1. Your name is certainly unique, can you tell us a little bit behind it?
It's really silly and has nothing to do with letters, or lights. It was a little in-joke between myself and my husband Kane. He did university level French (and failed). When we left restaurants after a meal he thought he was saying to me "let's hit the road Jack" or something like "frapper la prise de la route". Instead he used to say "let's fromage la rue" (Cheese the Street is the rough translation). When we designed our first light and registered a business name, we both thought it would be funny to call it Fromage la Rue. We never thought the lights would take off in the way they did, we may have thought a bit harder about our business name, but then again, it's quirky and we think that suits us.
2. Where do you get your inspiration from for each light design?
Initially when we started in 2009 you couldn't buy a marquee light anywhere, not even in the States, so the lack of this kind of lighting inspired us initially. You could buy true vintage pieces that had been taken down off a factory wall, but no one was doing commercial replicas. We had a mutual obsession with the Las Vegas Boneyard/Neon museum and vintage signage for years, so we were and still are heavily influenced by discarded lighting sculptures. We also look to typography, architecture, graffiti and any form of beauty in decay for inspiration.
3. If business becomes overwhelming or too much to handle, what’s your remedy for a bad day (if you’ve had any?).
Red wine! And exercise, I'll go for a run around the Byron Bay lighthouse and finish off with a walk through the rain forest. Just getting out into nature is the best cure for stress and we live in such a beautiful part of Australia, away from cities in a quiet country town. We've had so many bad days, I think it's part and parcel of product design, especially when you're accidental product designers. Our backgrounds are in digital media (3D modelling, web, architecture), so there have been many steep learning curves along the way. When you're dealing with an electrical product too, it's not something you can rush, and add to that the fact they are a children's product, the stakes are even higher.
4. We adore the lights you’ve designed and think each one is unique, but do you have a favorite and why?
The cloud! That was my first design that Kane stepped away from, he's a 3D artist so he pretty much creates the lights based on what I'm after, but the cloud was the exact shape I wanted, I didn't want it to have a flat base, it needed to look organic and light, but also suitable for a boy or a girl's room. We've done some amazing oversized work too, our giant LOVE sign was a huge undertaking and the results blew us away. We've stepped away from event lighting and prop design now to concentrate on interior lighting.
5. What does a good business day look like for Fromage La Rue?
Collaborating with other designers, seeing photos customers post of our lights on Instagram in their own homes, and coming up with a solution to a logistical or design-based problem. I love it when something seems impossible and then you work out a way to make it work, there's pretty much always an answer out there. I'm very lucky to be able to work from home, so I always finish in time to pick up my kids and spend the afternoon with them, that's a good business day for me, a nice balance of work and family.
6. Fast forward five years. Where do you see Fromage La Rue then or hope to be?
I'd love to have at least 2 more ranges released by then, and move into other areas other than lighting. We've just launched our range internationally so I'd like to travel to visit our retailers. I'd like to create a collaborative warehouse space here in Byron Bay, and round up all the fabulous talent we have in this region in one place, I've got this work fantasy of being able to roller-skate around the warehouse, how awesome would that be! And finally we'll be working closely with a charity like the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, I'm passionate about human rights, especially those of Australia's first people, so I imagine we'll be doing some fabulous work with the ILF by then.