Founded 60 years ago, Seattle-based Lawrence & Scott is known for their quietly sophisticated, globally-inspired pieces, particularly their diverse table lamps and decorative accessories. Now helmed by husband-and-wife duo Leo Lam and Hannah Larson, the company continues to expand upon its offerings with stylish new pieces every year (more on that below). We caught up with Leo, Lawrence & Scott’s CEO, and Hannah, the company’s Chief Inspiration Officer, to talk about the firm’s creations and where they’re headed next. See what they had to say and be sure to shop Lawrence & Scott’s offerings here on Chairish.
Lawrence & Scott was founded over 60 years ago, which is incredible. Tell us a bit about the history of the company and what’s brought you to this point.
Leo Lam: The brand was founded by Lucia Lawrence, an interior designer who saw a gap in the market for exquisitely crafted Asian-inspired lighting and home decor accessories. She designed and commissioned a series of products that have remained staples for top interior designers. Our products have graced the pages and covers of design magazines worldwide. My wife and I took over the brand in 2018 from Lucia’s daughter. Since the acquisition, we have elevated and modernized the line further, drawing our inspiration from a broader, more global perspective, and have implemented a streamlined approach for working with both interior designers and end clients. With the innovation of our Exact Color Support program, we have enabled designers to work from home with efficiency and ease. As a small company, we survived the pandemic by utilizing technology to simplify the experience for both designer and client, emulating as much of the showroom experience as possible online, and with even more accuracy than the human eye.
Your lighting is beautiful, especially your porcelain table lamps. What does it take to create them, and what is the design process like?
LL: Thank you! Light ultimately defines the rest of the space, and our eyes are instinctively drawn to the brightest subjects, so we take the creation of these pieces seriously. We strive to design pieces that cater to all the senses.
We currently have multiple lines of lighting products to cover what we call the “Yin” and “Yang” needs for a space. The “Yin” pieces are the more gentle porcelain and the new Malmo line of wood-based designs, and the “Yang” lamps are powerful, statement-making pieces with Verdigris Bronze and hand-brushed brass.
Our porcelain vessels are handmade by Master Hsu Chao-Tsung, an award-winning potter based in Taiwan. The shapes are classical Chinese lines, yet perfectly proportioned with a glaze that can only come out of a master’s kiln. Each vessel is measured and finished in our workshop in Seattle with hand-turned, grain-matched wood caps and bases and our renowned lampshades, which are also handmade in house.
The new Malmo line is inspired by the silhouette of Japanese pagodas and influenced by the minimalistic and natural elements of Scandinavian design. Every piece is grain-matched top to bottom and hand-turned with sustainably sourced American walnut (from the Pacific Northwest when possible). The Malmo line bridges the Yin and the Yang, from the striking Malmo glass pendant to the warm and comforting Malmo Pendelier. Coincidentally, looking at current and past Google Trend histories, the Malmo line fits within the definition of ‘Japandi’ (Japan + Scandinavian), but was designed and released before the hybrid definition was coined.
When it comes to statement pieces, designers have always turned to our verdigris bronze line. Each vessel is sand-casted and aged for seven months underground to create a unique patina. The shapes and finishes are inspired by ancient Chinese culture and are famous for their incredible heft — some pieces weigh in at over 70 lbs.
You also sell across a lot of other categories, including tabletop, screens, and other accessories. How did that come about, and how do you select those items?
Hannah Larson: Indeed. While lighting was the focus when we took over the brand, it quickly became evident that designers and clients are eager to find pieces of the same quality, caliber, and with the uniqueness our lighting range possesses. While we inherited the inventory of Lucia’s past designs, we continue to seek out artistic pieces that are visually stunning, emotionally engaging, and as interesting as our clients.
We have always been engaging with the top creatives in the Pacific Northwest and this is our opportunity to give them a platform to shine. We are fortunate to have placed quite a few beautiful paintings by award-winning painter Amber Jess that clients continue to rave about. We also live in a region that reflects the diverse cultures of America, so pieces that combine old and new (like our selection of modern Sumi-e paintings by Ayan Rivera), or cultural entangling (like the timely and thoughtful mixed-media pieces by Paige West) are of great interest.
Details and craftsmanship are the bases of our creative DNA, and we sought out makers and artists of a similar mindset. We brought in LIULI Crystal Art from Taiwan, having encountered their work while traveling there. LIULI is a 30 year-old crystal glass brand that is fairly unknown in the US, while being highly sought after by collectors and museums (including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London) as the pinnacle of glassmaking using the pate de verre process. It was started by two titans of the Asian movie industry and it has grown significantly since its start. We want to bring these elegant and incredibly detailed pieces of art to the American home. The way they shine is quite simply second to none.
How do you decide on new pieces to launch? Any exciting things coming up?
LL: More new designs from the Malmo line will be forthcoming this year. We are small, but we are intensely customer focused and are continuously seeking feedback from our showroom partners and clients throughout the design process. Our goal is to create designs that are easily adaptable to the needs of designers. In addition, we strive to deliver with a minimal turnaround time (often seven days or less, even for custom products). We believe that luxury doesn’t need to wait and that it is possible to craft designs that stand the test of time, efficiently, and without any sacrifice on quality.
What are some trends in terms of the types of items that people are buying? What do you think is the next big thing, particularly in the lighting world?
HL: Quirky. Expressive. Comfort. These are the three qualities that we continue to see, especially since 2020, where I think many of us had the opportunity to reflect on our priorities, both internally and externally, and want to create an environment that is reflective of those shifts.
Are there any trends you’d like to see rise to the top next? And are there any styles right now you’d like to see disappear?
HL: I would like to see the concept of trends ebb, and instead, for customers to curate pieces that speak to them, unswayed by the ever-fleeting dernier cri. The word “timeless” permeates every aspect of the interior design space, yet the definition will always remain personal. I want clients to invite our designs into their home because the designs reflect their taste and personality, with the intention of savoring them for a long time.
Environmentally sustainable and ethical practices are both of importance to you. Tell us a bit about that.
HL: Yes, very much so. Our products are designed and crafted to last generations, the antithesis of the ever-prevalent throwaway culture. Leo came from a scientific background in energy sustainability, and he is keenly aware that without a world that is favorable for our next generations, our pieces would be meaningless. Beauty ultimately begins with a living and healthy planet. It is a priority as we took over the company, and we achieved the Envirostar Tier 3 (highest level) certification within less than a year.
Most importantly, designs should always center on people. And so we have a laser focus on treating everyone we interact with with respect, empathy, and a united sense of “we are in this together.” After all, we are in the design business… a business that should create happiness and comfort. We abide by that in our design and our company culture.
It’s been a difficult year for a lot of companies, especially as it comes to production and sourcing during the pandemic. How did you navigate that?
LL: Partially, it was due to a bit of luck and a small gamble that paid off, as I am also heavily involved in medicine, technology, and the scientific community at large. I was prepared to shut down about a month before it became a reality. (Although, I still cannot fathom the extent of which the pandemic was allowed to progress last year).
We pivoted quickly and accelerated our digital transition. We launched the Exact Color Support program which allowed designers to use the color swatch books they already own to match the color of our pieces, without the need to see the items physically in a showroom. Over 100 designers from around the world used it in 2020 and we really appreciated their support to keep our business running.
We were able to source about six months’ worth of parts ahead of the shutdown and most of our suppliers were back online by the time we needed new supplies. We were also very early in implementing safety protocols, providing paid leave for employees and creating a safe working environment. Thankfully, no one in the company got sick and we are now a fully vaccinated team.
How have digital avenues like Chairish impacted the business?
LL: Great. Since we took over the business it has always been our intention to reach a greater audience and increase awareness of our brand and to be very transparent with our pricing. The world of commerce changes quickly and as innovators at heart, we will continue to quickly evolve to create more joy and experience for designers and our end-user customers.
Lawrence & Scott has a lot of beautiful items, but what’s one dream item that you personally would love to have yourself?
HL: We already do! Our bedside tables are adorned with the Ocha Table Lamp with a custom fabric from Villanova on the shades. We also have the Malmo table lamps, which fit our hygge, minimalist, and modern approach to our home. Cozy is key!
All images courtesy of Lawrence & Scott