04 / 11 / 2013
Last time I was in Marseilles I spent a bit of time with the designer Claire Lena.
Claire very kindly invited me to her apartment for coffee to have a chat about herself and her career. I was already a big fan of her work before I met her and now…. well now I’m hooked!
Here are a few pictures of her work and her studio to accompany our chat :-)
Thanks again Claire for having me!
Hi Claire. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Claire Leina. I’m 29 years old and I’m a Surface Pattern Designer.
I grew up all over: firstly in Brazil, then in Cameroon then in Morocco (for six years), then in Guinea-Bissau and finally in France where I went to high school.
I recently moved to Marseilles, having spent the last few years going back and forth between Paris and Marseilles.
Tell us about how you got to where you are, and the key stages in your career.
I have a degree from ECV (Ecole de Communication Visuelle), where I trained to be an artistic director. Then I discovered textiles and decoration during an internship at Anamorphee, a designer duo who have worked with Hermes amongst others. Through them I got a one-year contract in Paris working for Benoit Pierre Emery, the creative director of Hermes Maison.
We worked on collections for Kenzo as well as scarves and tableware for Hermes.
After that, I started freelancing, developing my own contacts and working on my own projects.
Claire Leina pour Sessùn.
What is your relationship with Sessùn?
I have been familiar with Sessùn for a quite few years now, as I have been wearing their clothes for some time.
I met Emma not long after I left Paris, when I moved back to the south of France. She was one of the first designers to have put their trust in me and to have given me the opportunity to work on their collections.
I have worked on several collections already, designing patterns to go with the themes and styles that Emma has created.
We work very well together. Emma is someone who knows what she wants but she also gives me a lot of freedom and is very open to new ideas.
She is very trusting, and that’s something I really appreciate. On top of this, working for a label that you wear everyday is a bit like working out what you are going to be wearing next year…
How would you describe your work?
That’s probably one of the hardest questions to answer. …. I’d say it’s poetical? I try and create things that are soft and delicate, modern but not ‘trendy’.
My inspirations are contemporary. It’s hard to be specific, I take inspiration from all sorts of things I like: interiors, graphic design, films, plants, nature, travel etc.
I know you do a lot of different things but what is your favourite medium?
It’s hard to choose but if I think about it, it’s probably drawing, as it’s the foundation of everything I do
My favourite time is when I lock myself away and think about designs. I draw, paint watercolours, trace, cut out and create my motifs.
For days, I spread my research and my try-outs all over my studio. I put things up on the wall, try them out, in blue, in green, in large, in small, I scan things, I throw things away, I start again…
Creatively speaking, this is the most productive time. After that, all I have to do is finalise each design on my computer.
How do you go about working? Where do your ideas come from? Tell us about where you get your inspi
I am inspired by current trends as well as by other artists, architects and photographers, or by things I see out on the street, in shops, on Pinterest, all over really.
I take notes, often using my hand or my arm to scribble on if I’ve got nothing else to write on. Then I create mood boards on the walls of my studio to remind me of everyday things I’ve seen.
Subconsciously, my brain then gets to work. I get ideas and then have to see if they work out. I’ll try something out, then something else…
Claire Leina pour Eric Bompard
Out of everything you have done, which is your favourite and why?
I think it’s the bedroom I created at the Vieux Panier arts hotel in Marseilles.
I was lucky enough to be asked to decorate one of their rooms during their first season. What I liked about it was being able to play around with everything in the room: the cushions, the wallpaper, the paintings, the bedside tables that I redesigned, the furniture the colours, the layout…
What is your typical day like?
On a normal day I wake up at 8 am. I have breakfast with my boyfriend and then I am in my studio by about 9. I spend a few minutes with a cup of coffee looking at my favourite blogs as well as Pinterest.
Then, depending what I’m working on, I either draw or work, paint or rework designs on my Mac. I always have Radio Nova on in the background. I often have my cat with me too. My office / studio is pretty normal: there’s a computer, a chair, some books, pictures a coffee cup and a few plants. The walls are white, my desk is white, and my chair is….white. I love white. A bit too much according to some, but I like adding patterns, a touch of colour and wood to my interior.
And no, it’s not because I design patterns for a living that I have patterns all over.
What did you dream of being when you were children?
Something totally different…..I wanted to be Amanda Woodward in Melrose Place. I wanted to work in a bar, wear a suit and be as elegant as Heather Locklear.
I also wanted to be a clothes designer, like lots of girls do I suppose.
I used to draw clothes for models that I traced from magazines because I couldn’t draw bodies.
One last question, what are you working on at the moment?
I have almost finished working on a big project for a restaurant. I have done an illustration measuring 4.5m x 6m to decorate the walls, floors and ceilings of the restaurant. The theme is Asia.