After months of releasing mostly male-centric editions, we’re taking the testosterone way down to focus on one of life’s most puzzling enigmas— Girls. Chapter 59’s recent release features some of our favorite female personalities, all of whom we believe embody the idea of ‘modern feminism’— in other words, women who do exactly what they want, how they want, and make no excuses for it.
But why stop at the book? We want to continue the celebration of women making an impact, so we’re introducing you a new segment: Femme of the Month, where we’ll be highlighting women who deserve the spotlight.
Lex Lee—badass furniture designer and live-and-die San Fernando Valley resident—is our obvious choice for August’s Femme of the Month. The girl is a classified factotum because at only age 25, she has already lived the life of a consulting candidate, an artist, and now a furniture designer. Luckily for us, Lex Lee decided to kiss that McKinsey lifestyle goodbye, and instead give the people what we really want: human quality furniture for pets, and top-notch designs for their owners. We caught up with the personality to discuss trends, boyfriends, and how Shabby Chic is a classic NO.
Tell us a bit about yourself: name, age, where you grew up, where you live, what you do.
I’m Lex Lee and I’m 25 years old. I was born in the San Fernando Valley and I currently live in the San Fernando Valley. Odds are, I will die in the San Fernando Valley.
I am a furniture designer with a shop in West Adams. I do all of my construction drawings by hand, the old fashioned way, and I oversee every aspect of production from the wood work all the way to the sewing of the cushions.
The main reason we’re featuring you for our Femme of the month is because of the great furniture work you do. Tell us a bit about how you got involved in that.
Well one, thank you! Two: I studied Economics and got my degree from UCLA. I was getting offers to be a consultant, but I was so uncomfortable in an office environment and honestly, I don’t like wearing a pencil skirt. I decided to put all of that business acumen aside and pursue interior design. I studied at FIDM and they have this pretty unique competition called “Chairing Styles” where 10 interior design students design and work with a manufacturer to build a chair. I won the competition (Woohoo).
I practically forced my manufacturer/partner in the competition to take me under his wing and here I am two years later, taking this interview on his dime. It’s a pretty perfect situation. I get paid to learn from his mastery of furniture and work on my own line.
What is your favorite part about creating the pieces?
With each new piece, I nerd-out at every step of the way. I will see the raw oak being cut and I will get excited. I will see the clamps holding the piece together while the glue dries, and my heart will race. I don’t see that ending any time soon. When I work with other clients on their pieces, I do like to help in picking out the fabrics. That interior designer in me has not died.
Although you mentioned it before, I also read on your blog that your first major was Economics, how did you find your passion for furniture design? Was there a defining moment?
You read my blog? That, right there, has made my day. Economics was surprisingly very interesting to me; it still is. People think it’s about the stock market and love to throw out “it’s the economy!” during dinner conversation, but really it’s about human behavior. Having that be, the basis of my education has really taught me how to think and how to approach every situation in my life. But I wanted more. I wanted the opportunity to show my creative side, but I can’t paint for shit. The jump to something creative was easy to do, but landing in furniture design was not intentional.
Were you always an artistic kid? Even before designing?
Oh yes. My school dioramas were phenomenal if I do say so myself. I was a master of WordArt and I would use ClipArt at any opportunity. I loved to give class presentations and go beyond the requirements. I’m now a self-proclaimed introvert, but I was definitely an attention-seeker as a child. Nowadays, I want the work I do to speak for itself. Until then, I will ramble on about it.
Tell us about fur/niture, your pet-related line of furniture.
That is so awesome that you’re asking about that! Fur/niture is my break from people furniture. I just finished up my first line of human furniture (that sounds like furniture made of humans) and I will tell you it was exhausting. Fur/niture was essentially playtime for me with the purpose of ridding the world of boring plaid dog-beds. I find it highly unfair that we have access to beautifully crafted and functional furniture, while our furry friends get a pillow that lays on the floor.
The drawings you saw were from my initial brain dump, but I would love to start production ASAP. And of course, they were inspired by my two little Yorkshire Terriers (Brothers: Max & Ted) and my boyfriend’s massive 90 lb Otter Hound named Reef. There is something in the collection for modern dogs of all sizes.
You mentioned that working at an internship at a boutique interior design firm made you realize that a lot of design that exists isn’t particularly appealing to you. Is it a specific aspect of it that you don’t like? What kind of designs do you hope to push forward? What are some of the design trends right now that you can’t stand?
I am a firm believer in designing—not decorating. You can’t fix an ugly chair by adding fringe or nail heads. You have to fix the foundation of the chair. A lot of what I did as an “interior designer” was pick out pillow fabrics or choose items out of a catalog—totally didn’t need to go to school for that.
The whole theme behind my first line was creating what I wanted to exist in the world and to me, that meant creating a line of comfortable modern pieces that were high quality. They could work in formal homes or beach houses. I love when furniture is versatile like that. Plus, these frames are so strong, they will outlive us all. A trend I cannot stand is Shabby Chic. Just don’t do it.
Who are some of the artists you look up to?
I love interior designers like Antonia Hutt or Joan Behnke. There’s an amazing artist in San Francisco named Heather Day who I would love to work with (textile line maybe?) I also love the work of Lindsey Adelman. I’m very much about girl power, clearly.
Describe your aesthetic in three words.
Minimal, not boring.
Finally, what does the next year look like for you?
That is such a scary and totally thrilling question that I was not prepared to think about right now. The new line is just weeks from launching via my website (www.lexlee.la). So hopefully that means a year of cranking new orders out like hotcakes. Do people still use that phrase?
At the suggestion of my YouTuber boyfriend, Hunter March, I recently started a YouTube channel that will give you an inside look at how a designer tries to maintain a balance between her personal and professional life. You will see everything from my design process.