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MEET the DESIGNER - Nathalie Lete

posted on November 07 2013

What do Tim Burton, Charlotte Gainsbourg and the boss at Laduree all have in common? They own a Nathalie Lete rug. This painter's work has a contagious cheerful nostalgia, Lete's sophisticated palette let's you into her own glamorous and enchanting world, where elves play with dolls and polka dots run free.  

Nathalie Lete, 49 

Married? Yes

Mother to

Angele, 18 and Oskar, 15

Based in

Near Paris in the south suburb: Ivry Sur Seine... because it was the only way to have a big studio near our home.

Where are you from?

I’m born in France, from a german mother and a chinese father.

Tell us a little about you? 

I am a woman who enjoys her life and job... and who does what I already enjoyed doing when I was a child. 

How do you feel about inspiring future little citizens of the world?

I feel glad and happy to be able to inspire kids…I was myself very inspired by a couple of women I knew when I was a kid, and I wanted to be like them... so it is very important to be inspired by someone and to have a goal.

How did the idea for your business come about?

Step by step… things developed slowly into a business... but at the beginning, I felt more like an artist. 

What were some of your biggest challenges in starting your business?

To stay what I am with all my dreams and envies...and not become too much a company, a label... try to always find a balance between both, an artist and a business woman… it is quite hard sometimes to find the right balance.

What’s innovative about what you do? In terms of your craft, design or sourcing?

I don’t try to innovate something… I just try to do things that I want to see around me. 

Can you name any celebrity followers?

I don’t really know who my buyers are, because I sell only some few products by myself.but I know that Tim Burton bought one of my rug, also the bos of Laduree has one in his office and Charlotte Gainsbourg has also one rug...

What’s the best compliment you have ever been paid?

When people recognise that I’m the creator... it means that in spite of doing so many different things, I have only two hands and it all comes from my heart.

Managing a business and having a family is a lot of work, what’s your secret for staying organised?

In fact to have concentration, I need to sleep enough, so it is sad but I spend a lot of time in my life in my bed, it means I don’t go out often... all my life is job and family.

What’s the best part of being your own boss?

To feel free,even if I’m not really…

How do you feel about motherhood?

I’m a mother but feel more as an artist.

I felt the passion of motherhood specially when my kids were babies, it was a animal feeling. Then it changes and you feel more you have the responsibility that they become happy adults for their future. 

How have you changed since you became a parent?

In my artist life to be parent helps me don’t be focus only in myself.

Also since I’m parent I collect toys for them, so it was the beginning of  painting them also. And I really enjoy vintage toys.

To be parent helps me to be more balanced I suppose.

What is unique about designing for children?

I don’t really design for children.. I design and some products suit kids, but it is not my first goal…my idea is to draw, then it becomes a product because companies ask me to use my designs on their children wares... but my way of working is exactly the same if the product is for a kid or for an adult.

What are your future plans for your business / designs?

I‘m working for the moment on the decoration of a showroom, that I will open to the public by appointment. 

What is your favourite smell?

Orange blossom, myrhe like the scent in the churches, pines ,chocolate cake, poos of the horses..all the smells that remain with me from my childhood.

What’s your most treasured possession?

My watch that my husband offered me when I was 40 years old. I dreamed about this watch when I was kid because the woman who took care of me during the holidays, had this watch…and I wanted to be like her because she was so elegant.

Where do you find inspiration?

In my souvenirs of childhood and in my dreams I had at that time…also in all the fairy tales I read.

How do you relax?

In my bath, walking in nature.

What designers do you love and are inspired by?

Bloomsbury group, Kiki Smith, Bonnard, folk art, my friend the illustrator ATAK.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life immensely?

Longer days… more time 

What is something you have thought of which really should exist but it doesn’t yet?

A flying carpet would be perfect for me. 

Out of all the things your child has now what will you save for the day they become parents themselves?

I kept all their toys for their own kids.. and even the toys of my childhood.

What does a family heirloom mean to you? Can you give an example of something your family holds dear to their heart?

I have no family heirloom at all. My parents have nothing from their parents. I've tried to rebuild a story of my family.. I’m quite jealous of all the people who have family heirlooms.

What is a piece of art that everyone should see because it can change your life?

It is always really personal, but I’m in love with some paintings by Bonnard.. but cannot say it changes my life, but did give me one of my biggest emotions.



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