Monday, April 25, 2011

Laura Clayton Baker: Good Shepherd Interview


Good Shepherd Center Interview: Laura Clayton Baker

Laura Clayton Baker grew up in Boston.She received her BFA from Parsons School of Design in New York. Since moving to Los Angeles, she has spent many years designing an eclectic group of homes and offices, creating spaces which her clients tell her are a pleasure to live in and to work in. What unites all these spaces is a desire for simplicity and clarity, enriched by warm textures such as heavy linens, soft velvets, and rich woods, compelling colors both subtle and highly saturated, and the sculptural interaction of forms that the right furniture and accessories provide. Her many years of close collaboration with clients have taught her to find beauty in an environment well suited to its function, as well as in the happiness it brings to all the senses. Laura and her husband Steven live in a mid-century Craig Ellwood house in Santa Monica Canyon, with their children Jed and Lucie and their dog Domino, not far from Laura’s office in Brentwood.

With Laura’s artistic take on design we can’t wait to see the room she creates for the GSCDP. We also couldn’t wait to ask her about why she became involved in the Good Shepherd Charity Design Project.

TP: How did you hear about the GS Design Project?
LB: About a year ago I was researching a philanthropic way to use my design skills. I thought about organizing a show house kind of project that could turn into low income housing, but I never found the perfect way to get it going. About that time Sasha Emerson told me about the project Vanessa De Vargas organized last year for transitional homeless housing with Upward Bound, and we took a tour of the beautiful rooms. I was really sorry not to have been able to participate in that one, and joined DNG right away, letting Vanessa know I’d be up for the next project. I was thrilled to see this one turn up, and am excited to be able to take on a room.

TP: Why did you choose to design a room?
LB: I’m a strong believer in the ability for environment to be a catalyst for personal change. Having a chance to create a space that can give a homeless woman a sense that she’s cared for, that she’s important, and that life can be joyful, is an incredible opportunity. I find colors can give enormous pleasure, so that will a focus for me. By my choices I hope to help this woman find a place of calm and order while creating excitement about future possibilities. I hope to help instill a feeling of pride and self respect. I want to do this with materials that are very inexpensive so that she might carry some of the ideas into her next home. 

TP: What do you think the biggest challenge of the project will be?
LB: In my work I design a lot of custom built in furniture, which works well in a small space. For budget reasons I can’t turn to that, so I need to find other creative solutions. It’s a compelling challenge!

TP: Do you have an inspirational photo for this project?
LB: There are inspirational artists, but not one photo… artists like Maira Kalman who use color in a joyful way which I plan to make a part of my approach.

TP: What are you most looking forward to with the project?
LB: I love the process…seeing the room come together, and working on it in a very hands on way. Being fully responsible is exciting; as of course normally I work with a client… this time it’s all up to me. I’d love to be there when the first woman to make herself at home there first sees the space.

TP: All the rooms at Good Shepherd are dorm size, what advice or tip do you have for someone decorating a space this small? 
LB: Clean lines are important, to create an ordered space. There should be places to put everything so that the room feels restful. You can create architecture in a small space through the use of paint and pattern. There shouldn’t be too many objects around as it will feel busy, just a few favorite things.

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