Though based in NYC, design studio l’aviva home works with a global roster of master artisans. Founder and Creative Director Laura Aviva spent years at Travel + Leisure before launching the luxury home goods line, which spans a wide range of categories. In 2020, they debuted three new collections: Atzompa (lighting from master ceramicists in Oaxaca), Talabartero (leather poufs and pillows inspired by Colombia’s equestrian heritage), and Werreegue (woven lighting from the Wounaan, an indigenous group hailing from The Chocó, where the jungle meets the sea on Colombia’s Pacific coast). They also offer a wide range of rugs, pillows, wallpaper, and more.
Laura’s own NYC loft not only serves as her home base, but the l’aviva home HQ. Located in Soho, it’s got a unique history as a former factory. With smart storage, the open-concept space feels quite minimal, allowing l’aviva’s latest to take center stage. We had a recent chat to learn more about the brand, what she loves most about the space, and how to find balance in a live/work reality:
Tell us about your career path. How did you get started, and how did it lead you to launching l’aviva home?
I moved from Los Angeles, my hometown, to NYC in 2000 to become a Creative Director at Travel + Leisure magazine.
There’s a definite through line connecting my time at T+L and what we do here at l’aviva home. I adored working at the magazine—and then after a good many years there, I was really craving the opportunity to do something in 3D. My favorite part of being on the team at T+L was the opportunity it afforded me to meet so many people and to work in so many places around the world. And in thinking about my goals for next steps after leaving the magazine, I knew I wanted to continue to travel with a purpose, not just as a tourist. The basis for l’aviva home originally was much more guided by the idea of relationships and different ways of engaging with the world than it was about making things. And, in many respects, that remains true today, more than a decade later: while we’re definitely design-obsessed, we’re driven by sense of connection.
Did you have a “lightbulb” moment that quickly shifted your path, or was it a slow and steady process?
The idea for l’aviva home didn’t come about all at once—and we’ve gone through various iterations over time. I would say, though, that the start of us really taking deep dives into product development and process as it evolves through cultural exchange came about via a trip I took to Kyrgyzstan in 2010. I went on a quest to better understand shyrdak (the felt rugs traditionally made to line the floors and walls of yurts), and came away with a full on obsession for the people and the storytelling and the historical context behind the art—along with a dedication to working through the many obstacles to create something together.
Tell us a bit about the studio. What makes l’aviva home stand out in the market?
When we start to look at a new collection, when we are in the beginning stages, we always have a few goals in mind that guide our design process. First and foremost, we want to create something beautiful, in its own right. We also want to create something that draws on tradition, while showing that tradition in a new light and putting a new mark on it. And then, finally, we want to create something that feels timeless. Something that you can’t quite put your finger on in terms of what period it is from—if it’s new or from decades ago. In that way, we look to breathe new and enduring life into the collections and the pieces we create.
How do you find and choose which artisans and craftsmen to work with?
We are very focused on building strong, long lasting partnerships with the artisans we work with. They bring their deep knowledge and mastery, and we bring a fresh perspective and a new way to frame their work. Everything we do is guided by process—which is different every time we embark on something new. A collection evolves according to the relationships we form and the experiences we have. We’ll often be drawn to a country or a region or a particular workshop starting with a long-standing tradition or a technique or a material—but ultimately we’re guided by the ‘who’—who we are drawn to, who we vibe with, who we want to be Whatsapp-ing with about endless details 24-7…
Tell us about your home. Where is it, how long have you lived there, and what do you love most about the location?
My loft here in Soho is both home and studio. I’ve lived in this buidling for almost 20 years—and took over this floor when I launched l’aviva home 12 or so years ago. We also have the full rooftop/garden area, which brings me endless joy—outdoor space here in NYC is the ultimate luxury (and that’s never been more true than in this past year).
What is it like sharing your home with your studio? How do you find the balance, if at all?
Sharing home/studio feels almost entirely seamless, in all honesty—it’s really neither one nor the other, but both at all times. Apart from what this past year has been, the space is set up to be a gathering space, with people continually flowing in and out. Designer clients come through for brainstorming and to talk about their projects while being able to see and touch and feel our collections. I cook lunch daily for the team and anyone else who happens to be around at lunch time. And this all often carries over to evening—with dinners for friends and clients (and drinks on the roof whenever possible).
The space is a bit of an ‘incubator’ for our collections: we get to experiment with what it feels like to ‘live’ with something as we are developing it. And being in a ‘living’ space provides a nice sense of context and fuel for creativity.
I love not having any division between my living and studio space—I find that having everything connected actually balances me. Relationships and creativity and shared food/drink are what’s most important to me, and all three are very intricately intertwined with both home and l’aviva home.