You may not expect clocks made of concrete to feature intricate, lace-like designs, but that's the idea behind Para Clocks, the stylish pieces made by LeeLABStudio. Handcrafted at the founders' Brooklyn, NY, shop, the striking clocks offer a surprisingly delicate take on concrete and a unique perspective on design.
Lindsey Lee founded the design and fabrication studio with her husband, Brian, and his brother, John. After successfully raising funds through their Para Clocks Project Kickstarter campaign, the trio applied their backgrounds in architecture to the design of beautiful clocks that are now sold at a variety of retailers, including Anthropologie. We spoke with Lindsey about the family dynamic of their workspace, the creation process, Kickstarter, and more, so read on for our full interview with Lindsey Lee!
POPSUGAR: Tell me a little bit about the inspiration and how the seed of this started.
Lindsey Lee: We've kind of always had ideas about combining digital tools and handcrafted things to see what that would create. In the world of products and design in general, you get things that are heavy on one side or heavy on the other, and we wanted to see how to synthesize those things. We're constantly generating forms on the computer and then working with our hands.
PS: It must be such an interesting dynamic to work with your husband and his brother. What's it like?
LL: It's pretty awesome, to be honest. It's challenging because we're all type-A personalities, so we all have our own opinions about things, but we sit down and build the integration of all these parts, and I wouldn't have it any other way. When you work in any kind of small office, you become like family — you get comfortable, you start understanding other people's strengths and weaknesses, and you can build each other up based on that. It's a real opportunity, and I'm excited to see how our business grows and how [our dynamic] can help to make the business better.
PS: I feel like the inspiration for this comes from a mathematical background. Am I wrong?
LL: That's correct. All of us have backgrounds in architecture. I worked for a design company here in New York doing furniture installations and also building at the same time, so all of it was based on coding and math. Brian, my husband, has a background in craft and making things and constantly experiencing and furnishing material — working with wood a lot. And then John is the efficiency, energy-modeling guy, and he knows a lot about business.
PS: So what did you learn from the Kickstarter campaign?
LL: We learned a lot about what people liked and how interested people get when they're involved in the process of designing something, whether they're in the creative field or not. And we're continuing with that, too, so we still get proposals for clocks through our app. The design process is still functioning, and we're learning about the way people interpret our clocks, which is really cool.
PS: So how long does it take to make one Para Clock from start to finish?
LL: Probably two or three hours, but the concrete has to cure over days, so we have batches that are curing and then get grinded down.
PS: Tell me more about the process.
LL: What we've tried to do with our material research is to get the concrete to be superthin. After we accomplished that, it means that we're the only ones who can make it, essentially, in the way that it's being made now. We have a small shop in Brooklyn where we make everything and all the molds are being made by a machine, so it's not an arduous process of sculpting, but the casting is all done by hand.
PS: That's amazing. What sort of tips do you have for people who are interested in opening up their creative process or starting a small, design-focused business?
LL: Well, Kickstarter, it really works. We found a lot of people to support us from all over the world, and we still hear from those people about new ideas or how much they love the products, which is a really great way to start a business.
PS: Are there things you wish you'd known beforehand?
LL: I think one of the biggest challenges with handcrafting anything is that you're handcrafting it, so the time spent invested in the product is a lot more involved than getting it manufactured by someone who's at a computer before it's send off and made. That time invested, we didn't see it coming, but we love it. We love making the products.
Thanks for letting us peek into your world, Lindsey!
— Interview by Miranda Jones