A look at LA-Based Laurel & Wolf through its eyes-on-the-prize founder Leura Fine
Written by Jenn Thornton | Interior photos courtesy of Chriselle Lim | Headshot photo courtesy of Ben Hoffman
Accessibility is a luxury, a notion Leura Fine’s online design platform, Laurel & Wolf, is banking on to revolutionize the design industry—a realm she knows well. The 28-year-old interior designer-turned-CEO cut her teeth working alongside titan of good taste Martyn Lawrence Bullard on everything from celebrity residences and Italian castles to co-branded product lines and reality TV (Million Dollar Decorators). Here, she details the finer points of merging design and technology—with virtual ease.
Why Laurel & Wolf?
As an interior designer, I saw how technology had drastically shifted the way people were approaching designing their homes and businesses. Pinterest and Houzz were often used for inspiration, and e-commerce had made better-looking products accessible to customers at a wide array of price points, but still wasn’t solving the problem of putting it all together. Everything around interior design was moving into the future, except for design services. It seemed crazy to me. I would meet people who desperately wanted and needed professional design help but couldn’t afford it or didn’t understand how to access interior designers. Meanwhile, almost every designer I know was looking for ways of building their own businesses. Other opaque and offline industries have successfully leveraged technology to move into the future, so why shouldn’t interior design?
Has the response surprised you?
The response has been truly amazing. Our clients are very diverse. We have designed everything from Modern to Coastal spaces within varying budgets. Our clients are looking to be understood by designers, for [designers] to provide savvy designs, and for Laurel & Wolf to support the process.
How does the process work?
Laurel & Wolf’s talented interior designers from across the country leverage our proprietary easy-to-use platform. Instead of paying per hour, as with a traditional interior design firm, clients pay a one-time flat fee to receive designs and design expertise from Laurel & Wolf designers. After taking our fun style quiz and providing information about their spaces, clients launch a design project and begin receiving preliminary style boards—three to six, typically—called ‘First Looks’ from designers.
Clients pick a winning designer and work one-on-one with that person to complete the design of their space. Our Final Design Package includes final style boards, a floor plan, set-up instructions and shopping list with links to all products.
Why is this approach resonating?
Laurel & Wolf’s online marketplace model uniquely solves the pain of finding and working with a designer who matches clients’ personal design aesthetics at affordable rates. We connect designers to customers nationwide without them having to spend time or money on marketing costs, admin, billing, contracts and more. We set clear expectations on both sides of the marketplace and provide easy and open communication channels, so that it is a far more collaborative process than ever before.
You’ve essentially streamlined the process, making it more efficient for both designer and client.
Our process is easy to use, easy to access and collaborative. Our thinking is that you can have custom items made and site visits and oversee installations and do the things that need to be done in person for the clients who can afford it, but there is no reason why every design process shouldn’t happen virtually.
How are designers selected?
We work with hundreds of designers who specialize in different areas and styles of design. Designers are carefully hand-vetted; we review their education, work experience and portfolio to ensure the quality of work on our platform. They all understand that great design is when form meets function. They’re savvy in space planning, material selection, lighting design and have the taste to put beautiful things together.
What’s next for Laurel & Wolf?
We plan on building Laurel & Wolf into a global brand—a massive undertaking, but we feel well positioned to take on the challenge and are extremely excited about the future of the company. We are determined to change the way the world thinks about the spaces that they live and work in. It is time to democratize design and Laurel & Wolf is the company that will do it.
Laurel & Wolf
708 N. Croft Avenue, West Hollywood CA 90069