Nikolai Lafuge & Nicole Herman Lafuge
GLB: How long have you lived in your space ?
Nicole: Since the summer of 2014
GLB: What do you do? Or what industry are you in?
Nikolai: We have a design studio together. We do interiors, architecture, and landscape design. We also design and make products like furniture and lighting.
GLB: What makes this space “home?”
Nicole: We have designed and made almost everything in it. It’s been a labor of love over the years and we keep continuing to make changes to the space. It has become such a reflection of us and feels so personal.
GLB: What are 3 things in your home that you can’t live without?
Nicole: Ok first thing…this may seem so bizarre but our friend Jacqi got us these wood tweezers to get bread out of the toaster and I think it is the most useful tool in the world that I would never think to buy. We use it every day. Second would be our backyard hammock from Brazil. When I lay in it, it makes me feel like I’m on vacation. And then my sewing machine. I feel happy when I use it and am making something new.
Nikolai: My gardening tools. I love taking a moment each morning to do a bit of gardening. It's the perfect way to get that connection with nature before beginning to work. My books. I call on them all the time to get visual inspiration for projects and new designs. The cat door. We recently got an electronic cat door that keeps out neighbor cats and raccoons. Before this, we would have a family of raccoons visit frequently to eat all the cat food at night.
GLB: What room do you spend the most time in? Why?
Nicole: Hmm probably the office. My computer, sample library, and work table are all in the office.
Nikolai: My woodshop and the living room.
GLB: What are your favorite neighborhood spots?
Nicole: Tangaroa, the patio at Alibi room, Market Venice, Blossom, Night Market, and the Mar Vista farmer's market
GLB: What are your favorite pieces of furniture? Why?
Nicole: I always like the newest piece we design most, so I would say the crib. We just had a baby girl and designed a chunky crib in walnut. It's named Alma after her. It makes me happy that we could make something so unique and beautiful for her.
Nikolai: Our couch. I named it Esperantina. We designed it so it's curved and encourages conversation. The curvilinear nature breaks up the length of our house. You can also sit on the back facing towards the kitchen which happens a lot when we have parties. And you can split up the segments, so it's very adaptable.
GLB: What are your favorite piece you’ve made and why?
Nikolai: The Floriano chair. I had to learn how to do this specific type of cane weaving from a specialist that was super hesitant to work with me. After getting his help, I sent him a box of cigars and I think he took more of a liking to me after that.
Nicole: The Rodia floor lamp. It was the first piece of lighting I designed and was the launch point for a collection of stainless steel pieces. It took a lot of trial and error, but it's made to have me construct the whole thing with simple tools: my hands, a metal brake, and a rivet gun.
GLB: How did each of you get started in your creative endeavors?
Nikolai: My dad's German friend is a modern day Renaissance man living out in a tiny beach town in the north of Brazil. He built his own house out of adobe and spends most of his time painting. He initially taught me how to make my first furniture piece when I came to him with a project idea.
Nicole: I painted and drew when I was young, and then that creative outlet evolved when I found my grandma's sewing machine in our attic. After spending a few years working in the fashion industry, I felt more drawn to interior design and architecture. So, I took some CAD classes, worked for a textile company and then an interior design studio. I have always loved working with textiles, which you get to play with in both fashion and interiors. Over the years, I have experimented with saori and frame loom weaving. I've also designed and made quilts for friends and the beds in this house. And then through our work in interiors, I've had the opportunity to explore more ideas and develop even more objects like lighting, jewelry, and hardware.
GLB: What do you love about living in Los Angeles?
Nikolai: I think LA is one of the most versatile cities in the US. There are so many different industries here and a lot of manufacturing, so if you make furniture or objects, you can find every type of service or material. And at the same time, there is the coast and you can swim, surf, sail or you can go up in the mountains without having to travel too far.
GLB: Where do you find inspiration?
Nikolai: I rely a lot on my books, but honestly the Discover tool on Instagram is pretty nice. Traveling also gets me really excited about designing things for a home or garden that I haven't thought of before.
Nicole: Yeah, I echo Nikolai. Books and travel are hugely influential. I'd also throw in movies, museums, and galleries.
GLB: Can you tell me about each of your creative processes?
Nikolai: For me, it's first starting with rough dimensions, in particular if it's an ergonomic project, I need that information. Then I look at my books to see if I can get some really abstract visual cues and kinda get an emotional vibe of what could be appealing. Then I go into 3D modeling. I sketch through many 3D models and ideas and then get a lot of help from Nicole. I show her my ideas and we argue a lot. That usually helps get the best work out. Then, I go into making a physical prototype.
Nicole: I'm hoping at some point we figure out how to do this with less arguing. But yep, that is our process to getting the best result. We trust and respect each other, but also are both very stubborn. We usually come up with our ideas separately, present them to each other and then duel.
GLB: Anything you’re working on?
Nicole: I mentioned this earlier, but we just had a baby so I'm focused on her and my boobs right now. But, we are currently working on a remodel and a ground up project in Brazil. We are doing finishing touches on a couple residential interior projects in LA, and we are looking to move to a new workshop/studio space in the next year.
Nikolai: I want to make more limited edition pieces. So I'm thinking of doing some versions of the Cavaleira chairs with painted figures on them inspired by imagery from the north of Brazil.
GLB: Where can we purchase your pieces?
Nikolai: All furniture can be purchased through me. Images of pieces are on my Instagram and website. Shoot me an email. If the right project comes along, I'm open to creating special commissions as well.
Nicole: My work can also be purchased directly through me.