?

Judith: When I am working it's like I'm flying. The concept comes in my head, down my arm and through my fingers to the pencil and paper. This feeling is so important to me. I feel free when I have a sheet of white paper. 

Judith on the shopping street in Mainz. 
Judith approaches dressing in a similar manner. She combines her design skills with her intuition and shops for what feels good and fun. She has the courage and confidence to live in that space of not knowing, always trusting that the ideas will come. She says sometimes she has no concept when she starts to get dressed, sometimes she starts just with the earrings she feels like wearing and goes from there.  

Dressed for marketing in Mainz

"Real style is when you know in your heart what is right for you. When you don't have fun with a certain dress, then it's a bad dress. It's not important to have the new thing, but it is important to have the right thing for you. Knowing your style is where you are in life. It gives you a lot of space and freedom."

Sexy shoes that Judith wears only at home. 

One night after dinner, Judith poured cordial glasses of a chilled pale yellow liquid for us. I tasted it and it was divine. It was her homemade Crema di Limoncello. She generously shared her recipe and said I could include it in Bien Vestido as it is a representation of who she is. I agree; earthy yet delicate, sweet and complex, a little makes you want more and it packs a punch!

Judith's Crema di Limoncello
(with adjustments for US measurements)

1 liter 80% alcohol (or 750 ml bottle of Everclear, 75.5% alcohol)
12 organic lemons
2 liters milk (or 6 cups whole milk)
1.2 kilos organic sugar (or 3 3/4 cups organic sugar)
2 cm vanilla bean (or 1 inch of vanilla bean)

Peel lemons in strips, do not include any of the pith. Put peels in alcohol and place in a dark spot for 48 hours. 

Add the vanilla bean to the milk and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, add sugar and stir until dissolved.

When sugar is dissolved, take off the heat and cool to room temp. Mix in the alcohol. Strain and pour into bottles. Keep in fridge or freezer.


  1. I especially love that dress she wears for marketing!

  2. A beautiful home and a place children love to visit, what a woman. (After visitng these lovely, perfect homes please don't look too closely at ours when you visit.)