Jean Lee is Co-founder – Creative Director – Designer at Ladies & Gentlemen Studio. As part of our Makers Monday interview series, we asked Jean six questions about L&G’s products and what it means to be an American Maker. Check out Shinola supply’s Cork Desk Block, ZigZag Desk Tray, Desk Container and Mail Organizer Desk Tray by L&G Studio, and discover more Makers on the Makers Monday website and on Cool Hunting.
What is it you make, and what should people know about your products?
We’re a multi-disciplinary studio that designs and makes everything from home furnishings to jewelry to paper goods to custom spaces and installations. Everything we make is tied together by our belief that good design should be simple and functional, with a subtle playful element.
When did you commit to making your products in America and why did you choose to do it here?
We started making things locally from the beginning because it meant that we could keep our inventory lean and spend less on transportation time and cost. Over time we developed great relationships with local manufacturers, who are now not only an integral part of our production, but also in the development of new products. It really allows us to work collaboratively in a direct and immersive way that’s impossible to do from a distance.
Where is your business located, and what makes your town uniquely American?
Our studio is based in Seattle. The city has a lot of great material resources and industrial manufacturing supported by logging and boat industry from the beginning, and more recently the aerospace and software industry. It’s a relatively new city, a pioneer town of sorts, where there aren’t a lot of pre-existing etiquettes or traditions—it’s still the wild west, which breeds an innovative spirit that we think is uniquely American.
What got you started, and what was the first thing you remember making?
We started designing together when we participated in a group design show in Seattle back in 2008 just for fun. The first thing we made was a repurposed lamp and side table made from vintage brass lamp bases called the Alphabrass series.
When you’re not busy at work, where might we find you? What do you like to do with your spare time?
We might be hanging out with friends, eating or cooking a nice meal. When we manage to have a free weekend and the weather cooperates, there are amazing outdoor places around Seattle for camping, hiking, swimming and boating. It’s really inspiring to step away from work and spend time in nature.
Are there other brands and makers that inspire you?
Yes, tons! Generally speaking we really look up to designers and artists from the previous era, like Enzo Mari, Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Dieter Rams, with their own distinctive timeless aesthetics. On the more contemporary side, we love how Hella Jongerius celebrates materiality, flaws, history and simple surprises. Max Lambs’ explorative spirit with natural materials and processes is also something we really admire.