Inspired by the cults and rituals of different tribes, Laurence Leenaert creates fashion items that have a mix of bold, graphic prints, organic forms and coloured textures for her label, LRNCE. This designer is definitely on our radar and we needed to find out more…
Designed in Marrakesh and manufactured in Belgian, the fashion items produced by LRNCE are set apart by their unique combination of texture and material. Laurence enjoys working with people from different art backgrounds and it is one of the fundamental aspects to her label.
What do you make?
I started with bags in Belgium and now I’m focussing on textiles, carpets, pottery, kimonos and sandals. I moved to Marrakesh to explore new things, to give myself space and to explore what I can do with new materials that I’m not used to working with.
Describe your work process and rituals
For me it’s about combining diverse textures and prints in to a minimal shape. It’s very important that every piece completes my initial vision, starting with the photos I take – everything must be in harmony with the products and the atmosphere around them. I also draw a lot, everywhere, and try to transform these drawings into different kinds of textures and shapes. I’m very into the “moment” and I’m always busy with something new or trying to make something better….
You studio space is…
In my house, in the center of the medina. I work with artisans who are situated in and out of the medina, so I’m always running from the one side to the other. On my travels across Morocco, I often come across interesting pieces or objects to use in my work. Sometimes I pass by an object almost ten times before realising I can do something with it! In my studio on the ground floor, I store all fabrics, leather, wood and pervious pieces. When I draw I need to take everything out to understand what material will be needed for the next piece. It’s very quiet and peaceful inside, the opposite of what is outside of my front door.
Your daily routine is…
Everyday is another day here in Marrakesh and you can’t always plan very well because of the lifestyle. In the morning I design or draw, and in the afternoon I go to see the artisans, fabrics, new textiles, leather, and find new possible products to work with. Every friday I go to make pottery outside of the city and I’m happy to get out of the choas from time to time.
Who or what influences your work?
People in Marrakesh with amazing skills, my talented friends with their wonderful personalities and the places I go as well as the places I’ve already been.
Describe life in Marrakesh and how it influences your style
All the colours and artisans around, it makes me feel like anything is possible. You can go out to find a carpenter, men weaving baskets and dying fabrics all on the same street. It opens my mind and encourages me to create new things. Being able to express myself through everything I commit to.
Favourite places to visit?
Here in Morocco my favorite place to go is the desert M’hamid El Ghislaine. I have a good friend living there and it’s great to escape from the chaotic medina – sleep under the stars, on the sane, in the middle of nowhere. I want to discover more of Africa and I plan to visit Senegal to meet more interesting people to work with.
Advice to your younger self?
I would keep my fearless mentality, be reckless but I would organise more and create more structure in my brand.
I gave myself a year to experiment and some time to discover which direction I want to go with my brand. So far it’s been a learning process. I want to focus more on new techniques and bringing Moroccan, African techniques together with my designs and aesthetic. Of course I also want to expand my brand, travel more and work with people from other continents.
SEE MORE OF LAWRENCE’S WORK
The Africa Issue is a celebration of the future of design in Africa and its potential to drive change. We explore the concept of ‘Africaness’, what this means for our aesthetic. We also dream big with bedroom inspiration and take you on a tour of homes that truly embrace the spirit of the continent. Pick up your copy today and tell us what you think on Twitter @Elle_Deco using #AfricaIssue.