lola lely: a designing surrealist with romantic thoughts


Lola Lely is one of the designers that my Depot Basel colleague Rebekka Kieswetter and I put immediately on the list of the designers that we wanted to approach for our Craft & Drawing exhibition. For us she was a real find from last year’s London Design Festival. I visited Lola in her studio in East London a few months ago. She shares a a studio house in a backyard of an residential area with 2 other designers. The tiny space she has for herself is filled with colourful drawings and material samples that represents a diversity of marbling aesthetics. During our conversation she pointed out that she sees her work as a collection, not necessarily as individual projects – comparable to a fashion collection. That’s why you will see three of their projects at the show – they simply belong together.

Lola actually left England as a teenager for many years and lived in Mexico. One of her motivations to explore the country was to see Frida Kahlo’s blue house. “I wanted to see the Frida Kahlo Blue House in Mexico City. I was really into magical realism genre books as a young girl. My favourite books were and still: ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ and ‘The Master and Margarita’. Then I saw a picture of this artist Frida Kahlo in a magazine. She looked so arrogant, knowing, assertive, rebellious and vulnerable. I could identify with this at age 15! So I read all about her (the days before the internet was common) and this blue house which she grew up and died in was so interesting, as it held so many memories and stories. There was a period of Frida’s life at the blue house were it was an artists and political sanctuary. Leon Trotsky, Paul Klee and marxist intellectuals stayed there.”

I had the biggest smile on my face when she send us a picture of the artistic drawing, a self-portrait, she made for the Craft & Drawing exhibition next month. I send her an email back immediately: “Dear Lola, on your drawing you look like Mexican gipsy, surrounded by your work, remembering your encounter with Frida Kahlo, that changed your way of looking at life and your work, back then when you spend flamboyant nights with her in her blue house.” I can’t wait to see it in a frame.


Material samples – Lola shares her way of working on her website The New Collectivism


Drawings of Patina Candlesticks for this year’s Wallpaper Handmade edition


Patina Candelsticks at Wallpaper at L’Eclettico during Salone del Mobile 2013


Drawings of Patina Lights


Patina Lights at Lola’s collective WORKs: Royal College of Art Graduates


Drawings of suspended lights








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