Image: Josephine Rozman, Helena Okvist (Mexico home)
Guided by wanderlust and an artful eye, this renowned interior and product designer brings a global sensibility to all she creates.
Every artist has that moment: the one where a creation takes form and reinforces the direction he or she is meant to follow. For Laura Kirar, it took place at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied sculpture and interior architecture. “Before I knew it, I was making sculptures that were electrified and illuminated, and they eventually became sconces,” she says.
The intrepid designer went on to craft pieces for the likes of Holly Hunt and Ralph Lauren Home. Now she is the founder and creative director of her own design firm, has product licences with four Kohler brands and still takes time to wander the world in search of inspiration.
The free-spirited designer has a live-work loft in Brooklyn, N.Y., that epitomizes her worldly, industrial chic style; it’s spilling with an eclectic mix of prototypes that never made it, vintage pieces, artifacts found while travelling and more. “It feels very personal. It’s very artistic,” says Laura. Her artful aesthetic is also reflected in her second home, a once-abandoned hacienda near the Mexican city of Mérida, which she and her husband decided to transform. While staying there, the designer works with local artisans to create everything from furniture to jewellery. “When I can see an artist’s hand in the piece, that’s what gets me most excited,” she says.
Conceptual drawings, travel photography and vibrant fabric swatches adorn Laura’s studio. Here, we see the beginning stage of her geometric Francis armchair for Baker.
From the modest mullioned windows in her colourful Mexican abode to the more elaborate arrangement seen in a New York City home she designed, Laura’s style is recognized worldwide. “My designs are a combination of different influences,” says the designer. “They resonate with many different cultures.”
Vibrant paintings hang above a chic Mid-Century day-bed in Laura’s loft.
“I’m in a really intensely creative period in my career,” says Laura. “I think it’s my level of travel. I’m a sponge, from seeing new things to meeting new people to taking in new smells.” Mexico’s Mayan ruins, for instance, have been translated into her furniture designs. “I’ve started creating pieces that have lower proportions – that are bigger, chunkier,” she says. “It’s more about the horizon, as opposed to being pretty and perched. Everything is more planted. I feel that’s what people want right now. We want stability, especially at home.”
“Occasionally you need to create something for the person who has everything,” says Laura of this statement seat. “It’s a chair fit for an art collector.” With intricate leather fringe detailing, the hand-crafted piece takes several weeks to complete.
An undisputed classic, the Kallista Vir Stil vanity Laura designed can be customized to fit any scheme. Seen here in crisp white with a honed marble top, as well as in a larger walnut style, each brings forth a completely different yet equally timeless aesthetic.