Member Since 2010
Name: L'Aviva by Laura Aviva
Location: New York City
Product: Turkish Hammam Towels
Laura Aviva knows a thing or two about creating a mood, which she does so well with L'Aviva the collection of textiles, decorative objects and other home decor goodies she launched in 2007. Prior to turning her talents to scouring far-flung regions of the world for Bolivian rosewood vases, Cameroonian juju hats, Vietnamese lacquer boxes and Turkish hammam towels, Aviva spent seven years working as Creative Director at Travel + Leisure magazine, and was an event producer in Los Angeles prior to that. Just three years old, her eponymous company collaborates with some of the world's best known hotels, design firms and home decor brands, though the self-effacing designer prefers not to name names (though, trust us, they're major). As is Aviva herself.
What inspired you to create the Turkish Hammam Towels?
I am very entranced by all things Anatolian, and the pe?temals help illustrate a pretty emblematic part of the culture. The tradition of the hammam dates back to a time before the Turks arrived in Anatolia. The present day incarnation of a hammam is really the merging of multiple traditions (of the Turks, the Romans the Byzantines and the Muslims). The baths became an institution in themselves, with their own set of customs and mores. The hammams were intricately bound with everyday life, and they were great equalizers: in them, people mixed freely (rich/poor, young/old, townsman/villager). I’m incredibly drawn to the ideas of community and shared rituals, and these are things that are very much present in hammam life.
Where is this product manufactured and by whom?
The idea of incorporating these pieces into the collection actually took root in Istanbul - which is my favorite-ever city (and one where I've spent a good amount of time in hammams!). The pe?temals themselves are made in Denizli (the south of Turkey) in a village called Buldan. Buldan is famous for its textiles and its old weaving machines. Pe?temals have been woven there for many, many generations.
Can you describe your creative process?
I wouldn't say that I truly have much of a process, at least not in any formalized way. I pull inspiration from so many places and sources (hugely through travel), and the bits tend to come together/evolve pretty organically. I don't enjoy designing or creating in a vacuum; I often find collaboration to be the most rewarding part of the process. When that works, it can feel magical.
What do you love about what you do?
I love the idea of bridging cultures - listening to other people, understanding traditions and perspectives, building relationships, and just nurturing the creation of things that are beautiful.
How would you sum up your aesthetic/design philosophy?
My aesthetic morphs all the time. But there are definitely some constants. I feel best in environments that are very sparse, with hard surfaces and color palettes that are overall quite muted: blacks, whites, greys. Part of that may be because I am so bombarded with color and texture everyday - in my work and in my travel - that I find the opposite to feel quite serene. When I'm curating pieces for lavivahome.com, I like to take a step back and picture them in the context of a space that's very modern or even industrial-feeling (would it play well against concrete floors, does it work as a statement piece in that type of environment, etc). And when I'm working with artisans to develop new pieces, I aim to simplify and really concentrate on the beauty of the raw materials or the technique, to not get too busy or overwrought.
What are you working on next?
I am juggling so many things. I'm just back from a super trip to Bolivia, and am playing with some ideas there. The biggest project, one that has been more than a year in the making, is the launch of our Shyrdak felt rug collection. It's a collaboration with master artisans in Kyrgyzstan, and one that I am hugely excited about. It's been a phenomenal—and sometimes daunting—process to get to this point, and I love what's coming from it. There's also a project that I've been dying to develop in Southern India—2011 is going to be the year to make that happen.
What would you like to do, other than your current occupation?
This current incarnation of what I am doing is still pretty new to me. I'm enjoying the ride. It feels pretty dreamy.