Bon weekend! This Fab Friday, I’m chatting with Kelly Laplante, the renowned interior designer behind Standard magazine and recent author of Ecologique: The Style of Sustainable Design. Talk about a one-woman show…Kelly, based in Austin, Texas, has designed residences everywhere from Austin to Los Angeles to Las Vegas to the Caribbean, all the while sharing her philosophy that “green is a standard, not a style.” That same philosophy has inspired her two-year-old European-style design magazine, Standard, which features exclusively sustainable content in every issue.
Kelly has popped up all over the media, appearing on programs such as HGTV’s Design Wars, Sundance Channel’s The Lazy Environmentalist and Big Ideas for a Small Planet, Discovery Home Channel’s Greenovate, Good Day New York, KTLA News, Good Day Dallas, Good Day Atlanta, and Martha Stewart Radio. And today, she has the pleasure of chatting with me! (Just kidding…the pleasure is all mine!)
Robin Baron: Tell me about what you do.
Kelly LaPlante: At Standard we are all about showcasing responsible, artisanal design without hitting our readers over the head with eco-speak. We hope our readers will work with the designers and companies who we feature because they are doing amazing work… the icing on the cake is that they are also practicing sustainable design. As Editorial Director, it’s my job to keep my team inspired so we can inspire our readers. I get to meet exceptional people and discover new exciting design every day… and I’m constantly conceptualizing unique ways to produce features and to present content to our readers. It’s challenging but it is also one of the most fun jobs ever.
RB: You were a designer before you founded Standard. What kinds of projects did you do?
KL: Thankfully I am still a designer! I scaled back my design practice for the first year and a half, when Standard was a baby, but now I am allowing myself to get pretty busy again. I’m currently working on an eco-lodge on the island of Dominica, in the West Indies—an unbelievably wonderful project to be a part of. I also just completed a collection of couture-inspired tiles for Fireclay Tile who I have worked with for years on a lot of my projects. There are a handful of special residential projects, an eco-facelift for the Austin Music Hall and a few other licensing projects also all in the works.
RB: What does eco-friendly design mean to you?
KL: First, I think it is important to establish that there is no such thing as eco-perfect. There are designers and companies who are doing everything they can to make their products as eco-friendly as possible but there is always room for improvement. So I like to work with those who never rest on their laurels… who are always looking for ways to do more. There are many ways to be green from how something is produced, to what it is made from, to who makes it and how they are treated—there is no one right answer for what makes something green. After years of doing this, I can honestly say that I have developed a gut for knowing when a company is truly working toward sustainability and when they are just blowing green smoke.
RB: What inspired you to found Standard?
KL: I really felt like it was time for a publication where green was assumed as a baseline criteria… as if calling a product sustainable is like saying that an oven gets hot—it’s just a given. A lot of magazines that are exclusively green come off as a bit preachy to me. I wanted people to have something they could just open up and be inspired by… oh, and it happens to be eco.
RB: What is Standard all about?
KL: Standard is about being daring and edgy, having fun with design, not over-fluffing or over-lighting, finding beauty in the lived-in space, discovering artisans and connecting with the collective conscious of designers and artists around the world.
RB: How would you describe your own home décor?
KL: French Cowboy. I’m a relatively recent transplant to Austin and I wanted to embrace a bit of Texas… but I’m a Francophile through and through, so it is kind of like I am saying “Bonjour y’all!”
RB: What’s a piece in your home that everyone comments on?
KL: A triptique by Ellwood T. Risk. It’s very sexy and powerful and has moved with me several times.
RB: What does fabulous mean to you?
KL: Fabulous is not just about the design but also the story behind the design. If I see an amazing piece but it was made in China at some horrible factory, that just sucks all the fabulous right out.