Brick & Wonder Profile – Laura Aviva

Q: Tell us about your career path. How did you get started, and how did it lead you to launch 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 throughline 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, and 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 just as true today, more than a decade later: while we’re definitely design-obsessed, we’re driven by sense of connection, by the process of collaboration, and by the sustainability of our long-term relationships with both our partners in design and with our clients.

Doma Pendant from the Talabartero Saddle Lamp Collection—a collection made in Bogotá, Colombia which draws upon the expert craftsmanship and fine detailing that characterize the best of vintage saddles from the area.

Q: How do you choose and work with the artisans and craftspeople that you partner with?

Our process is always very organic, and it plays out differently 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—and our starting point is most often a long-standing tradition or a technique or a material. Ultimately, though, we’re guided by the ‘who’—who we vibe with, who we see forming a dynamic conversation with, who we want to be Whatsapp-ing with about endless details 24-7…

We can bring an idea to the table and a new way to frame a tradition—but it’s the artisans who bring their deep knowledge and mastery. We aim to put ourselves in their shoes, and to work towards telling a story together, with a desire to reflect tradition as part of the natural flow of design.

Esperanza Restaurant in Manhattan Beach, designed by architect and designer Gulla Jonsdottir, with custom lighting by L’Aviva Home. Photo by Art Grey.

Q: What is the best piece of professional advice you have received:

Shortly after launching L’Aviva Home, someone I really respect said something to me along the lines of… “When you are starting out, everything that comes your way can seem like an opportunity. As you get savvier, you get better at sussing out what a true opportunity looks like, vs. something that requires more effort than it’s worth.” I’ve really held this close, and it’s something I continually remind myself of and work to gauge. Figuring out how to manage bandwidth and where to focus energies is a constant puzzle, and I get better at (and more comfortable with) saying ’no’ to things that don’t feel like they are the right fit for how and where we want to grow as a team and as a company.

Piedra Collection sconces and semi-flush mounts. The collection takes inspiration from the stone masks of the ancient civilization of Teotihuacán. Carved in the Mexican town of Tecali—which means ’stone house’ in Nahuatl—these fixtures draw on the clean lines, defined angles and streamlined silhouettes that epitomize the pre-Columbian stone masks. Sculpted from carefully chosen marble or onyx, each piece reflects the unique character of the individual stone from which it is formed.

Q: Whose work are you admiring or excited about right now, and why?

I’ve always felt especially inspired by modernist Latin American architecture, and am most drawn at the moment to the work of some of the Brazilian architects, like Jacobsen Arquitectura, Studio MK27—and Isay Weinfeld forever. There’s a timelessness to their designs that really resonates, and that feels particularly applicable to what we strive for in terms of how we develop products.

Brad Ford (whose FAIR represents us in NYC) once said to me that what he was really liking about a new collection (our Piedra Collection) we had just introduced was that you couldn’t put your finger on the time period it was from, how it transcended that—and it really was just the best compliment.

Q: What’s on the horizon that you are excited about?

We’re in the process of doing an extensive renovation on a space in Mexico City. We’re casually dubbing it L’Aviva Home South, and it will be both an informal showroom and a second home base for us there. 

Martillado Collection sconces—formed from sustainably harvested and certified tropical hardwoods in Bolivia. Crafted in La Chiquitania, Bolivia, the collection pays homage to tropical modernism while drawing from Bolivia’s long-standing woodworking tradition. Shown here in Morado—Bolivian Rosewood. 

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