Thursday, July 15, 2010

Designer Spotlight: Lauren Manoogian

Lauren Manoogian is a true fashion pioneer. Her accessories and ready-to-wear line is wholly organic. She sources materials for jewelry from scrap metal and electronics surplus warehouses and finds inspiration almost everywhere, from Native American textiles to landscape art. With a training background in knitting, Lauren launched her line with a collection of brightly colored necklaces made of paper clips and painted leather bracelets. For the fall season, she has embraced her talent for making knitwear by debuting a line of scarves and tops. Meanwhile, her jewelry pieces are made of only three colors, which is a vast departure from previous collections. “I was really attracted to a more austere palette and materials that had a more industrial edge to them,” she says. “It was an exciting challenge, like a clean slate.”

We get a look into the Lauren’s studio space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and a taste of what is on the horizon for this inspired designer.

"I am always really inspired by non-Western concepts of dress and form. It seems to give priority to the cloth, which I relate to. I get obsessed with certain artists, usually sculptors. Right now I am very into these early Lynda Bengalis pieces that are all dirtily sparkly. I always look to Richard Tuttle, Ron Nagle's ceramics for color and texture, and West African textiles."

"I grew up in St. Louis in a creative household. One of the perks of growing up in the Midwest is the great amount of untapped vintage finds. St. Louis is an old city, and people are not ostentatious about the way they dress. But they are really educated and travel and have cool stuff. I spent a lot of time with my mom and sister rummaging around at estate sales and thrift stores hunting for antiques and clothes. It definitely shaped my ability to see interesting things in unlikely places. More than anything, growing up there encouraged me to leave and get out and see the world!"

"My fall 2010 collection is the debut of the knitwear pieces, so that is obviously really exciting. Knitwear is something I have wanted to do for a long time but I didn't have access to the right resources in the past. The best place to get knitting looms like this is on ebay or at yard sales."

Lauren demonstrates how to use the knitting loom. A pattern card is inserted to create the pattern and the colored thread can be added or taken out for a linear pattern.

“I think that the best part of having your own business is that it can constantly evolve. I would like to do some projects with artisans. The knitwear collection will continue to develop and grow, maybe evolving into a ready-to-wear collection. I would also love to design crazy rugs, blankets, more like textile objects, without the constraints of wearability.”

"I love going to Los Angeles and visiting friends, eating, eating, eating, going to the park, doing some flea market shopping, going to the Huntington Gardens, soaking up the sun, recharging the battery, going to the desert."

“I couldn’t work without light, plants, and NPR—probably in that order! Nourishing my body with light and plants. Nourishing my brain with information while I am doing the repetitive, often mindless techniques that all my work seems to require. Music-wise, I am really into listening to MP3s from the blog Awesome Tapes from Africa. I have also been into the band Ngozi Family, a Zambian rock band from the ’70s. I think that music is definitely influencing my work. I love the song ‘Keep Your Body Happy Through Exercise,’ by Jonny Corndawg—a positive anthem for people who live in the city.”

“I love the development process of designing—the first creative moments when the ideas are forming, making swatches, finding the materials, choosing the colors, experimenting with shapes, just being playful and open-minded. Hunting and gathering. I love that this is my job and that anything and everything is fair game and ‘work related’ because you never know where ideas will come from. The rest of the business is discipline.”

Jewelry pieces from the spring 2010 collection.

Knitwear swatches and pattern cards for the knitting loom.

“I most value this completely hand-tooled custom purse my boyfriend made me. It has pictures of my cat, my station wagon, and cacti all over it. It's so special I am scared to carry it around! Also, the original paper-clip necklace I made.”

“I could really do some damage in Tokyo if someone gave me $1,000. I have been fantasizing about going back to Buenos Aires, renting an apartment, buying tons of beautiful leather, holing up to work on projects while consuming tons of yerba mate and gelato, and petting lots of awesome dogs.”


I love getting a sneak peek inside the studio of an artist or designer. It's at once, fascinating, inspirational and educational. There's just something about that particular "space." I'd actually never heard of Lauren prior to reading this article, but I'm so glad that I've "made a new discovery." Her design aesthetic is very interesting as well as her background. I look forward to hearing more about this exceptionally talented person.

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