Photography
Videography
Creative Direction
Companion
Curator

Credits

Photography
Videography
Creative Direction
Companion
Curator

Alex Proba in front of her painting, “Interdependence.”

Alex Proba in front of her painting, “Interdependence.”

Perched atop green hills and surrounded by Forest Park, you’ll find Alex Proba’s modern home.

The Portland-based artist and designer, well-known for her irreverent use of color and playful shapes, shares the space with her partner, Ian, and their dog, Sam. To no one’s surprise, Proba’s artistic tendencies make their way into every room of the house. Whether it’s a graphic, vibrant rug from her home line, Proba Home, or playful fake foods sprinkled around the main rooms surprising guests upon sight, fun and whimsy are fully allowed in this space—if not encouraged.

After years of working with teams at Kickstarter, Nike, and Mother, an NYC-based creative agency, the multi-hyphenate designer opened her studio, Studio Proba, in part due to the success and attention gained from her “Poster A Day” challenge. If you missed that era of Instagram, Proba began creating and sharing a poster design per day on her social feed, using it as a visual diary of sorts. Why take on such a rigorous challenge? “I used it as a tool to get over the fear of sharing my work.” This sentiment reflects Proba’s philosophy of creating and peeks through in other areas of her life story. From studying abroad in the U.S. as a teenager to transitioning through multiple careers and cities, the artist is no stranger to charting her own path. Now, under Studio Proba and Proba Home, she creates art installations, paints iconic murals in pools, designs homewares, and collaborates on exciting projects with renowned brands. Read on to learn more about her inspiring journey and stunning, lively space.

Alex’s Proba Home rugs and pillows add playful color and texture to a refined, neutral furniture base in the living room.

In the kitchen, fake bacon and eggs and a stack of well-loved cookbooks set the stage for a playful cooking environment.

How would you describe your path to becoming an artist and designer?

I’m originally from Germany, and my parents are from Poland. They escaped their home country to give us a better life. I never thought art was an option until I participated in a student exchange program that led me to Ohio when I was 15. My English wasn’t what it is now, but my host family was so welcoming. The family’s mother used to be a designer at DKNY in the late ’80s and early ’90s. They went to museums and were very creative. That was the first time I realized those types of careers existed. After that, I took many art classes but still thought art would need to be my hobby. When I got home, I assumed I would go to dentistry school, but it wasn’t for me. I secretly applied for design school, and the mother from my host family helped me put together my portfolio.

After school, I worked in Berlin for an architecture firm, which got me to New York, but I soon realized architecture was too slow for me. So, I decided to pursue graphic design and worked for General Assembly, Kickstarter, and Mother, a creative agency.

Proba Home pillows create a colorful sofascape.

Florals from a local favorite, Solabee Flowers & Botanicals.

Natural oak furniture provides a neutral backdrop for the color and texture Alex layers in accessories throughout the dining and living room.

“My favorite vases are hand-sculpted by my friend Robbie Frankel, BaleFire Glass. Each one is hand-sculpted and uniquely special.”

“My favorite vases are hand-sculpted by my friend Robbie Frankel, BaleFire Glass. Each one is hand-sculpted and uniquely special.”

Your “Poster A Day” project took off across Instagram. Where did the idea come from, and what was it like to see that response?

I started designing posters after work as an exercise to make sure I was doing something creative on my own. I would finish a design in 30 minutes or so and used it as a tool to lose the fear of sharing my work. Many of the posters were happy, funny, or cheeky in a way, often with dual meanings. I think that’s what probably caught people’s attention. It was like a visual diary for me. I received a lot of press from the series, and my follower count grew during that time. As I kept going, I would take suggestions and submissions and make designs based on what the community wanted to see. The “Poster A Day” series continued for over three years. It kickstarted many creative and unique opportunities that would eventually lead to me going out on my own.

Design details, decor, and sentimental objects brighten up the kitchen surfaces.

This woven rattan shape prototype is crafted by African artisans using traditional basketweaving techniques.

Cookware in Lavender and Blueberry.

Organizing open shelves with objects in complementary colors and tones keeps it clean.

When did Studio Proba come to be, and can you share more about how you branched out on your own?

I left Kickstarter as their Design Director and had plans to do my own thing after a furniture collaboration with my friends at the New York City-based studio, Bower, but a month later, I got a job at Nike I couldn’t turn down. It wasn’t until my murals started getting attention that I felt like I could do so much more on my own, so I took the plunge. It’s been three years since then.

You embrace color and playful shapes with ease. Where do you think you get those inclinations?

I always had a nice home growing up. My parents had decorated their house in the ‘80s, and everything was black and white. No color, though they’ve added one of my rugs since then. On the other hand, my grandmother was a florist, and we spent all day in the kitchen and garden together. She sewed and knit, and was the only source of creativity in my family. She essentially taught me color theory through her talents. I also credit my host mother, whose home was full of color. The living room had blue walls with handwritten poems all over from friends throughout the years. The whole kitchen was filled with pink furniture, while the dining room was all gold. They had bust statues all over, and it felt a bit like a museum—definitely, the most colorful house I’d seen and more colorful than even mine now.

My grandmother was a florist and we spent all day in the kitchen and garden together. She essentially taught me color theory through her talents.” —  Alex
What are some upcoming projects and collaborations for Studio Proba and Proba Home you’re excited to share?

I just finished a film set for a TV series launching in the fall, and I spent some time at Universal Studios in LA. That was amazing because I’ve never done that before. I’m headed to Miami to set up my installation during Art Basel and Design Miami. Proba Home recently released bath towels and other spa goods! Right before the pandemic, I started the charity arm of my practice called Little Proba. We do workshops with kids to help them create collages, and then I turn those collages into rugs. The rugs sell on Proba Home, and all proceeds go towards Save the Children. I’m also about to start working with the animal rescue where I got my dog, Sam. I want to keep giving back as I create new things going out into the world.

Watch the video
If you think of the foundation of a great space, what are the essential building blocks?

Light is so essential to a space, and you can see how important it is to me through the design of this house. Even when I lived in New York, that mattered a lot to me. It’s also about surrounding myself with things that I love. All my fake food items and things that hold memories make me feel like I'm home. And I have to mention color. I’d love to add more color to this house.

Colorful cabinets display work, art from friends and offer a unique surface to spark creativity.

Shape Table 01 prototype by Studio Proba.

Brushes at the ready when inspiration strikes.

“All my fake food items and things that hold memories make me feel like I'm home.”

“All my fake food items and things that hold memories make me feel like I'm home.”

Light-filled moments in the studio.

Light-filled moments in the studio.

Light is so essential to a space, and you can see how important it is to me through the design of this house.” —  Alex
Do you have any personal go-to staples or must-haves when it comes to furniture, objects, or brands?

I’ve wanted my couch forever. When I lived in a small apartment in the city, it would have never worked, so I had to wait. It’s the Connect Sofa by Muuto. I’d say my interior style is very European, so I gravitate more to brands from over there. I’m also always on the lookout during our travels. Whether we’re in Japan or Italy, for souvenirs that can act as a reminder of where we’ve been.

I’ll always be searching for the perfect _________.

I don’t think you’re expecting this, but I would say a washer and dryer. If our fridge wasn’t built-in, it would probably be a fridge. It’s hard to find well-designed utilitarian appliances. I’d love to see more of that.

Dream object. What is one piece you’d love to own someday?

I’ve had my eye on a lamp fixture from Lambert & Fils’s Sainte Collection for quite a while.

For many of her projects, Alex starts with color palettes and lets color drive the emotion and feeling of each piece.

For many of her projects, Alex starts with color palettes and lets color drive the emotion and feeling of each piece.

Selecting fabric swatches for a textile project.

Selecting fabric swatches for a textile project.

What are some of your most-loved rituals or routines when you’re at home?

We take our dog, Sam, out for walks on the nearby trails around our house. I think many of my patterns and pieces are inspired by nature, so this is a good exercise for me.

What were your first impressions of Portland, and when did it start to feel like home?

I never had any concept of Portland before I got here, but it’s a beautiful place. The proximity to water and the coast, as well as the mountains, makes it ideal. I’m not a big city person, so it will never be London or New York for me in the end. There are parts of Portland that feel a little like Brooklyn, and that’s always been more my vibe.

I think a lot of my patterns and pieces are inspired by nature, so walking on the paths around my home is good exercise for me.” —  Alex
If your home was a scent, how would the fragrance smell?

Like my mom, she has a very specific smell. It’s clean and calming, like fresh laundry that’s been air drying in Tuscany. When she washes my clothes when I visit them in Germany, I’ll come home and still smell like my mom—that’s the best thing ever.

Favorite candle?

Loving our Proba Home Form Shape candles. I also really love the candle duos by Natascha Madeiski.

It’s Friday night. What’s on your playlist?

Black Pumas

Sunday morning?

Silence

A BaleFire glass vase paired with candles in complementary colors—including one of Alex’s Form candle prototypes—set the table.

Glassware is a fun and low commitment way to bring color into your space. It also makes sipping more fun.

You’re going to a housewarming party. You’re likely bringing _______ as a gift.

A bouquet of flowers.

Dream dinner party guests?

Oh yeah. It sounds really weird, but Max Minghella who plays “Nick” on Handmaid's Tale.

If friends are coming in for 36 hours to Portland, do you have a “must-see” list?

The coast. The mountains. And Forest Park, where I live.

Alex’s Design Tips—

Minimal design and a neutral foundation can be an inspiring canvas for playing with color.

Sentimental items, especially those picked up while traveling, breathe personality into your space.

Alex’s Portland Guide—

Providore Fine FoodsA gourmet market with all the specialty items that make at-home cooking delightful.

Forest Park — Hike through the lush neighborhood that rests right above the city proper.

Solabee Flowers & Botanicals — Create a unique bouquet at this urban floral mecca.

Want to see more of Alex’s home?
Explore all scenes on her profile