Embracing Creative Challenges and Community Needs with an Artist's Flair
In 2008, exasperated by her inability to find someone to properly frame the vintage posters she was importing, Katrien Van Der Schueren decided to open her own shop: “They didn’t know what they were doing or I didn’t like the style,” she recalls, “And you have so much that needs to happen that I wanted to be able to control the finished product.” Soon, colleagues were flocking to Voila Frame Shop. But it’s the adjoining Voila Creative Studio that has made the Belgian-born, LA-based artist a stand-out in the Los Angeles design community. Under her direction, the multi-disciplinary art and design-focused workshop executes astounding event backdrops and stage sets, bespoke furniture, flamboyant lighting and avant-garde artwork that have found their way into residential, hospitality and commercial projects around the world.
“We were also importing vintage furniture and objects — airplane parts, old glasses — and I had a container of glove molds,” says Van Der Schueren recounting the Studio’s origins, “I was overflowing with glove molds. What was I going to do with them?” Her inventive mind conjured up a chandelier of hanging hands. That piece, which showcased her vivid imagination, proved to be the springboard that catapulted her into a new, exciting direction. (Creativity — and the ability to make lemonade from lemons — runs in the family; when looters recently smashed the Studio’s front windows, Van Der Schueren’s teenaged daughter grabbed the opportunity to transform the plywood boards into a mural, encouraging protesters to paint them with positive messages supporting The Black Lives Matter movement.)
The response to Voila Creative Studio’s phenomenal fabrication abilities was so enthusiastic that Van Der Schueren needed a larger space to accommodate requests. Three years ago, she took over an 8,000 square foot warehouse on LaBrea, across the street from Voila Frame Shop’s original location. The new workshop vibrates with excitement and possibility. Like Aladdin’s proverbial genie, Van Der Schueren is able to make her clients most outlandish and fanciful dreams come true, from an order for hundreds of reproduction chairs for a five-star hotel in Switzerland to a custom large-scale art installation for a private residence. For The Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas, her team recently installed a bas-relief concrete sculpture on an undulating forty-foot wall. “My role is mostly material exploration,” she explains, “You have to become inventive to achieve your client’s vision within the budget they’ve given you.”
Interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard is a frequent collaborator; the studio has created pieces in service of his work on Hollywood’s The Prospect Hotel, Santa Barbara’s The Hotel Californian and Cabo San Lucas’ Maravilla, among others. For The Cayton Children’s Museum in Santa Monica, they created a giant wishing wall. ALO Yoga Studios around the country rely on the studio for their upholstered pieces. Carolina Herrera’s flagship store in New York sings with the work of Voila Creative Studio, who created all of the shop’s metalwork, wood and upholstered pieces. “For some clients we do everything, for others we might just create a specific piece,” she says.
Prior to the pandemic, Van Der Schueren frequently rented out the cavernous space for events (U2 and Camilla Cabello both held album release parties here). Since the shutdown, she’s invited Neptune Glassworks, whose downtown studio was plundered, to make their home here. The vibrant glassblowing atelier is a fiery complement to Voila Creative Studios talented team, where artisans work in metal and wood, plaster and fabric, gold leaf and paint.
“I’m very hands on” Van Der Schueren laughs, “I think I have two brains. Some days I’m just on the computer, running the business, and other days I’m in the studio, sculpting and painting.” Those two parts add up to success.