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“We use the shelves as inspiration,” Jean Lee of Ladies and Gentlemen explained to us as we stared at her wall in awe. At a quick glance, a few things popped out: a mirror etched with “you’re worth it,” a portrait of Abraham Lincoln and framed butterfly specimen. Jean then pointed out a few things we had missed. “There’s this sweet chunk of copper and some rocks,” she said, picking each of them up.
With her mention of the copper, we thought of their sleek and simply designed lights, chimes and salt and pepper shakes, which each highlight a copper element. Like many of the items on their shelves, their creations blend classic design elements with a modern twist.
Before designing items of their own, Jean and Dylan had an ever-growing collection of things they found inspiring. When it grew to an overwhelming extent (unfortunately, just too much for them to store), they opened an Etsy shop.
“We then started upcycling and repurposing items,” Jean explained to us. For example, they’d collect a variety of vintage brass lamps, take them apart and stack the bases upon one another. Table lamps turned into floor lamps, which were just perfectly mismatched.
“We made those pieces for a local Seattle design show back in 2008, when we were all hungry to make and see some interesting design work in Seattle,” Jean told us. Until this past March, it had been just the two of them running the business—the designs, assembly, shipping and general day to day administrative work. They now have the help of their intern Kevin, who assists Dylan in the workshop.
“We have a lot of the things we made in our house because, as expected in producing something, you’re bound to have messed up versions! We end up keeping more of the ‘special’ pieces and use them around the house,” Jean said as Dylan pointed out their first piggy bank prototype on their shelves. They designed the first version by hand after taking a slip-casting class—it’s not the perfectly sleek chalkboard version they offer now in their online shop and in boutiques, so it’s found a home on one of the shelves.
All of their work truly blends their individual aesthetics. “Dylan’s is simple, refined and structural. I tend to have a softer and more playful aesthetic—I like to play with colors and materials and mix things up,” Jean explained.
“We joke that Dylan pretty much likes anything that’s a box or square, and I pretty much like anything that’s round or spherical,” Jean told us, “But even though our general aesthetics are quite different from each other, we work well in merging both of our styles into all of our products.”
They also joke that Jean’s always styling things—our early afternoon picnic with them was the perfect example. In a matter of minutes, Jean whipped together a delicious array of finger foods to be perfectly packed into a basket, served neatly upon trays.
And just as Dylan had said, it was a very photo-worthy (and delicious) spread.
Photos by Collin Hughes