I’m not sure how much you know about Ginny and me but here’s how it went down. Ginny applied to be an intern 8 years ago, right when I was starting The Fig House (and over my head). I looked at her resume and portfolio during the interview at like “woah, she has more experience than I do” albeit in restaurant and hospitality design. I loved her despite being intimidated and knew that I needed her. She came with so many skills that I didn’t know really existed in the design world since my background was in styling. She had such a great and different eye than I did and saved so many projects. It was definitely a ying-yang thing – I learned to be more intentional and conceptual from her and I think she’d say that she learned to be riskier and looser (especially in residential) from me. Oh and we had so much fun together, became great friends and had many late nights. She worked for me through the birth of both kids, not to mention like 12 major design projects. When it was time for her to go out on her own, 5 years later, I was so happy for her as taking that step can be terrifying and still couldn’t be happier for her success.
I met up with her at a party recently (for Bobby Berk’s new line with Brady – an OG reunion!) and she told me about her upcoming furniture line with Lulu and Georgia and I remember saying (or thinking), “I’m sure it’s going to be great, but it must be hard to make a collection stand out right now, how do you even go about doing it?” Having no lines of anything myself (more on that later) I’m extremely intimidated by the prospect. So when I saw the lookbook in my email I was like “GINNY MACDONALD, YOU DID IT”. I LOVED IT and immediately wanted a few pieces for the projects we were working on. It’s so warm and modern, but feels extremely easy to use and be confident that it will be timeless. There are subtle lines and details that make it feel special and modern. We already wanted this bed for a bedroom makeover we are doing so stay tuned for when we can fully design and shoot again:)
Now I will pass it over to Ginny who let us get some “straight from the designer” answers to all of our burning questions…
Was designing your own line something you always knew you wanted to do?
We often design custom pieces for clients, as it’s a way to have fun and gives us more flexibility with colours, fabrics, sizes, and styles. We’ve been doing this for a while now and I’ve always thought about offering it on my website. The infrastructure you need to have in place and the time it takes is a lot, especially for a small business, so that has been something that’s held me back from pushing it forward. It’s essentially a full-time job. Being able to collaborate with the incredible team at Lulu and Georgia seemed like an opportunity not to pass up.
If you’ve been with us for a minute you might remember the swivel chairs from this master bedroom reveal that Ginny and Mel designed together:)
How did this collaboration with Lulu & Georgia come about? Was this something you pitched or an idea they came to you with?
I’d always wanted to do a furniture collection and it’s been something that I’d been considering for some time, but this came to fruition in a really organic way. I’d been working with Sara, the founder of Lulu and Georgia on her new Spanish-style home in LA, and throughout the design process, we knew we wanted to create some custom pieces. We designed two sofas and the bed for her master, and once they were installed, we knew we wanted to make this into something bigger, so the collaboration started from there.
How did you even go about starting? Was it materials, shapes, color palette?
Since the collection began with Sara Sugarman’s house, we started with the Belmont and Hollingworth sofas, which were designed specifically for her living room. They both float in the middle of the room, so I wanted to make sure there was some interesting detailing that can be seen from every angle. However, we didn’t want to go too ornate or fussy with the design, so we kept things on the simpler side, which I personally like, especially when it comes to the collection as I didn’t want the styles to sway in any particular direction. Since we have a lot of colour choices I wanted to give people options and for them to be used in every style of house. For example, I could see the Hollingworth sofa in Goldenrod velvet being used in a Mid-Century style house, but then it could also work in the Jade velvet in a craftsman style. I wanted people to have fun with the pieces and colours.
We are currently dreamy up even more future projects with these pieces.
We love that your line is a total expression of you, both expressing your English roots and your California life. Was that always the direction you planned to go in?
As with most of my designs, I’d say they’re a reflection of my UK upbringing and my life in California. My style isn’t the typical clean, white California coastal look, as I like colour too much. That’s why I really pushed to add some colour tones that you’d find in grand, English houses. My old rental house in London had each room painted in a different bold colour. The hallway was a rich welcoming green, the living room was a deep red, and the kitchen was a dark blue. It sounds like it would be too hectic, but it actually worked and I really wanted the colour palette to be an expression of that.
It basically looks like the ideal color palette and shapes for our new favorite style, EGG (Eccentric English Grandma) but the coolest and most chic version:)
Tell us how you start a line. Do you start with finishing one piece and then that informs the rest? Or do you just throw a bunch of ideas at the wall and design a bunch of pieces at a time?
In this case, it was a bit of a mix. With the first two sofas, they had to feel cohesive and work together, but once we had those designed it was easy enough to break them up into their own family, i.e. the sectional and side chair. We did add some pieces that I’d previously designed for clients, like the Ambleside Bed and the Grasmere Bench, but we developed those into their own family. I particularly love how the Ambleside bench and ottoman came together. Since I like to mix styles in my designs, I wanted the same for the collection and for people to be able to combine more than one piece in the same environment. That way it doesn’t feel like their room looks like something pulled from a catalogue, yet they have the ease of shopping from the same place. Same with the colours; not all of them can be combined, but I can see a lot of options working together in a cohesive way.
The signature Ginny look. Collected, clean, rich, unexpected and yet totally cohesive.
How long did it take from start to the first sample and what was the feeling like?
It was about 6 months for the first round, which was just the master bed and two sofas. The whole collection took just over a year. It isn’t normally that long with custom pieces for clients, but in this case there’s a lot more to consider from the Lulu and Georgia side. It was a very exhilarating experience seeing the pieces for the first time, and what was important to me is that they were made in LA. Touring the workshop and meeting everyone who works there was just as exciting as seeing the end results. I love the process part, as it makes you appreciate the hard work that goes into making each piece.
Now with hindsight probably being 20/20, did you learn anything unexpected about yourself or as a designer through this new process? Obviously it was exciting, but I can only imagine also pretty stressful...Especially right now with the timing of the launch.
The process has been fairly seamless, but at times it was definitely stressful. There’s a lot at stake and what the consumers don’t see is how much time and effort goes into creating something like this. And I’m really only a small portion of the process. It’s the amazing team behind Lulu and Georgia and the workshop that really made this happen. Obviously, more than anything, I want people to love what we have created and as a designer we are our own worst critic. Putting yourself out in the world these days is something you need a thick skin for.
When the pandemic hit, we were shooting the collection at a beautiful location in Los Feliz, and the following week we were set to shoot one of the pieces in my house. Between the two shoots, LA went into lockdown, so we never got the chance to do the second shoot. We also had a big launch party planned, which we had to cancel. In the grand scheme of things that didn’t really matter, and the launch was still being scheduled for April. I think the toughest part (and probably the largest learning curve) is that you cannot control everything. I’d be lying if I said I’d not toyed with the idea of asking them to postpone until fall (when hopefully things will have calmed down), but that wasn’t my call to make. My worry was that the last thing people want to see is someone shouting from the rooftops about a furniture launch when the world is really hurting right now. I just didn’t want to come across as being insensitive. I always try to find a silver lining in things and while it does feel strange to be launching at such an uncertain time, I really hope that people find some inspiration or joy from what we have created.
I’m proud of what we have achieved, and it would be wrong of me not to honor all the hard work everyone has put into this collection. From the buyers, to the social team, the stylist, the photographer, the people who have spent the last month developing the copy, the photo and video edits, the website uploads and probably a million other things I don’t even know about. While we can only do a virtual celebration at this time, I’ll be taking the champagne to the Lulu and Georgia office when we’re allowed to celebrate in person again!
Emily again! If any of you are in the market for some beautifully made furniture (in LA) then please take a peek at Ginny truly stunning collection…
1. Belmont Velvet Sofa |2. Lockwood Velvet Bed | 3. Coniston Linen Sleeper Sofa | 4. Hollingworth Linen Sectional Sofa | 5. Ambleside Velvet Bench | 6. Belmont Velvet Chair | 7. Belmont Velvet Sectional Sofa | 8. Rivington Velvet Sofa | 9. Ambleside Linen Bed | 10. Grasmere Velvet Bench | 11. Hollingworth Velvet Sofa | 12. Ambleside Velvet Ottoman
Thank you, Ginny, for this little chat and again CONGRATULATIONS! We will all be cheers-ing you with hopefully too much champagne. But wait is “too much champagne” a thing?? Also for those of you who know, love and miss Ginny, don’t worry because she just might be gracing our site with some other words of wisdom very soon. xx