Before we interviewed Julie Lansom, we thought she might have a thing with light. We were right. Designing lamps, and being a photographer, this young creative woman sees light as a guideline for all her works, dealing along with nature, materials and colors. We met her in Paris, where she lives and works, to talk about her fresh start in design and her experience in photography which is about to take a new special turn.
How long have you been designing your beautiful lamps?
My design project is pretty new actually, it’s in its beginnings. I studied journalism, so design is really new to me, but it has been a while since I started thinking about it. My father is a second-hand goods dealer, so i've been raised amongst old furniture actually! Those influences took time to mature in my mind, I created many different prototypes, very slowly, before leading the project to life.
Do you consider that being a fresh new designer is an advantage for you?
I guess I have a fresh point of view on design. My positioning is not the same as a real designer's. I'm lucky I can materialize my ideas, getting to know how they should be done, making prototypes etc. But my process is very simple, I do whatever I like to do. I want my designs to be simple, in terms of shapes and colors, and affordable as well. It is an instinctive way of doing things. I don't ask myself too many questions.
How do you create your lamps?
Everything is handmade in Paris. For lamps, I first design the wooden structure. All the wooden parts are made by a cabinetmaker. Then I paint them and afterwards comes the tricky part! I weave all the structure with cotton threads. It takes a lot of time to weave an entire lamp, but I like it. It leads you to some kind of meditative state of mind. My dearest will is to keep on making them on my own, crafts is too important to me. You can find some of them on the amazing L'Arcobaleno design shop online. But I mostly work upon requests.
Why did you pick up lamps for a start?
I chose to concentrate on my lamps for now but I have many other ideas to come as well, such as tables and chairs… The thing is that I have an obsession for lights and for how rooms are lightened. A good lightening can change everything in a room. I hate those old bulbs, with their white-flat-poor glow. So, making lamps felt like something obvious to me. The shape and the principle of my luminaries are borrowed from 60's and 70's design, which I particularly love. But this kind of lamps were made of very poor materials at that time, mainly plastic. I worked on changing the shapes, the structure, the materials and on colors.
Was this obsession for light a reason why you started photographing as well?
Yes, the two activities are probably linked this way, light is their starting point. But I was a photographer before I stepped into design. The good thing is: I can photograph all my designs myself! Moreover, I suppose design and photography are linked by a love for colors, and a strong need of aesthetics.
Perhaps the same need that makes you work only with analogue cameras?
Well, I like to use the specificities and even the small defects of analogue photography. I can burn my films, I feel like I am getting a present just before seeing the result… Analogue photography is expansive, but I get more satisfaction with it than with potential numeric cameras. It is more of a sensitive process.
Do you want to keep developing this part of your work?
I keep on photographing of course. But I'm developing it in another direction as well. I have a photoblog, called straightoutofcamera, where I publish new photographers. So I spend days and days classifying pictures, discovering new photographers… It inspires me very much. With a friend, we decided to make a publication series out of it. It will feature fifty to sixty photographers per issue, each time on a different theme.
Why do you pick up mostly young photographers?
I have lived their situation not so long ago. No publications, emails without answers, questioning yourself all the time… So, we want this publication series to be an opportunity for new photographers to publish their work. I can't wait for this project to come out, so stay tuned!