JUST NORTH OF ALBUQUERQUE’S hopping Sawmill District and historic Old Town, verdant agricultural and lavender fields abound. That’s where interior designer and curator Lisa Fontanarosa makes her home and keeps her boutique, Jo’s Farms.
With parents born in Sicily and Naples, Italy, Fontanarosa has been traveling to Europe since she was 14. She started gathering treasures for her shop and her design clients while building relationships with artists in the late 1990s—connections that eventually helped her to style renowned boutiques like Henri Bendel, on New York City’s Fifth Avenue, and Colette, in Paris. “Travel led me to want to find things that are made by hand and tell a story,” she says. “You can feel the human connection.”
During the pandemic, Fontanarosa renovated a 200-year-old adobe casita on her Río Grande Boulevard property to create a shop. “It really combines all my passions and everything I love: art, styling, designs, flowers, all in one beautiful, light-filled space,” she says. “People can discover collections from Europe and shop all over the world without a passport.”
French Marans chickens meander outside the shop. Whitewashed interior walls make an ideal backdrop for Fontanarosa’s colorful collection of sage-green glass vases, wire chicken sculptures, miniature dress forms, and intricate textiles. Crystal-accented wire chandeliers by French artist Marie Christophe (one of her creations hangs in a Dior shop in Paris) decorate the ceiling, and colorful wax-perfume bottles hang from lengths of twine.
Arrangements of dried flowers, lavender sachets, and silk pillows show Fontanarosa’s customers how to live with these gems in their own homes. “Textiles are the herb and spice of design for your home,” she says.
Four kinds of lavender—Grosso, Provence, Hidcote, and Munstead—grow on a half-acre plot behind the shop. When it blooms, she invites the community to a you-pick event each July.
Having lived in New Mexico for more than 25 years, Fontanarosa can always find something here to make her happy to return home from her travels. “It’s the light, the landscape, blue sky, you can see the stars. It’s the culture and the people,” she says. “It’s very magical.”