Do you want to eat lunch before or after?” My focus snapped from the display of trinkets and treasures carefully arranged along the counter that ran the length of the Weitzner Limited studio. With all of the clean, perfectly organized surfaces, the studio could have felt cold and inhospitable; instead, it was as warm and inviting as Lori Weitzner herself, who was presently inquiring about our appetites.
The beauty of the Weitzner studio is that it functions as so much more than a workspace—it’s the embodiment of Lori and her design team’s
travels, experiences, and influences, from the color-coded library to the curled-up paper high heel displayed behind Plexiglas. As Otis Redding’s voice began to croon from the stereo in the corner, i+s staff photographer Matt Olive looked up from behind the camera. “This is a really great playlist.”
And it’s no wonder with Weitzner’s artist background and work with artisans from around the world that the studio would act as a gallery of sorts. Having begun university as a fine arts major chasing the dream of becoming a famous painter, Weitzner credits a naysaying professor for her transition into textiles. As her career took off, her wanderlust kicked in, drawing her around the world to seek out new designs and materials, and leading her to work with local artisans to create her stunning wallcoverings, textiles, and trim.
When asked which country was her favorite, she smiled and shook her head; there’s just too much beauty and uniqueness in each place to choose.
That loving draw to the unique, and slightly-imperfect-perfection that comes out of handmade products is obvious in the final product. Weitzner pointed out a woven wall covering and exclaims, “It’s selling successfully, so what does that tell you? The soul of that artisan is in the product, and people love that. Especially in this high-tech era—to have things that are soulful and tactile, and made from pure things—it’s really cool.”
Of course, working with artisans half a world away isn’t without its challenges. A couple of years ago, their abaca fields were washed out in a typhoon, halting production on custom orders—a delay no designer wants to deal with. Weitzner’s response: They filmed the fields and the artisans at work. “We sent videos to show them why things were late, and when they see these artisans, they get it.” It’s this humanization of a process that is usually kept out-of-sight, out-of-mind that elevates Weitzner Limited above and beyond.
“It’s challenging, but all worth it.”