Designer / craftswoman Alice Lahana makes each of her pieces entirely by hand in her workshop east of Paris. She launched her first collection of furniture and decorative accessories a year ago.
As a fourth year Fine Arts student in France, Alice travelled to Brazil for an exchange programme that was to change her life. In Sao Paulo, she discovered a new culture, brutalist architecture, and developed a new passion for carpentry. Lahana made her first pieces in wood in the university’s workshop.
“We didn’t speak the same language, but we managed to make a chair together”.
On her return to Paris, Alice Lahana studied for a CAP in carpentry, joined Patrick Seguin’s team specialized in the restoration of furniture, then headed a FabLab at the Parsons School of Design.
Passionate about contemporary design, she created the Observatoire Magazine to promote young talents. She has since put the magazine on hold (whilst continuing to develop its Instagram account : @lobservatoire.magazine) and has launched her own studio.
Alice begins her day by going down to her workshop, which is located on the ground floor of her house. She alternates between preparing orders and experimenting new processes / creating new pieces. At the moment she is making pieces for the windows of a concept store in Barcelona. She explains that “the most complicated piece to make is definitely the Ondulation mirror. I had to make a lot of prototypes to find the best way of making the piece… I draw the shape by hand, cut it out, and with wood chisels I carve out the curves. It takes me about 6 hours to make a mirror. The Arles collection is quite complicated too ! Each piece of wood interconnects, and it all falls into place when the last piece is installed…”
I love to experiment ; as soon as a new idea comes to me, I feel the need to work with my hands, to physically create the object.
My projects ? I would like to dedicate more of my time to experimentation and research. I’d love to explore new processes, like the development of a plant based leather. And I’d like to develop a range of lighting in plaster, so I’m keen to learn more about making casts. Wood is still my favourite material – now I’m thinking about perhaps mixing wood and other materials. I’m particularly interested in going back to basics, I want to only use natural resources.
Who inspires you ?
« I work in a very masculine environment ; as a carpenter, when people see my name they tend to double the prices ! Charlotte Perriand is without doubt one of the designers who inspires me the most – she was a woman who also evolved in a very male environment – and her energy, passion and sense of freedom is really inspiring. I love her work and the way she travelled the world, taking inspiration from everything around her.
« I also admire Muller Van Severen, their designs are so beautifully simple it makes us wonder why no one thought of it before… »
A favourite trip ?
« Iceland – with its surreal landscapes. We would go from volcanoes to glaciers to black sandstorms… It was breathtaking and slightly disconcerting; it makes you feel so small.
Have you decorated your home with your own designs ?
« Yes, when I finished my studies and started working in carpentry, I began by making pieces for myself. The first chair I made in Brazil is in my sitting room, I designed and made my own bed and I have some of my new work, like the mirrors, installed all over the place.”
Your favourite place ?
The café at the end of my street. For me, it means meeting friends and finding pleasure in simple things…”
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