In conversation with Lennart Lauren
An interview with Leannart & Lauren of furniture design studio, Lennart Lauren
One of the more recent furniture studios we got to work with is Lennart Lauren. Set up by the Leerdam brothers back in 2017, Lennart and Lauren have developed a beautiful collection of pieces, which stand proud alone or as a group within a space.
Growing up in the very picturesque city of Deventer, Netherlands (worth a google, it’s gorgeous!), they went on to study Graphic Design (Lauren) and Marketing (Lennart) before they both applied for Design Academy in Eindhoven.
Much of the collection draws upon timeless classic forms. The manufacturing process of their Paperthin range draws inspiration from the traditional tin can, resulting in a robust yet lightweight timeless design for both the stool and the bench.
Working on both their own projects and product design, they are also keen collaborators and have been commissioned to work with clients to develop bespoke pieces.
Lennart Lauren’s studio is gaining a reputation for being synonymous for clever detailing with clear function.
As a fellow dog-friendly studio, let’s get stuck into the Q&A…
Hello Lennart, Hello Lauren, welcome to M&M stories! Can you tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and how and when you both realized you’d like to set up your studio together?
Lennart -The idea of having our own design studio together was something that has grown during our final years at the academy.
Eventually, we started our studio back in 2017 at the same time Lauren was graduating.
A little sooner than expected but it was the perfect transition for myself after my own graduation in 2016.
Lauren – During our time at the Academy we worked on a few projects together, I think these were the moments that we realized that it was working quite well.
We saw more and more of each other strengths and how our qualities complemented each other.
Now that we are few years further on, I can say that this was definitely the right move.
Not only business-wise but also on a personal level, it is a really nice journey that we are experiencing together.
Are each of your roles clearly defined and how do you divide the business side and the creative side to your practice?
Lennart – Yes and No? We always try to divide our work by focusing on our strengths.
However, a creative process is never the same and especially in the early stages of a new project you have to give yourself the freedom of expression.
This sometimes ensures that you do things that the other person may be better at.
But that’s ok of course! It’s important for us to be all-rounders in a small and creative company.
Also in terms of finding the right balance between the business and creative side, there is a clear division of roles when it comes to this.
In practice, I am more responsible for the business aspect and Lauren for the creative.
But in the end, we, of course, share everything and never make a final decision without the other.
Lauren – For me, it feels like the creative part is the heart of our company.
On one side there is the business part which Lennart is doing more of and on the other side the practical part which I am working on most of the time.
This means more working on 3d modelling on the computer and the technical aspect of every product.
In terms of our In-house production, we share the same qualities but even then we have our own roles in line with our personal preferences.
Sometimes we also have a freelancer for a specific role within a project, but if there are changes that we could make ourselves… We will try this first!
This will probably have something to do with being in control of every aspect when it comes to our self-initiated projects 🙂
Or it really needs to be fully outsourced, which we often have with commissioned projects. Then it’s fine too!
What or who inspires you the most? Have your sources of inspiration changed throughout the years?
Lennart – In my daily and personal life, it always comes from unexpected moments and people I didn’t know before.
I absolutely love it when my prejudices are crushed by someone or something.
It keeps me eager and focused to always stay open to my surroundings.
Concerning our work, it’s a different story, we share a common interest in the technique and methodology behind our physical surroundings.
And this is also reflected in our work; most of our self-initiated projects starts from this interest.
Lauren – I am always inspired by what’s on the inside, how does it work and could it work differently? Especially with our everyday objects, they all have a unique something (hidden) inside.
Over the years I also realized more and more not to look so much at other designs as an example.
Focusing more on a specific detail as a starting point could lead to many interesting insights instead of just; “design a chair”.
This way of working also contributes to a stronger personal signature in your work.
How important is it to showcase your designs to the general public in events like the London Design Fair?
Lennart – It’s that moment you finally can show your creation to the world and hopefully share that feeling of proudness and joy.
Business-wise it is a lifeline for our projects. This is something we clearly see from the shown interest and sales afterwards
We also need the exposure to let people get familiar with our studio and the quality of our designs.
If you work with physical products it is so important to give your audience that real-time experience.
Lauren – We are not really working in a design culture in our hometown, so our own little design island feels pretty nice for how we like to work.
But even then we need our moments of reflection and a good discussion with our fellow design colleagues.
Going abroad to events like the LDF makes this even better, new faces, new work, different backgrounds etc.
So yeah, very important on different levels!
Who would you most like to collaborate with be it a worldwide brand or a person and why?
Lennart – Pff, difficult to choose from!
But I think I would choose a worldwide brand at this moment in our career.
It must be a wonderful challenge given the potential size of such a project and not to forget how nice it is to have your work presented all over the world.
Lauren – I agree!
But if I don’t have to think about our company or any strategic move, I would love to work with “Naef Spiele” once.
A childhood dream…
How do you see the future of furniture design and the profession, and if there was one thing you could change about it now, what would it be?
Lennart – We already see a shift in our design environment in terms of product and furniture design where products get more and more subordinate to the story behind it.
An interesting change and definitely one that speaks to the mind. However, this also creates a lot of unfinished end-products in my opinion.
Lauren – Picture perfect designs in our growing digital world.
But then you see it in real life with so many design flaws that it almost hurts…
They should be more in balance I believe.
Yes, we both have a clear preference for product design that is perfectly finished 🙂
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Lennart – Keep moving in any direction if you get stuck in the process!
Lauren – Don’t be scared to take a step back. Even if you are almost finishing your design, try to go back a few steps and rethink the essence of your work. (No this is not always easy or fun to do).
What can we expect from you in the future? Can you share with us some of your visions or goals?
Lennart – At this moment the future is still uncertain.
Due to the corona outbreak, we have a lot of assignments that are (temporarily) on hold and almost every physical design exhibition is postponed to 2021.
Fortunately, this gives us more time to start some new and self-initiated projects.
Lauren – We are expanding some of our single products to a product family and we are working on a larger scale production for one of our existing projects.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Lennart – Working on my old and small town house and if I’m lucky enough some football in the background.
And if the weather is great I’d love to be on the water with friends and go for some surfing.
Lauren – A lot! But it’s always about doing something physical and if it’s possible also outside:
Water sports, working or driving on my motorcycle, ball sports or just walking in nature with my dog.
Especially the last one is great during this time of the year in Deventer (NL).
Define your creative process in five words.
Lennart – Research, sketching, discuss (friendly but not always) modelling and detailing.
Mostly in that order…
Lauren – Detailing, enlarge, failing, making, finishing.