Lori Weitzner is known for her contributions to the world of textiles. She has translated her signature aesthetic and sophisticated colour sense into a global business that has produced innovative textiles and wall coverings for more than 30 years. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She recently published her first book, Ode to Color, which highlights 10 essential palettes for living and design. We caught up with Lori when she was in town to launch her latest Halycon collection with Altfield – and discovered she’s as warm and dynamic as she is talented.
I’ve always been in New York, with my husband and children, who are 12 and 14. I think it’s a great thing for kids to see their mom working – I used to feel guilty travelling for work. But I’d go and they learned that mommy will always come back. Now that they’re older, they are so proud.
I just published my book Ode to Color – it’s my third child. I’ve always wanted to do a book, but it never happened until I met a publisher of HarperCollins who said to me, “I want you to find your own voice and create a book that you want to write – not what you think people will want to hear.” It became so personal.
I’m developing products everywhere in the world, which I’m really proud of. In Asia, my collections are available through Altfield.
My latest series, Halycon, is all about walking through a space and finding the calm. The reason I wanted this reflected an exterior phase I was going through while I was designing it. One of my favourite parts of each collection is the artisanal aspects. Handmade can have a negative connotation, but when it’s done properly with attention to detail and the ultimate sophistication, it brings everything to a whole new level – pure luxury.
I want to create more innovative products. We have Magnetism – a magnetic linen wall covering, where magnets can be placed directly onto the surface – and a stone wall covering that’s so thin it can wrap beautifully around wall columns.
I see a lot of interesting stuff out there that’s not beautiful. I want to be the person that comes in and makes it beautiful, because there’s a place and an importance for that. I also want to keep talking about colour. I think colour drives things and it needs to become more of its own language. When people understand what colours move them, they’ll be able to walk into an Altfield, either with a designer or as a consumer, and know what they want. I want people to stop following trends so much, and start understanding what colours they feel good in.
It’s all about an emotional connection. Some people think it’s a luxury to have good design – but it’s a necessity, in my opinion. Design matters, because if you get it right, it elevates your senses. And once your senses are elevated, you’ll live better, be more productive, be happier, fight less – and that begins, for me in my world, with colour.
I was a painting major at school. My professor at the time asked me, “What are you going to do to make a living?” I said, “Be a painter.” He told me I wasn’t good enough, but I had a good sense of colour and composition, so I should change my major to textile design. So I switched and I never looked back.