Tour LRNCE Founder Laurence Leenaert's Bohemian Home In Marrakech
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, creative and founder of LRNCE, Laurence Leenaert, welcomes us into her home.
When it comes to the act of ‘making’, Laurence Leenaert of LRNCE literally can’t stop doing it. Her Marrakech-based lifestyle brand has garnered a devoted, cult-like following across the globe, revered for its truly unique, one-of-a-kind artwork, textiles, and accessories.
For Leenaert, repurposing materials, limiting production, and maintaining a spontaneous creative process are central to LRNCE’s success. Working closely with local artisans in Marrakech, Leenaert designs everything from sandals to ceramics, embroidering and hand-painting each piece with her signature style.
LRNCE’s studio in Marrakech is as inspiring a creative space as it gets— with authentic handcrafted textiles decorating walls and floors as rows of freshly painted vases and vessels dry in the North African sun.
In her home, pops of cobalt blue and rose pink enrich an earthy palette of rich terracotta and desert sand, with bespoke oak furniture and curved cane shelving adding character to a truly authentic abode. With a passion for patterns and eccentric décor, Laurence’s creative space is a true reflection of her creative self.
Hi Laurence! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
Textiles (carpets, blankets, pillows, clothing), sandals, ceramics, paintings…a bit of everything, actually!
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
It’s a diary, it’s part of your life, who you are, and you show it by making and creating. It’s everything, from the choice of materials, colours, shapes, the way you show your work, and the way you work.
When did you know you wanted to be a designer? And what inspired you to go down this path with your career?
I had this amazing teacher in high school who told me I should go to study art, even though my plan was actually going to school for sport. I had a look and I thought, ‘Why not?!’ I ended up studying Fashion at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent and started my brand in 2013.
What inspired you to make the move from Belgium to Marrakech?
I decided to move to Marrakech after living for over a month in the desert of Morocco with my sewing machine (M’hamid El Ghislaine) and Bobo, who became a very good friend and let me stay at their place. I just followed my intuition because I felt so good and so far away from the ‘real world’ and felt like everything was possible. It made me want to just go for it.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
There is not really a ‘start’, I don’t really work with collections, so I just go with the flow. My work is very spontaneous and in the moment, and I want to keep it that way, without any pressure. I’m always drawing, always taking photos, and thinking about new objects and textiles.
Where do you find the inspiration for your collections?
The artisans I work with—they are so inspiring and so talented. I’m also inspired by travelling, colours, nature, and my friends.
Do you have a dream project you’d like to work on one day?
I’m dreaming about opening a hotel and designing everything, from the floor to the chairs to the wall pieces—everything!
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
Everything is handmade, so it’s a very small production and we had to make a choice to keep it small instead of ramping up production to sell to a lot of shops. We’ve kept working with the same artisans we’ve been working with since the beginning, keeping it niche with a focus on unique pieces.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
Things take time, so just be patient. It’s very important to take your time and not do things in a rush.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
Meeting Ayoub (my husband) was the best thing that happened to me, without him I would never be able to do what I’m doing now. Since the moment we met in Paris, he has always been so supportive and has made my dream a reality. Ayoub joined the company in 2017 after I asked him to move back to Marrakech, where he was born, and take over the part I don’t really like so much, the business part. Before then, I was doing everything by myself, and although the struggle was part of the journey, it’s much easier with his help.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/ someone looking to start their own business/ go out on their own?
Stay true to yourself and dare to show your work and personality. Don’t question yourself or your work too much, just go for it. Don’t overthink—at least for me, that’s a really bad thing to do!
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
Just over two years.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
It’s in the center of Gueliz, with a garden and it’s a house with a lot of charm. It’s also very basic, and we didn’t need anything more so it was perfect! I love the high ceilings, and the window in the bedroom that looks out onto the garden.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
We are renting the house from Moroccan owners so we haven’t made any renovations—but the house is very old, with white walls and beautiful original floor tiles, so it’s beautiful as it is.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I love colour, and I love to feel instant happiness when I arrive home and am surrounded by bold, colourful objects and living plants.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
I love this painting I got from my friend Lieven from Belgium called ‘Best Dressed Girl’, and I really like all the ceramics I’ve painted over the last five years, and also the long table with painted tiles on the terrace.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
For the house, not really, but we have a new project coming and we will have a Riad very soon—I have so many things on my wish list for that.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
The living room with the view of the olive trees outside. I love to read a book and have my coffee in the afternoon, laying on the couch and listening to the birds in the trees. I guess I’m a romantic!
Tell us about your bedroom.
We have a large wall piece with a face on it, one of the first ones I made. I love the colour of the beautiful terracotta bed sheets together with the colour of the pastel blue wall piece. We made our wooden bedframe and kept it very simple. Our artisan who works with metal made us our pastel green bedside tables with our ceramic lamps on top. I love sleeping with the windows open and waking up to the sound of the birds.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
White walls with plenty of colourful objects and textiles! And I love wood, it makes the room feel really warm and welcoming to me.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
In two weeks, I have my first exhibition in London and will be showing my paintings which is very exciting! In June I’m going to Oaxaca for a month to learn the Mexican handcraft, I’m looking forward to that too. And then, hopefully we will open the Riad, but things take time in Morocco!
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