Get ready because this week I bring you one of my most inspirational designer interviews. I am honored the lovely Kelly LaPlante, Editorial Director at Trove Market, is the featured designer on AnthologyHouse. Not just because she is an amazingly talented designer but because I believe in her philosophy that you can reuse and make less of a footprint on the environment through eco-friendly design choices.
As an accomplished designer, author, and tv host, Kelly was at the forefront of introducing sustainable interior design in the U.S. She has been featured in several publications including Sunset, Dwell, and Traditional Home, and tv shows on HGTV and the Sundance Channel.
I was humbled when Kelly asked me to join as a partner seller with Trove Market, an online marketplace for buyers and sellers to connect over preloved furniture and home decor. What sets Trove apart from other online sites is you actually get to see and touch the item you are interested in purchasing. Potential buyers login to their Trove account via Facebook, which allows them to see shared connections with a seller and ultimately make a more trustworthy connection.
I had fun chatting with Kelly over mail as we discussed how I would become a seller on Trove for the Seattle area. I immediately connected with her and was thrilled when she asked me to do an interview. And so I bring you our conversation below...
Alyse : Kelly, you are a talented designer who can take a diamond in the rough piece of furniture and make it sparkle again. What motivated you to get involved in sustainable design?
Kelly : My parents got married when they were just out of high school and then had kids in their early 20s—so they were sort of on the "young, broke and in love" track. Growing up, we always had all of our needs (and many of our wants) provided for, but being resourceful with what we had was standard operating procedure.
When I entered the design world, I was sort of blown away with how much waste was produced and how often people would just throw things out and start over. It just killed me, inside! So, when I was still in my early 20s, I decided to go out on my own and focus my practice on helping people find ways to reuse what they already owned. That was in the late 1990s when "green design" wasn't really a thing, yet, but as that movement grew, I grew with it—and I was really lucky to become part of the leadership that fostered more sustainable practices.
Alyse : You have overseen the design of some impressive commercial projects including the Miller Lite VIP Lounge at SXSW, the Lexus Hybrid Living Suites at Fairmount Hotels, and the Bancroft Hotel. How did you implement eco friendly pieces into these projects?
Kelly : We're so lucky, now, that so many companies are producing more sustainable pieces. Even bigger companies have employed some extraordinary standards that have really changed the game. So sourcing sustainable new products is easier than ever! Still, my go-to is reuse. There is nothing more eco-friendly than using something that takes up no new resources, whatsoever.
For the Lexus Hybrid Living Suites, we used a lot of the existing furniture from the suites and just had things reupholstered and refinished, locally—same thing at Bancroft! For Miller Lite, we were under a major time crunch (less than a week!) so I shopped floor models from West Elm and Ikea—both of those companies have done a great job of bringing sustainable practices into the main stream, and I'm happy to support them when buying secondhand isn't an option
Alyse : What made you decide to get involved with Trove Market and how are you spreading the word of sustainable design throughout the U.S.?
Kelly : Trove and I share a passion for finding extraordinary secondhand things and putting them to use. I started talking to them when they were in R&D... we just had a strong affinity for each other and wanted to stay in touch. Then they launched and one day I got a phone call asking if I'd come play with them for awhile! It was a really easy thing to say yes to.
One of the best parts of my job with Trove is that I get to look for ways to engage with the communities where we have a presence—Austin being one of them. About a month ago, I met an amazing woman named Stacy Johnson who recently opened a group home for children. I went to visit the space and was so impressed with everything she had done to get it up and running so quickly! All that's missing now is a little "house warming" so I asked if Trove could help with that! I recruited 8 local designers to help decorate with better lighting (currently flourescent—yikes!), rugs, art and other things that will help make this space feel more like home. We have a lot of wonderful partners who are donating all of the things that we need. We'll be installing it all on October 7th—I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!
Alyse : As a collector of vintage home decor, do you have a favorite piece at your home? Where did you acquire your treasure?
Kelly : My favorite piece is a glass globe paperweight that I inherited from my grandmother. When I was a little girl I used to stare into it and imagine that fairies lived there. It's just sort of magical, to me. I get really calm when I look at it.
Alyse : You are about to open two new restaurants in Austin - Odelay and The Upper East Side - as both co-owner and designer. What made you decide to start not only one restaurant, but two?
Kelly : This was actually the brainchild of my friend, Jason Hicks. He lives very near this abandoned grocery store building and has been dreaming of a restaurant and coffee shop being there, for years (it's too big for just one thing). After asking just about every restaurateur in town to open something there, he finally decided to take matters into his own hands! He asked me if I would help him out and that's found myself in the restaurant business! Jason is really spearheading it all—I just get to do fun things like branding and designing the concept and space, I won't be very involved in the day-to-day operations, once it's open. It's been a lot of fun to learn about what it takes to get a restaurant open—but, boy, what a long road!
Alyse : Thank you Kelly for chatting with me about Trove and the sustainable design movement you've successfully led. I look forward to hearing back from you on all the exciting projects you and the team at Trove are spearheading in the sustainable design community.
To read more about Trove Market and to see Kelly's interview with me, please check out their blog and follow them here:
And to see more of Kelly's designs and her lookbook, you can follow her here: