Design shop backs new artists

The opening of Laura Lea's pop-up shop in Leytonstone

The opening of Laura Lea’s pop-up shop in Leytonstone Credit: Phoebe Fox

An entrepreneur has made it her mission to help discover and promote emerging artists.

Borough resident Laura Lea opened a temporary design shop next to Leytonstone tube station this summer and says she is determined that local creativity is supported and allowed to flourish.

The site, formerly occupied by Boots, was made available by Transport for London and Waltham Forest Council for viable ‘pop-up’ business concepts, as part of a drive to make more creative use of the borough’s unused spaces.

Laura knew her experience of running a temporary boutique in Tower Hamlets and an exhibition at the Dreamspace gallery near Old Street could help her submit a strong application.

The bid was successful, and by regularly attending arts fairs across London to find products which inspire her, Laura carefully selected 19 artists to sell their work at the pop-up boutique for six weeks, ending on 31st August.

A vast array of lighting, kitchenware and signage went on offer, as well as print designs and original art. About 40 percent of of it was made exclusively for the project.

Ensuring artists get a fair price for their work is important to Laura. “I’m almost religious about making sure people get what they deserve,” she said.

One of the reasons I embarked on this business to begin with was that a lot of my friends weren’t getting a good deal, they were being taken advantage of and they weren’t being given proper representation.

It was the fact that they were really struggling to get out there and sell what I could see were really amazing products that inspired me to start out on this road.”

The story behind the products also matters greatly to Laura and she encourages people to find out about them before buying anything.

This is based on a philosophy of telling a story,” she said. “It’s about connecting the client with the artist.

When people come into the store, they learn about where the thing that they’re buying has come from and who has made it.

I look to develop my relationships with artists and designers and I’m very invested in what they’re doing.”

By James Wood

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