A while back I wrote about artist/designer Kelly Lamb’s beautiful geo-birdhouses, planters, and terrariums. Kelly has also designed interiors for Malo restaurant in Silver Lake, the Echo nightclub in Echo Park, and she’s designed and produced artist’s campaigns with corporations like Salvatore Ferragamo and Coke. And she also renovates old homes. After reading up on Kelly, I just had to bug her for an interview. And, awesomely, she complied.
Take Sunset: I heard that you renovated a 100 year old home in upstate New York before relocating to California. What was that experience like?
Kelly Lamb: Yes, I renovated a big house built in 1906 in upstate New York. It was a crazy undertaking. As with something that old, you never really know what you are going to get when you dig in. The thing I really enjoyed about it was seeing the different layers of transition the house had taken over time. Each previous owner had marked the property with their tastes and personality. It was a trip to peel away the different layers and try to imagine what was going on in the home at a particular time. All the layers gave the house a crazy personality. There was a disco in the basement from the 70s, and there was beautiful stonework from the turn of the century. It was really fun and interesting for me to take into consideration all the things the house had been and add to the legacy of the home’s architecture and design.
Take Sunset: Have you renovated any homes here in Los Angeles?
Kelly Lamb: I just finished doing a house in LA that was built in the same year as the one in upstate NY. The process was very similar to what happened in NY, but the history was obviously more California based, and the weather had not taken as big of a toll on the structure itself as it did to the upstate NY property.
Take Sunset: How did you get involved in doing commercial interiors for restaurants and clubs like Malo and Echo? It seems like the creative process would be very different than working on individual art pieces.
Kelly Lamb: When I moved to LA, I got involved doing interiors for commercial venues. One thing led to another and I was asked to do the interiors for part of the Echo nightclub, which led me to doing Malo and so on. Yes, the process is very different than doing an individual art piece because ultimately it is a collaboration with the owners of the venue, where as art is a solo venture. I also look at doing interior design as collaboration with the audience or the “customer,” as I take into consideration how the final product is going to be used and perceived by the public. When I was making art, these ideas were not really as much a part of my practice.
Take Sunset: I love your terrariums and geo-birdhouses pieces. Can you talk a bit about the intention behind those pieces?
Kelly Lamb: The geo-bird house and terrariums are really a little celebration of nature. Moving to LA after being in New York City for 15 years has been very inspirational to me. The sun, the landscape, the plants, and animals… I’m in love with the atmosphere here, I guess. In a way the terrariums and geo-birdhouse are my way of housing or encapsulating these things…
Take Sunset: So, you’re happy living in Los Angeles?
Kelly Lamb: LA has been great for me. I grew up on the east coast of Massachusetts, went to school in Vermont, and then moved to New York City. The East Coast has its own rugged beauty that is for sure ingrained in me, but I feel like I have been able to tap into a new part of myself here in the West that would not have been possible if I had stayed in New York.
Take Sunset: What neighborhood do you live in?
Kelly Lamb: I live in Silver Lake on a beautiful compound that my friend owns called The Paramour. I’m very lucky. [Editor Note: I totally need to do a whole post on that!]
Take Sunset: Where are some of your favorite places to shop and hang out in LA?
Kelly Lamb: Mohawk General Store in Echo Park is one of my favorite shops. Bo and Kevin Carney own it and are my good friends. They do a great job finding all sorts of amazing things and they carry my stuff! The margaritas at Malo are king, and I dig Amoeba for record shopping and the ArcLight rules for movies.
Take Sunset: What are you currently working on?
Kelly Lamb: Right now, I’m building out my line of ceramics. And I am also renovating a bar.
Thanks so much for this interview, Kelly! For more information on Kelly Lamb, and to purchase her artwork, go to kellylamb.net.