Meet (me) Nicole Lawrence.
Originally hailing from the western coastline of Victoria before making the move to the city in my late teens, I am fortunate enough to have spent so many of my formative years in the design-centric community of Melbourne (Naarm).
My first foray into design was studying gold and silversmithing in trade school in Melbourne. This was a 2-year intensive course and I was proud to receive one of the excellence in design awards at my Graduate show. While making jewellery was something that I really enjoyed, I had to stop due to a condition in my hands called Boutonnieres that made the repetitive action of making such small objects cause chronic pain. I inevitably had to rethink my trajectory.
It was clear to me that I wanted to continue making objects so I applied for and landed a production position at Christopher Boots, a Melbourne-based Industrial Design studio creating high-end architectural lighting.
Throughout my 6-year tenure at CB, I was able to progress through the production team - making the lights - to quality control, production training and eventually landing a position in the design team working on technical design development. This particular position allowed me to grow and learn within a design studio that was growing rapidly in the Australian and international markets. Christopher Boots and the team there nurtured my skills and passions and helped me gain expertise in my field and also discover what my real passions and skillsets were. I will be forever grateful to Christopher Boots for the opportunity to work there.
During my time at Christopher Boots, I also studied Industrial Design at RMIT, which took me to the Netherlands for a 6-month exchange in one of Europe’s best Industrial Design Universities - TU Delft. It was here I was lucky enough to study under a number of incredibly talented designers. Upon returning home, the start of the pandemic meant I was not able to complete my honours year in the capacity that I had hoped for so I decided to defer my studies and focus on my own designs and self-education.
2020 was the year Nicole Lawrence Studio came to be. Beginning with the ‘Smooth Shelf’, the design of this steel, curved shelving unit became my signature style and so began my evolving relationship with this medium and the processes involved.
A year into launching the eponymous label, I had participated in 4 shows for NGV’s Melbourne Design Week, with my works being included in many design publications "Best of MDW Wrap-Ups". This was an incredible opportunity and honour to have my work recognised.
2021 has seen some challenges due to the ever-changing pandemic landscape but also some incredible milestones to commemorate. I have been nominated for the Design Files ‘Emerging Designer Award’, which will be announced later this month. Whatever the outcome may be, I feel incredibly grateful for my work to be recognised by not only a publication that I admire but to be amongst a group of some of Australia’s most incredible emerging designers.
Alongside running my studio I have also had the honour of working a couple of days a week under Fleur Studd, the director of Market Lane Coffee. In this position, I have assisted and project managed the company becoming a BCORP and Carbon Neutral company. Working in such a business taught me a lot about how to run an ethical, supportive and sustainable business and I have taken so many important lessons into my own studio.
At the time of writing, at the ripe age of 28, I feel exceptionally fortunate to be doing what feels meaningful to me, especially in a time that has been so difficult for most. From being a one-woman show, grinding, welding, transporting and selling all the works to now being lucky enough to have a small team supporting me, it’s been special watching this business grow. I still remain in charge of all the design work, CAD modelling and collaborative ventures for NLS and the general day to day chaos of running a small, growing business. There’s not a moment of it that I don’t enjoy and don’t learn from. Every day is both challenging and rewarding.
To me, NLS stands to create furniture, objects and lighting that someone is proud to own and knows the story behind. I am so proud to have built a female-led, locally produced and sustainably mindful creative outlet, celebrating the skills of a handful of local makers who are integral to each piece leaving the studio.