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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why I am a Designer- Laura Britt

In life there are people who just talk about doing and people who just do! Today's designer is definitely a DOER! Laura is someone who has embraced green design with a passion and has built not just a nationally respected design firm, but also launched a green furniture company, Vervano. So many times when you see green design projects the green part overwhelms the design part,but take a look at Laura's work.... WOW! The mastery of true material understanding shines so brightly, it really is inspiring to see.

Laura's base is in Austin, Texas, one of my favorite cities in the world, and her work manages to marry that Texas feel with a modern aesthetic. But aside from the talent, one of the things that made me want to feature her is her ability to listen, process and create in a way that seems effortless and natural,,, and of course if that's not enough her charm and humility will win you over.

In hindsight, becoming an interior designer was primarily just in my DNA and partly from having exposure to the opportunity. I had an unexpected and winding path, which has led me to the career I have today.

Growing up in rural Arkansas didn't provide an abundance of arts and culture. Yet, some of my most vivid memories are of my grandmothers amazing collections of art, antique furnishings and glassware.  My favorite thing to do as a child was to wander into the formal living room and explore each and every piece of her collection. Her treasures had long since outgrown their allotted display space and filled every nook and cranny. 

She and my mother were strong influences and they exposed me to various forms of visual and performing arts. Sometimes we traveled and other times I was content to live vicariously and just browse through her stacks of Town & Country magazine.

The curved ceiling is great,,, loving the silver finish
I always took an interest in spatial relationships, although when I was a young child, I had no idea what that phrase meant! This gene has clearly been passed down through the generations, as my mother still rearranges her furnishings and now my 5-year-old son asks to rearrange his room! I'll always remember as an aspiring designer, discovering my first childhood "floor plans" - that was a full circle moment.

Take note of that shelf detail... nice work!
Fast forward many years when I learned that there was a field of study and exploration called “Interior Design”. I was working between college breaks for a family owned wall covering and window treatment business when I learned from their daughter, that she had studied interior design. I realized that this field captured all of my areas of interest.

I studied interior design at Oklahoma State and was fortunate enough to land my first job practicing what I had learned about the fundamentals of design; scale, proportion, and balance. Although this was great experience, this was not your typical high-end residential design firm... no, I was working for the United States Air Force! An unusual path, this experience provided European travel, which has become an important part of my development as a designer. My responsibilities for design and large-scale project management are skills which I still use every day.

As I learned about mid-century modern aesthetic at the Air Force Academy, designed by SOM (Skidmore, Owings and Merrill), I was surrounded by architects. This fueled my desire to learn more about buildings as an entire system. Back to school I went.

I earned my Master’s degree in Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, focusing on Sustainable design. During graduate school I traveled to Asia and was heavily influenced by the refined Japanese aesthetic. This particular experience influenced my initial furnishings designs. I learned to ‘see differently’ as I designed and then built my three dimensional ideas. This was a great learning process which put the practical aspects of design to the test. I am still ‘testing’ them today as I work at the desk I designed and built in school.

Shortly after graduation, I landed in a firm that was frankly, a terrible fit for me. Each architectural intern sat in their cubicle working away at their computer drawings. I missed the interaction with clients and the diversification of the work. Thankfully, that situation didn't last long and I realized that my true passion is in interior design. I love collaborating with architects and working directly with clients to create and transform space. Thus, the beginning of Laura Britt Design…

Although I clearly have a modern architectural leaning, I still maintain a full respect for the quality and attention to detail of the antiques I was surrounded by as a child. My approach to design is to listen to the client's needs and desires and then use my “design filter” to create a space which is uniquely shaped and molded to each individual.

The stone on the fireplace is beautiful

As my design firm evolved I realized there was something missing. I am passionate about sustainability and found very few resources to provide our clients. As we were furnishing our own studio here in Austin, Texas, it was clear that we needed a better solution for sustainable furnishings- thus the birth of VERVANO, our sustainable modern furnishings line. VERVANO integrates my interest and values in sustainability, architectural design, high attention to detail and quality while supporting our local economy by being built in the US.

Now I juggle the two studios- VERVANO and Laura Britt Design; both focused on sustainable practices. With the design firm, we strive to provide holistically designed spaces - whether it be for primary or secondary residences, luxury condominiums, or large and small commercial projects. Our proudest moments are when the space takes shape and moves from drawings on paper to a fully realized physical existence. That is what excites me and keeps my team motivated.  The most fulfilling compliment we receive is from clients who feel that we have fully understood them on a personal level and have created a perfectly suited place for them.
This sink is aaaamazing! 

Laura Britt Design, LLC
p: 512.458.8963
f: 512.458.4345

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very cool! I liked reading about her evolution as a designer and her family history.