Downtown L.A. | November 01, 2023
Meet Artists LGS Studio
Meet Noel Hennessy and Thomas Renaud, the two artists behind LGS Studio. From their Glassell Park studio, the duo creates furniture, lamps, and unique objects inspired by a merging of past, present, and future. Read on to discover more about the artists, their inspirations, and how thinking outside the box amplifies their creative vision.
Your ceramic vessels and planters are now featured at Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel. How did it all come about?
Thomas Renaud: We were introduced to Kelly Wearstler at a brunch a few years back at the Flamingo Estate in Highland Park, thanks to our mutual friend Richard Christiansen. Richard had been collecting some work from our Studded series, and Kelly was able to experience it there. From then on, we developed a dialogue, with our first collaborations on residential projects involving ceramic vessels and custom lighting. From there, we were commissioned to create work for DTLA Proper.
Planters are one of the objects you’ll find on display at the hotel—can you share more about these pieces?
Noel Hennessy: We were excited that Kelly chose work from our Studded series to be part of DTLA Proper. We both share a love for exotic plants (our spike-covered planters are meant to feel like a natural extension of the plant itself) and are happy to see our pieces paired with some of the world’s most beautiful plants.
Can you share more about your working process?
We spend a lot of time in the studio experimenting and creating a library of our textures, glaze techniques, and forms. Everything we do is by hand—created from coil building, slab construction, wheel throwing, and glass casting. Over the years we have built a framework that we start from, and our studio pieces naturally evolve as we keep adding to our world of vessels, lighting, and furniture.
For custom work we tend to start from referencing books of sketches and ideas that we’ve gathered over time. From here, we’ll start a dialogue with our client to see what resonates and discuss any customizations. Then begins the prototyping phase, which tends to steer the direction of the final piece. We spend a lot of time on the surfaces of our work—adding or removing and altering the clay as much as we can.
What are your mutual roles?
N.H.: We share a lot of responsibilities in the studio and over the years have established a lot of trust in each other. Throughout the process we work together to create a final piece sharing thoughts on form, color, and function while allowing each of our natural skill sets to shine through.
What scale of creation are you most interested in?
T.R.: Our scale has definitely changed dramatically over the last nine years. When we started the studio, we were making a lot of tabletop items like coffee cups and small vessels. Over time, the scope of projects and our work’s scale began to change.
N.H.: We’ve been fortunate to work with some incredibly talented and trusting interior designers that have commissioned projects from us and have allowed us to push the limits of our ideas. It’s those projects and that freedom that gives us the space to create some of our best work, from 18-foot mirrored installations to large-scale garden sculptures. We couldn’t be more excited for the chance to create site-specific work that invites long-term reflection.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
N.H.: We have been working on some large-scale commissions that involve a more architectural approach, like creating an 18 x 8 foot piece for a private client that’s intended to be a centerpiece in a new home. This work consists of hand-pressed stoneware elements that evoke an abstract desert landscape…acting almost like ceramic paintings or murals. We also recently finished a very intricate nine-piece chandelier from our Reptilian collection that took over three months to create.
T.R.: We’ve been developing a new body of work incorporating cast glass, which is a fairly new medium for us to use in the studio. In the past we’ve worked with other glass artisans, but casting glass in the studio has given us a great opportunity to start to infuse our textural language into this medium.
What are some of your biggest inspirations?
N.H.: My inspiration has always been rooted in nature and history. I grew up in the aftermath of the eruption of Mt. St.Helens in Washington, and the event has always kept me in awe of the power of the earth. Volcanic landscapes have always spoken to me and I grew up wandering the mountains and collecting rocks. Above all, I am ever fascinated by ancient cultures and the incredible art and history they have given us. My mother is Mexican and Native American and my dad is from Ireland. This combined heritage has always connected me to our ancient past and the history of my relatives and the richness of its artisans.
T.R.:I sometimes think about a future in which nature no longer has a place. This idea moves through my work as I think of creating something that would be a memory of what we’ve lost or what we’re going to lose. One of my greatest influences growing up was my grandmother, with some of my earliest memories spent in her studio at The Bakehouse in Miami in the early 80s. She was a prolific painter and always challenged herself by consistently learning new or more refined techniques.
Does the object always have to be functional?
T.R.: Not always. But functional work is quite important to how we lead our lives. Within our work we like the idea of function to be a bit of a discovery and a pleasant surprise; turning a lamp can be an experience in itself.
Where can we see your projects?
N.H.: In addition to DTLA Proper, we have work in the new Ulla Johnson boutique in West Hollywood, designed in collaboration with Kelly Wearstler. If you are in Frogtown, stop in Justine’s wine bar where you can see some of the beautiful lighting and dimensional tile work we did for the space. Or if you find yourself in Hawaii, we also did some really beautiful lighting for a couple hotels there as well.
T.R: We often fantasize about opening our own boutique hotel, which we see as a place where someone can be completely immersed in our world by creating a space where our full vision is expressed.