Photos by Madeline Tolle
Diana Ryu is the founder of Namu Home Goods, a line of gallery-quality home decor and statement pieces from traditional Korean woodworkers. Diana brings a career in editorial and a Korean-American lens to curation, selecting heritage pieces that function beautifully in contemporary spaces, and reflect the natural world.
She is also a dear friend, who has supported Emme from her earliest days working towards her own line. Now an entrepreneur herself, Diana has experienced a shift in how she approaches work, home, and her personal aesthetic.
We asked her how she would style the Diana sandal, which was named for her.
How would you describe your style?
My style changed completely last year. Pre-Covid I would wear tailored separates and lots of high-waisted jeans. This past year I’ve only worn loose dresses. My style feels more feminine now.
Can you tell us about your homeware brand Namu Home Goods, and what led you to create it?
I launched Namu Home Goods in April. Namu means “tree” in Korean and we carry heritage pieces to be passed down for generations. It’s gallery-quality woodwork from Korea that is perfectly imperfect, delicate, and refined.
I went through a really tough season last year. I was functioning, but not quite present. My therapist suggested I think of a symbol to represent what I wanted to be. My first thought was a tree – strong and wise. A tree will endure a bitter winter, knowing that spring is just around the corner. A tree doesn’t let a season dictate its life and continues to grow every day little by little. I love wood home decor, but in the States, the decor feels rustic or farmhouse. That style never resonated with me so I went in search of woodwork that makes my heart sing.
Who is currently inspiring you? Sartorially, culturally, or otherwise?
I’m inspired by my husband Joseph Lee constantly. He is an artist and actor and I admire how much he is in love with his art and work.
I’m also inspired by the wonderful Asian-American entrepreneurs that support me and cheer me on. Emme is one of them.
How would you style the Diana sandal, your name sake?
Emme Parsons sandals are the most versatile shoes I own. They’re occasion-less – I’ve worn them to the pool, to gallery openings, and to weddings. I wear the Diana Sandal in Antique Gold with an all-cream look – wide trousers and a crisp poplin top. The slight sheen on the sandal makes it work with so much of my closet – from browns, creams, beiges, grays, and black.
Guilty or not so guilty pleasure?
Redfin. I am obsessed and have checked it every day for the past 3, even though we bought our home in 2019. Our agent suggested I try real estate because I had so much fun looking at/searching for houses.
What is your process when curating and looking for objects to add to your space?
Home is my sanctuary – I like to hear the birds and the breeze in the leaves. I look for objects that feel like they’re of the earth – organic shapes, colors and textures. Our furniture is very functional, so I add earthiness back into our space with décor. Wood warms up a space and I like to think these pieces are still alive – they crack and change and age with us.
Favorite meal to cook for friends?
The last meal I cooked for a group was breakfast – Shakshuka with some good charred bread. We ate it outside in the shade of our Pineapple Guava tree – a perfect way to spend an early weekend morning.
Best kept secret in Los Angeles?
There’s a teeny tiny nursery near our house called Plant Material. They have the best little shop. We bought our serpent tree there and every single person who sees it asks us about it.
One of the best parks in L.A. is Ascot Hills Park in El Sereno. I walk our dog Stella there every day. It’s beautiful.
Favorite gift to give?
Recently it’s been cookies – earl gray shortbread cookies. I’m just starting to get into baking. It’s so precise.
Favorite gift to receive?
We’ve gotten a lot of ceramics as gifts – we have many talented friends who throw clay. We feel very, very lucky about that.