Modafirma sat down with Laurel Butler the from  Laurel Living Designs, we spent the day talking about sustainability, architecture and design.

Hi Laurel, great to have you here. So, tell us about yourself.

Thank you for having me, I feel honoured.

So about me …

I graduated from Oxford Brookes in 2019 with a 1st class honours in Interior Architecture and since then I’ve been working for an Architects firm in Fitzrovia, London. I work in the interiors department on large scale residential projects all around London.

However since the pandemic hit, and I have been on furlough, I have been working on small freelance projects in my own time as well as finding a new hobby within my design Instagram. Something I never had time for before. I am really enjoying showing off my own personal style and aesthetic through it, as well as giving useful hints and tips along the way on how to improve a space not only visually but for the individuals benefit.

Outside of the design world I love to travel, which has been a little tricky recently for obvious reasons, but I hope to pick that up again soon. I also really enjoy keeping fit by going for regular runs and at home yoga classes.

Laurel Living Designs project

What is the inspiration behind Laurel Living?

Many things inspire me daily, I believe inspiration can happen from just a small glimpse of seeing the right colour combination on an autumnal day or seeing a selection of stones naturally placed that spring an idea to mind.

Laurel Living in particular has been inspired by having more free time during lockdown, this gave me the headspace to consider the paths I’d like to take in my future and begin to set the foundation for them.

I’d say personally I’m inspired by my degree and upbringing. During the time I spent studying I discovered many wonderful architects/ designers. At University the course was based around designing in a community driven manner, supporting and benefiting the users from designs created. A lot of my ideas were inspired by many artisans such as Annie Albers and William Morris, who allowed their textiles to become part of the architecture. In terms of my upbringing my parents have both always cared about our home and the way it is presented. They have also always been doing up properties, so I used to spend endless amount of time being traipsed around furniture stores and paint shops.

You mention that you take inference and inspiration from the things around you and various cultures, which things and cultures inspire you the most?

Travel is another key inspiration of mine. Over the last three or four years I have travelled around the world discovering different cultures and their traditions within design. I have taken aspects of these countries to help me when venturing into projects of my own. The memories I hold from these places are also then surrounding me when I’m in a space of my own – which in turns makes me feel more at ease and subconsciously enjoy the space more. I’d definitely advice anyone who is trying to find inspiration from something to travel, easier said than done with the current climate but even if it means heading to the local gallery, it really help spark ideas.

I’d say one of the most inspiring cultures I have experienced would be the Fijians, I travelled to Fiji with CAUKIN Studio, they are a social enterprise using design and build projects as a vehicle to create a social, environmental and economic impact. So as a team we built a Kindergarten for the children of Naweni, a small Fijian Village. Despite the fact we were giving something to the community I felt they gave me so much more in terms of experience and learning about their way of life. Everything consumed is from the land, nothing is wasted, it is a very sustainable way of living. We caught the fish we ate and collected the coconuts to drink from. This was so inspiring in a way that’s much more complex than just being aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

After reading your blog, we were drawn to the fact that you particularly focus on interior design items that are not only attainable price wise but also offer value and enhance the way of life. Could you tell us more about this?

Yes, so this was a key lesson I picked up whilst studying Interior Architecture. A lot of the time spaces are designed in a way to make sure they have aesthetical value, however sometimes I find the personal and functional values can be missed out. It is key when moving forward in the future of designing to consider how it will impact someone’s day to day life and the people that can benefit from this. This can be as small as making sure there is enough daylight entering a space and at the right times, so the angle the windows are placed in. This can influence some working from home in so many ways turning their day from negative to positive.

Take Maggie Centres for example, Maggie’s is a charity providing free cancer support and information in centres across the UK. Their centres are a key example of well-thought-out design that also is beautiful. They are designed to house those struggling with something so difficult and traumatising and allows them to utilise a space in such a way it will help them feel good about their day.

 

What type of interior design style or aesthetic would you say is your favourite?

I’d say the key styles or aesthetics I am most drawn to would be Minimalistic, Detailed features, Modern and Neutrals. I really appreciate bright colours and extravagant patterns but less likely to bring it across in my own work.

I love the Aesthetic of Rose Uniacke and 1508 London.

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

I’m not one to usually plan this far ahead and at the moment with the current climate I’m taking every day as it comes. However in 5 years time from now I’d love to have a key role in an Interior Design Firm and potentially be taking on a lot more freelance work of my own to help grow Laurel Living.

 

What are your thoughts on sustainable living?

After a Trip to Fiji, I was very inspired by their way of sustainable living, however living in the UK it would be a lot harder to implement their system due to completely different climates. I try to be as sustainable as I can be and definitely want to better myself in this region as soon as possible.

I believe sustainable living is becoming more regularly discussed with more and more people are becoming aware of it. I have aimed to try and avoid fast fashion as much as possible in 2021 and starting to use charity shops or sustainable brands as my go to’s for clothes.

In my field of work, I am always looking for new ways in which I can be more sustainable, researching sustainable fabric brands and using materials that are preloved etc. This is also something I’d like to incorporate into my 5-year plan: looking into ways people can exchange materials in the design world and replenish them. In my final year project of my degree, I designed a fashion house where instead of creating new items, local users would bring in their old clothes and they would be repaired and brought up to current trends. The users would also learn how to repair clothes themselves to gain transferable skills in the hope to aim towards to a better future.

Laurel Butler project

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