The swathe of bucolic idyll that former creative director Richard Christiansen has carved out for himself on a hilltop in Los Angeles is truly the stuff of dreams. Anchored by a 1940s bungalow that Christiansen has lovingly reimagined to encompass a picturesque bathhouse and seven acres of verdant garden, Flamingo Estate is now as well known for its collections of vegetable-based candles, plant-scented bath and body products and its cornucopic boxes of farm-fresh produce as it is for its unbelievably stylish environs.

Kelly Wearstler California Modernist gingerbread house for Flamingo Estate

Christiansen’s ethos of bringing people back in touch with the beauty and bounty of nature couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Flamingo Estate’s home-delivered produce boxes came out of efforts to support local farmers whose traditional revenue streams of supplying restaurants and hotels came to a standstill in March 2020.

That then lead to the use of medicinal herbs to build out Flamingo Estate’s wellness line, the development of its first bottle of rosé wine, and then the launch of its own biointensive manuka honey – an especially significant product for Christiansen, seeing as his family are farmers and beekeepers in New South Wales, Australia.

In the lead-up to the holiday season, Christiansen has revealed some festive offerings that are bound to astound even the most jaded of bah humbuggers. First, there is Flamingo Estate’s inaugural cookbook, Fridays from The Garden, which compiles 150 recipes from chefs including Ella Murphy, Jo Ann Kim, and a foreword by Martha Stewart; the book essentially charts the arc of Flamingo Estate since its early days. Next, a limited-edition gingerbread house designed by Flamingo Estate’s close collaborator and comrade Kelly Wearstler.

Kelly Wearstler’s California Modern gingerbread house

Kelly Wearstler and Richard Christiansen
Kelly Wearstler and Richard Christiansen with their California-style gingerbread house

California Modern in its aesthetic, the eye-catching gingerbread house is built by Balthazar’s pastry chef Mark Tasker, and only 100 will be made. Best of all, proceeds from the sale of the houses, which don’t come cheap, will benefit Structure, a charitable initiative of Better Shelter that helps communities rebuild, with sustainable housing, for example, following the occurrence of natural disasters.

‘After the year we’ve all had, it’s time for new traditions. We loved the idea of taking something iconic, and classic – then giving it a California spin,’ says Christiansen. ‘Kelly’s the reigning queen of the design world in Los Angeles. She’s the only person I wanted to collaborate with because I knew she would create something iconic, and bold. When I mentioned the idea, she jumped at it immediately, and she created something very special.’ He adds that the brief was simply: ‘Let’s build a type of gingerbread house we would actually like to live in.’

Gngerbread house in kitchen with two dogs

‘Gingerbread houses are one of the most traditional holiday items and so I wanted to give a contemporary feel to the classic treat,’ Wearstler says. ‘I also wanted to bring a little California into the design, so I was drawn to a classic midcentury modern home as a source of inspiration. The gingerbread base is the ideal canvas and is really elevated and accentuated by the checkerboard pattern.’

Christiansen concludes, ‘Central to everything we do at Flamingo Estate is the idea of bringing pleasure in your home. Whether that’s through your kitchen or bathroom. So when we started to think about the right charity, we wanted it to be for the home – and providing homes for people.’ §