Laura Zindel Design, the collaboration of Laura and her husband, Thorsten Lauterbach, has been creating beautiful objects for the home since 1997. Laura and Thor, along with a small staff of artisans, create fine ceramics, dinnerware, and gift items from the converted barn of the Partridge House, a 1778 farmhouse located in Guilford, Vermont.
We asked Laura some questions about her background, her life and what inspires her. She graciously responded with some great insight as to what goes into, not only physically making these pieces but also thought wise. Thanks so much Laura.
Blackbird- Where were you raised? And how has that affected your work?
Laura- I was raised in a suburb in CT. While it was a burb, it was very rural. We lived on the edge of a forest that turned into the meadows that led to the CT River. When we were around 7 my neighbor Roger and I spent our days out there. I don't know what my mother thought we were doing, but we played in an old abandoned shack down by the river. It had a bed and one of those old ice boxes and a rusty car in it. There was an old man by the river vibe to the place and it was kind of creepy, but we liked it and it was ours. One summer Roger secretly collected little tree toads and stored them in a box on the side of the house. He gave them to me one day as a sort of love letter, there were hundreds of them. They were all dead of course and I was horrified, but it was a pretty cool effort. So I don't know how any of this has affected my work, but those days of running wild are some of my fondest memories.
Laura- I have loved clay since the 5th grade when someone brought in a pottery wheel to school. I can't remember a time after that when I was not involved in making things out of clay on a regular if not daily basis. It was just something that I had to do, I don't recommend it for everyone.
Blackbird- What is the relationship between the pieces and the images on them?
Laura- I got to a place making ceramics when I realized that what interests me the most is the surface of the clay and the decorating possibilities. My big break came when I figured out a way to combine my love of drawing with a pencil to the ceramic process. It took many years to get the drawings (that are translated through silk screen printing into enamel transfers), to look the way that I wanted, and to be a good enough quality to be really functional. But now I have the perfect marriage of all the things that I love on objects that people can use and touch. I think of the forms as functional canvas. I am happy that people will use my work in their everyday lives and be apart of their meals and celebrations. I hope that they don't sit around and collect dust.
Blackbird- Seeing your pieces in House Beautiful in full table spreads is amazing and adds so much texture to an ordinary meal. What is your favorite meal to serve/cook?
Laura- My husband Thor is the cook in our family. I can make suggestions for a meal but he is the one that makes them taste good. He was a cook in the German army so I can invite over as many people as I want. When we have a party I choose the serving dishes, set the table and put out the candles and flowers....I like to make things comfortable. We have a lot of really nice parties with way too much food and wine. We don't have a favorite meal, but we have a lot of favorite people and that's what counts.
Blackbird - Coffee or tea?
Laura- Coffee please, lots of cream no sugar.
Blackbird- What are you favorite kinds of flowers and why?
Laura - I like sculptural flowers like Allium and Calla Lilies growing in my lettuce and basil. I like old lady garden flowers like Peonies and Holly Hocks and Daisies because they get gigantic. I would put Peony bushes all over my yard if I had a million flower dollars. I have a small blood red Dahlia garden that blooms all summer. I cannot ever bring myself to cut one down because they are perfect. There is a Quince bush in my yard that is the first thing to flower in the spring, I wait for it to show up like an old friend. It is bright fuchsia pink and it looks like fire when everything else is still waking up. I cut big boughs of it for easter egg trees and the color attracts hummingbirds to the porch. I really want a tea cup magnolia tree. I drive around town and covet my neighbors trees, is that bad? Ok, I should stop..I love all the flowers. It is March in Vermont so that question is like being hungry at the grocery store.
Blackbird - What has been inspiring lately and what are things that you just come back to all the time for inspiration?
Laura - I am working on a forest series, with plants of the Pacific North West. (perfect for Blackbird!) wild hare, squirrel, mushrooms, a boar maybe? ...If there is a critter it must have an environment, so I go back and forth between Flora and Fauna. I spent the winter collecting my reference materials and I am looking forward to getting started. I have to do new work in cycles, I can't draw here and there. I need to kind of submerge and get a rhythm going and I don't always have the privilege of uninterrupted time. Sometimes I have to check into a hotel. I have drawn a lot of collections alone in hotel rooms while watching law and order marathons.
The scarab beetle was my first drawing on clay, I started with insects, so I will always return to them for inspiration.