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25 June 2019

Candice Lau, from graphic design to leatherwork

Meeting with London based artist Candice Lau. Exploring the creative mind and artistic vision of a graphic designer turned leatherworker.

© Candice Lau

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and how leatherwork came into your life ?

My career as a leather crafts person started at a very specific moment in 2011. My boss from a previous career in design offered to buy me an industrial sewing machine for Christmas. At the same time, a colleague gave me a piece of hide he had lying around at home. So one night, I crudely cut into the leather with kitchen scissors and the needle on the machine fumbled through the thick leather in an attempt to make a bag. Finally, I managed to make my first leather bag, badly sewn yet beautifully shaped. From that moment, I decided that I needed to learn the leather crafting skills that will make my work more refined. Since then, I started working with leather. Initially as a hobby but over time, it became my career.

© Candice Lau

Is your brand a culmination of both your professional and personal experience ? Would your creations look the same if it wasn’t for your years as a graphic designer ?

My brand of leather bags is definitely a culmination of my professional and personal experience. Previous to being a leather craftsperson, I worked in graphic design and have developed a creative language of strong bold colours and dynamic shapes. This language is certainly evident in the bags I create today for Studio Candice Lau and I believe this is what inspires my clients who come to me for bespoke designs as well. Meanwhile, I’ve been an avid traveller all my life and my observations of the people, architecture, styles and colours have in no doubt been translated into my collection.

© Candice Lau

What role does London as a creative hub play when designing a new collection ?

In London, you are definitely up against a large community of really creative people. Being the multicultural centre that it is, the designs out there are varied and incredible. It is fantastic to have such inspiration at your doorstep and it definitely drives you to be more experimental. From a business point of view, being amongst the myriad of creatives and craftspeople, you have to work really hard and fast to make your mark and stand out.

© Candice Lau

Having being recognised for your talent by great brands, does it fuel you to continue your craft and further your style ? What does the future hold for Studio Candice Lau ?

I feel like at the moment I am at a turning point for the brand. I am looking to take some time off to create more experimental work and develop a stronger creative language. So far, bags and accessories have been my main interest and when designing, it is difficult to stop myself from adding a handle or strap to every vessel I make. I wish to really shift my way of thinking and explore how to manipulate the leather to change how we perceive a piece of hide, either through weaving, braiding, moulding, etc. As well, I am looking beyond just working with leather but exploring new ways to combine different materials in my new work.

© Candice Lau

Finally, what would you say to a young designer starting his/her leatherwork career ?

I meet a lot of people starting their own leather brand and I commend them for taking this step. However, to be successful, you would need more than just drive to be entrepreneurial but to have a really stand out product. I would say to these individuals to really take the time to create and design something extra-ordinary and make yourself stand out. The bags and accessories industry is really saturated and it is next to impossible to compete with the brands on the high street. Unless you are prepared to spend 95% of your time marketing your brand and convincing the customer that your bag is different to that on the high street, you’ would need to create something really special. So go forth and be experimental and enjoy that process!

© Candice Lau

You can follow Candice and keep up with her latest creations on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and on her website.

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