FOR MINIMALIST DESIGNERS, clean lines and a simplistic palette are de rigeur. Yet Natasha Esch, owner of the rustic minimalist boutique MONC XIII, started her career with a strong aversion to white. Call it youthful rebellion or not, it started with her mother. “I was very influenced by my mom, who is first-generation Croatian. Her aesthetic is quite minimal and white is her color. When I first started out, I had an antipathy to all that was minimal and white. But my career in the world of design and retail has brought me back full circle to where I started in terms of inspiration.” Austere beauty, function and craftsmanship define Esch’s design philosophy. As the owner and curator of the Sag Harbor home furnishings boutique, she travels the world in order to find items that meet her aesthetic qualifications.
Esch has been cosmopolitan since birth: she was raised near Frankfurt and attended high school in Switzerland. When she was 18, her family moved to the U.S. and she studied business at Babson College in Boston. During this time her parents acquired Wilhelmina Models, where she interned for a number of years before becoming the company’s youngest president at 21. “Once I started working for the modeling agency, I met a lot of creative people—fashion stylists, makeup artists, photographers—that made careers out of their passion,” recalled Esch. “That was the impetus for me to pursue interior design. I liked fashion but home was always the thing that I loved.”
Upon moving to Los Angeles, she spent 12 years running her eponymous interior design firm with a client roster that included music executives and celebrities. After marrying Internet entrepreneur Matt Coffin, the couple decided they’d like to raise a family on the East Coast and the Hamptons fit the bill.
Following two years of renovations, MONC XIII was born in 2012, and it is decidedly a family affair. Matt runs the store’s website and the name itself is an acronym for Matt, Orchid (daughter), Natasha and Coffin, with XIII representing son Sky’s birthdate. Located in a 2,400-sq. ft. historic building, MONC XIII is filled with limited edition furniture, lighting fixtures and luxury home accessories ranging from 18th century to modern times. For Esch, it’s all about a worldly perspective, mid-century furniture, ceramics and backgammon.
How is travel integral to your work?
It’s essential to the creative spirit. Whether I’m on a buying trip or a family vacation, it inspires me to see things in a different context. My last trip was a family excursion to Rome where we went to a travertine quarry to see how the stone was excavated. Seeing things like this will have an impact on my creativity in some way.
Which signature accessories exemplify MONC’s eclectic aesthetic?
We have a line of rustic candles by a French company called Mad et Len, which is hard to find in the States. It’s packaged beautifully in homemade black, iron canisters and people really love the essential oil-infused scents. On a high-end level, we’ve become known for handcrafted, leather backgammon boards by Geoffrey Parker. The English company offers some interesting color combinations. It’s very MONC specific due to my passion for the game and the annual backgammon tournaments we host.
Anything new you’ve acquired that you’re particularly fond of?
Over the last year and a half, I’ve started bringing unique ceramics to the Hamptons. Whether it’s KH Wurtz, the father and son team from Copenhagen, or Irving Place Studio in Los Angeles, there’s a sense of craftsmanship and natural beauty in these one-of-a-kind pieces. Inspired by the mid-century pottery movement, the textured bowls, plates and cups are functional art.