Christensen Lives Life By Design
Georgia Christensen retired from Neiman Marcus a couple of years ago and now lives in Edom where she runs her own design consulting business from her country home.
Imagine daily life swirling with high fashion, art, runway models, photographers, and bold magazine covers. A world filled with a continuous flow of ideas that help create the distinctive design that makes department store Neiman Marcus — in high-rise, bustling downtown Dallas — a household name synonymous with luxury and lavish lifestyles.
Now, imagine daily life in a small rural East Texas town surrounded by vast rolling hills of thick green grass and massive trees, dotted with cows and chickens and occasional herds of wild pigs.
The contrast is not lost on former Neiman Marcus marketing director Georgia Christensen — in fact, it’s a well-designed work of art.
She and her husband Chris made the move to Edom, Texas, after leaving her corporate career in 2017.
“I wanted a change and we decided to pursue a dream we’ve had for many years — live on some land in the country,” Christensen says.
Georgia Christensen was born in 1958, a fourth generation Dentonite, with two older brothers.
Her mother, Vera Davidson Laney, worked in the Denton County Clerk’s office until her retirement in 1991. Her father, William Roland Laney III was born and raised in Denton. He had his own architecture practice in Denton during the 1960’s. It was during this time that he designed several residences and commercial buildings in Denton and worked in partnership with architect O’Neil Ford on several significant projects including the Denton Civic Center, Denton City Hall, and Fairhaven, a retirement home. He then worked for international architecture firm Harwood K. Smith and Partners for 25 years.
Though she didn’t know it at the time, her father’s work made a big impact on how she sees the world.
“My childhood home was designed by my father and sat amongst a series of identical tract homes. Needless to say, our house and how it was furnished didn’t look like anyone else’s house. It wasn’t until I was in college that I truly appreciated how special our home was. Before then, I yearned for wall-to-wall shag carpet to replace our gleaming hard wood floors with sheepskin rugs. And while our living room was populated with Eames chairs, long day beds that my father designed, walls of floor-to-ceiling cream draperies, and marble slab floating shelves, I coveted the Ethan Allen furniture that furnished friend’s homes.”
That desire to be like all the other kids in the neighborhood eventually went away.
“I now treasure that environment as it completely informed my view about design.”
In contrast to her city life in Denton, Christensen enjoyed summers on her grandmother’s farm.
“Mornings were spent doing outdoor chores or running errands then coming inside for lunch and a nap,” she fondly recalls. “In the afternoon, we would clean up, pile on the talcum powder and then tackle afternoon indoor projects on her screened porch where she taught me to sew on a treadle sewing machine.”
From the time she was a small child, Christensen knew she would grow up to do something in a creative field. She was in her teens when she began to get a better sense of what that might be.
“The marketing bug bit me when I was in high school working at the Shoe Shack, a clothing and shoe store in Denton. The owner allowed me to design the window displays and I witnessed how the design influenced customers and drove action.”
From there, her first job after graduating from college gave her the opportunity she credits with shaping her career.
“It was a very small design firm focused on luxury mail order catalogs. I was exposed to a whole new world and level of sophistication.”
Designing and producing the catalogs soon broadened to the creative arm of marketing for fashion retail and ultimately to her position as Vice President Creative Director for Neiman Marcus.
Pairing a spiked shoe with a black balloon for a Neiman Marcus photo shoot is the kind of creativity that keeps her in demand.
Since moving to Edom, Christensen continues to help others with design projects through her own business, GLC&Co. Design. She’s currently cataloging an extensive art collection for a client with homes in Dallas and Santa Fe.
“I’ve established a database for the inventory of art and have also created coffee table books that feature the artwork. The books are truly a reflection of her, her philosophy on collecting art, her art, and her homes.”
A coffee table book of a client’s art collection is one of her recent projects.
Christensen works from the country estate in Edom that she and her husband share which includes 12 acres of luscious land frequently visited by deer and other friendly critters. Their home is an elegant, energy-efficient, modern farmhouse with concrete floors and traces of their creativity on every wall, furniture grouping, and counter top. They enjoy watching nature’s “zoo” and often entertain friends and family from all over the country as well as new friends they’ve made in Edom.
She says the thing she loves most about living here is their new circle of friends.
“These individuals are smart, talented, open minded, and very fun. We treasure them.”
They try to get together with them each week for “Sunday Suppers.”
“We all gather for dinner and catch up with everyone. It’s a lovely experience.”
Besides finding a meaningful social circle, Christensen didn’t hesitate to dive right in to community service.
“I’m very active in the Edom Area Chamber of Commerce and on the board of the Van Zandt Arts & Cultural District Foundation.”
Projects where she can use her creative mind are where she excels, noting graphics, interiors, landscapes, events, and many other forms she enjoys shaping into beautiful design.
She has redesigned Edom’s website to better highlight its art and creative nature to lure visitors to come experience the town. Earlier this year, she and a team of coworkers created the first Art of Food & Wine Long Table Dinner, a successful event that brought people from around Texas and beyond to experience the artists shops and enjoy local food and wine.
As Vice President of the Van Zandt Arts & Cultural District Foundation she frequently serves as a consultant on projects from art fairs to arts education for children, as well as destination tourism.
Her greatest achievement Christensen says is her marriage and children. She and Chris are into their 35th year of marriage. He is a photographer who spent more than 30 years in Dallas in the commercial photography industry with a focus on aviation, food, and jewelry.
It’s no surprise to learn their two children inherited their parents’ creative talent.
“Our oldest, Lizzy, is a fashion designer in New York City where she previously headed up women’s design for Everlane and has recently joined an exciting new start-up that focuses on sustainability.
“Our son, William, earned his master’s degree in cinematography from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles where he is now living and pursuing both commercial and narrative projects. His most recent project was the commercials for the 2019 Emmy Awards.”
Christensen says her immediate future includes extended visits with her children and she wants to get back to an old hobby — oil painting.
“I want to start painting and creating art again,” she says. “I began painting when we lived in Connecticut and fell in love with it. When we moved back to Texas I sadly broke the cycle and allowed other things to make their way onto my list of ‘to do’s.’ I’m taking a painting class and I’m hoping this will kick-start me again.”
Diving in to creative projects is a way of life for Christensen, and especially important after a time of distress she experienced a few years ago.
“It was a series of life’s greatest challenges — moving across country, losing parents and a sibling, illness, and job changes to name a few — packed into five short years. It was simply a matter of waking up each morning and putting one foot in front of the other.”
Good advice coming from someone whose very nature allows her to constantly see positive solutions.
“As a designer, I’m continually focused on improving things. The world is moving so fast now, that it seems that teaching quality design and originality (regardless of the media) is going to the wayside, which makes me very sad.”
Always the consultant, she offers sage advice for those just starting their careers.
“Think big and reach for the stars while also giving yourself time. Time to learn your craft and develop life skills — those things only come with time. Each informs the other. The world is more competitive today than it ever has been and I see many individuals expecting to be the vice president by the time they are 27. You need time to learn your craft as well as the skills to effectively interact with colleagues and successfully reach a goal. That, and a good dose of humility, is what makes great leaders.”
Christensen says she developed a list of life philosophies more than 30 years ago that remain on her bulletin board today that includes making mistakes and learning from them, shooting for total quality and not shaving standards, listening to understand, and not being afraid of breaking things — it’s the first step in the creative process.
Most importantly, her goal is to have fun and enjoy the moment while making life better by design.