LuRu Home creates modern chic accessories using the 3,000 year old Chinese tradition of Nankeen indigo hand dyeing. Friends and founders Liza Serratore and Claire Russo have used their many global journeys to bring slices of worldly inspirations back home to Shanghai. Their signature handmade pillows and throws are a mash up of eastern and western sensibility. We recently caught up with this trendsetting duo and asked them about their latest endeavors and must-see undiscovered destinations.
How does travel inspire your collection?
We?re happily nomadic, so this question truly applies. We owe our travels in Asia, and our move there after college, the credit for inspiring us to start our company. Interestingly, though travel put us in Shanghai, the urge to nest put us in business. We?d traipsed across Asia, and, once rooted in Shanghai, set about transforming our apartments into homes. There?s something magical about trekking far and wide and returning to a warm, cozy space that you?ve built for yourself in what is literally a foreign land. It was this processes of seeking out textiles and sewing them into pieces for our own apartments that introduced us to the range of characters who would later become our business? partners.
LuRu Home brings patronage to Nankeen indigo hand dyeing. How do you merge old east with new west?
We create pieces that are special to textile enthusiasts both young and old, and trust that those who appreciate our mission will value these traditional prints the way we do. Drawing from a pool of ancient Nankeen themes and applying them to modern wares allows us to link old and new, east and west, through celebration of simplicity and elegance.
Give us an idea of the day in the life of LuRu Home.
We?ll take a crisp, clear October day in Shanghai. The summer rains have ended, and the leaves on the trees which line the French Concession are starting to crinkle and drop. Big gusts of wind course through the city as we ride our bikes to an early-morning female entrepreneurship group meeting with our club, The Fempire, at a local French bakery. Next, jazzed up from a morning cup of Joe, we?ll address to-do lists, make phone calls, and check emails. Mid-morning, we?ll drive a few hours outside of Shanghai to visit one of our dyeing workshops, and view a finished batch of cotton before enjoying a big, hearty family-style lunch with the workshop staff. Overflowing plates of stir-fried veggies, a mountain of steamed rice, and tiny porcelain cups of locally grown tea complete the meal. We may snooze in the van on the way back to Shanghai, so as to be perky and alert for late-night calls with the West Coast during Pacific Standard daytime.
Which city do you most identify LuRu Home with and why?
Shanghai. Nankeen dyeing originated around this area 3,000 years ago. Older residents, even in the downtown, still wear padded jackets and trousers made from Nankeen cottons, while panels of the cloth hang in doorways down little alleyways. A bursting metropolis where old meets new, Shanghai and its energy have imbued LuRu Home with this sense of intersecting eras.
Lantern Shop in Shanghai
Describe LuRu Home in three words.
Storied, Timeless, East-Meets-West. LuRu Home focuses on preserving a cherished art form while reimagining its durable cottons for contemporary use in homes worldwide.
Your collection of products keeps growing, what creative endeavors are on the horizon?
We?ve been in Shanghai full time for three years, and now will begin to split our time between the Pearl of the Orient and New York City. We expect to be inspired by all of the delights of New York, and connect more than ever with American buyers, designers, and fellow companies. Look out for fun, new collaborations with other spunky, young startups.
Who is your Muse? Describe the LuRu Home woman.
The LuRu Home woman makes clever, well-considered purchases, preferring uniquely classic pieces that will last her whole life. Each must speak to her of a certain trip, a specific point in time. Her work could bring her anywhere ?the Middle East, South America, Asia ? and she curates her accessories, linens, furniture, and general style accordingly. She can?t acquire things she doesn?t love, and she always has a plan for how goods will be used both now and in her future. However, sometimes a special opportunity comes up, and she?s off on her next adventure. She can?t bear to discard a good chandelier or set of porcelain teacups, and entrusts these breakables to dear friends and family when her travels take her to places that only two fifty-pound pieces of luggage can go.
Tell us about your favorite pieces (or one of them) and where you were inspired to create it.
We had just begun to settle down in Shanghai, and were beginning to make friends. Our Nankeen cloth tea towels made lovely hostess gifts, and were all the more special because of the difficulty of finding western-style kitchen linens in China. We began to receive orders from friends who wanted to share the tea towels with family at home for the holidays. They were the quintessential east-meets-west gift; traditional craft with a utilitarian application. And, their warm reception inspired us to start our company.
How would you describe your own style? Please name three staples of your wardrobe you could never live without.
Our personal styles highlight practicality, simplicity and versatility. When you?re on the road for two months, visiting Thai beaches and corporate LA offices in the same trip, it?s paramount that one fifty-pound piece of luggage contain a veritable smorgasbord of options for all occasions (and temperatures! airplanes always feel subzero). A thin cashmere scarf, a pair of beautifully tailored linen slacks, and jazzy flats will get a girl anywhere.
Your collection has a strong global vibe ? what are some of your favorite cities to visit and why?
While we?re not far from some of the most publicized gems of the Orient (think Bali, Palawan, and Tokyo), we?ve most cherished the unexpected thrills from our adventures to little known locales across China. Yangshuo, in China?s south, is know for it karst limestone topography, a rock climber?s paradise. Pedal your way through rice fields as you ogle. When your neck has had enough, find the nearest bamboo raft and take a leisurely float down the river. The advance purchase of a cold beer makes the journey even better.
Jing de Zhen, the millennia-old center of China?s porcelain industry, and its treasures never disappoint. Trawling around the outdoor markets for dinner-ware and visiting family glaze workshops in the hills by motorbike can?t be beat. Be sure to pack lightly, so as to have plenty of room for the goodies you?re bound to find. We went gaga for the handmade glaze brushes used to decorate porcelain before firing.
Suzhou, where we shot our second lookbook, is quaint and in our case, restorative. We once spent a blissful work retreat there with The Fempire, our female entrepreneurship group. Each day, we brainstormed business plans, ate mountains of local dumplings, slept soundly in a traditional hotel, and punctuated that cycle with long walks along the water town?s tiny thousand-year old canals. To add to its appeal, it?s just a hop away from Shanghai.
Top: Yangshuo, bottom left: Jing de Zhen, bottom right: Suzhou
What are some destinations on your bucket list?
We want to see the ?stans. Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan. After living three years at the Silk Road?s eastern terminus, it?s time to explore what happens a few thousand miles west.
How would you describe your travel style?
We wish we could travel lightly, but so often trips last for months, and we must pack for a variety of climates. Our computers enable us to work on the go, and thus our travel style is a bit of a mix. Part work, part play, part exploration -- travel always calls for flexibility and spontaneity. We commit to a chipper outlook no matter what the circumstance (cockroach, no problem) and always chit-chat with locals and other foreigners to learn more.
Which upcoming travel plans are you most excited about and why?
For the first Thanksgiving in four years, we?ll both travel home to celebrate with our families. Sometimes it isn?t the far-flung adventure that is the most thrilling, but the opportunity to connect again with old traditions.
Which three products from L-Atitude are you coveting most right now?
We?ve been drooling over Emi Jorge's Oval Black Tortuga Clutch for some time, we love its natural elegance and general wow-factor. The House of Lavande Tassel Pendant Necklace is great because you can dress it up, dress it down, and make a statement. We heart Hart Hagerty, our old Shanghai pal. Her one-of-a-kind Hart Army Green Mao Vest I would jazz up any outfit. Plus, Miao fabric makes us swoon.
Souk or department store?
Souk for one-of-a-kind accessories, department store for trusty basics.
DIY or Concierge Service?
Both. The Hotel Concierge knows all. Sidle up to the desk, have a chat over your map, soak up all the cues, and then off you go. A concierge service can provide half a tour for reduced cost; for example, hire the driver but forgo the fancy restaurants. This frees you up to follow good leads from locals.
Buy everything or buy nothing?
Buy what you can reasonably carry and afford. Always take business cards. There?s nothing that can?t be shipped.
Camping or a 5 Star Hotel?
Anything with running water works for us. How much time do you really spend in your room when exploring a new city?
Drive or be driven?
Be driven, it frees you up to snap a gazillion photos. And, in Asia, it is the safest means of transport. Have you seen the Shanghainese behind the wheel?!
Room service or street food?
Street food with a side of Cipro.
Lots of luggage or carry-on bag?
Carry-on with empty duffle bags stuffed inside. You never know what you might find!