It’s been a while since I didn’t write about my other fav topic: interior design & decor! I’m therefore super excited to jump back to my “In the company of designers” blog category, in which I introduce you to a local or international interior designer or craftsman/woman I admire.
For this new post, I recently interviewed Laurence Zähner, master lampshade maker. We met in her beautiful workshop somewhere in the Swiss countryside.
Emilie (aka Heidi Goes Travelling): Laurence, tell us a bit more about you? How did you become a lampshade designer?
Laurence: I was born and raised in Paris. Close to where I lived was the sumptuous boutique/workshop of a very talented lampshade designer. I was fascinated. I however didn’t make much of it at that time. In fact, I was studying corporate law. A few years later I met my now Swiss husband. Upon getting married we decided to move back to his native Switzerland, being in love with that country.
In Switzerland, I resumed my law studies. That’s when I had my first “aha moment”! Swiss law is indeed completely different than French law. As a result I was lost! I tried the bar exams twice but failed. In the end, after 15 years of law studies, I found myself jobless and goalless. All of this was very challenging. I got to the point where I questioned all my life choices. Tough period!
That’s when Lampshade design came back into my life, becoming a viable career option. However, the road to lampshade design isn’t an easy one; there is no official training. You’ve to be lucky enough to find an artisan who is willing to pass on his craft and who believes in you, which was my case.
It took me 10 years of training to become a full-on professional. By the way, I’m still training myself. There is always something new to learn in the art of making lampshades.
Emilie: Why the name “VdV Créations”?
Laurence: It’s a tribute to my origins. My family originally comes from “Auvergne”, from a little village called “Vialard”, which stands for the first V. The second V is for “Venzac”, my grand-father’s last name. Additionally, the V shape is also a hint to my art as it’s one of the many traditional lampshade’s structure.
Emilie: What do you like the most in your job?
Laurence: Everything! I love the creative process, the contact with the clients, working for two different markets: professionals and private customers. I also like the fact that my job is almost like meditation. When I start creating a lampshade, I delve into it and loose track. It’s very soothing. And finally, I love the contact with the other fine crafts makers. I meet incredible talented people. In a nutshell, you’ve to be passionate to do this job! It’s a lot of efforts and it takes time to get known and make a living out of it. You don’t do this job to get rich!
Emilie: How long does it take to create a lampshade?
Laurence: On average between 1h and 1h30. The more intricate the design and the shape of the lampshade, the longer, especially if a shell has to be added to the structure. Smaller lampshades which are more delicate also take longer as they can only be handmade.
Emilie: What advice would you give someone wanting to start this job?
Laurence: Two key words: passion and patience.
You’ve to express your passion; it’s to be “visceral”. If you’re sure of your choice, get in touch with a lampshade maker to start your training. If you live in France, there is even a dedicated website “Entreprises du patrimoine vivant”!
You also have to be humble and realise you won’t earn anything for the next 4 years during your training. You’ve to be willing to dedicate your entire life, professionally and most of your personal, to your passion/job.
Emilie: How is your business going to evolve in the next few years?
Laurence: I’ve many projects! A new website more focused on e-shopping. A product line of ready-made but customizable lampshades aimed at high-end industry clients.
Thanks Laurence for this lovely moment and for your time!
As for you my sweet readers, let me know if you enjoyed this article? I’d love to hear your feedback.