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Lulu LaFortune on Building Pieces That Last

Los Angeles designer Lulu LaFortune believes in creating furniture pieces that serve a purpose. In her work, she highlights classic hand-crafted techniques while still creating items that speak to the modern world. Squarespace had the chance to touch base with the designer to learn more about her mission, her work during the pandemic, and how staying at home has influenced the way in which people approach decor decisions.

SQUARESPACE: Lulu LaFortune Limited is a brand “dedicated to designing your next heirloom.” How does this mission influence your work?

Lulu LaFortune: The mission to design your next heirloom influences my work in many ways. First and foremost an item does not last in someone's life unless the piece is functional. Each item I design must carry a purpose that allows an owner to build a connection with, that may be the purpose of bringing joy or convenient storage, that’s for the owner to decide. While researching this concept I interviewed many individuals about why they had kept items of their parents or why they had passed down items to their children. All of the answers involved the person having strong memories around each piece. An example of this is a woman who owns her grandfather's desk, the desktop is completely worn down from where her grandfather played cards every night. Another example is a woman who kept a side table that her and her brother used to hide under as kids and carved their initials under. It is stories like these and so many others that inspire me to design furniture and objects that are built to last a lifetime. 

SQSP: Since the start of the pandemic, many people have found themselves staying home more than ever. As a designer, do you feel that the pieces people select for their space can affect their moods?

LL: I strongly think that the items in your space affect your mood. While we are all spending so much time at home it is important to surround yourself with things that bring you joy and happiness especially during times of uncertainty. I feel like that is why so many people are beginning to collect objects again or decorate in a more maximal style. We as humans tend to hold on to items that remind us of memories or certain times in our lives. I have had the designs of my most recent furniture collection finalized for more than a year now but when the world went into lockdown and everyone began staying at home I felt more and more that it was important to advertise the joy that these pieces are meant to bring. This is how the collections title came to be. And I will say, it is simply impossible for this stained glass lamp to not bring you joy. It lights up an entire room! 

SQSP: In your “Joie De Vivre” collection, the pieces reflect your dedication to craftsmanship while still maintaining a sense of joy. How did you approach your design process to ensure that both elements would remain intact? 

LL: When I approached the design process I had already established the craftsmen that I would be working with. By already knowing the craftsman I was able to trust that their knowledge of craft would be strong enough to bring my designs to life. Because of that I was able to meet and discuss how each piece was going to be made without ever compromising my vision of the collection.

SQSP: 2020 was a difficult time for so many people. With everything that’s been going on, have you still been able to find time to create?

LL: It was actually because of the quarantine that I had time to create. It has been a nonstop time in my life but when Covid-19 hit the United States I was furloughed. While this is never ideal and it was certainly scary at the beginning, it provided me with the time to bring my daydream into reality. It was also wonderful timing because it felt great to support the craftsman that had many other projects get put on hold due to the uncertainty of the times.

SQSP: As online shopping continues to be the preference of many, what steps are you taking to ready your ecommerce store?

LL: I have recently read an amazing article about supporting small shops as opposed to big box companies since quarantine has hit those stores the hardest. With this in mind, I was pleased to see that Instagram made their shop feature more identifiable within the app. Because of this new priority within the interface I have linked my Squarespace website ecommerce store to instagram, allowing for my items to be seen on the newly installed shopping page.

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