Two young gallerists have decided to put the city of Lausanne on the art map by creating their own, Uber-cool design space.
Far from being just “another brick in the wall,” the quirkily named labriq gallery is the brainchild of Jenny Löffel and Vanessa Marschall Comte. The two women decided to make a difference in the usually male-dominated art arena. And they’re not the only ones. Across the globe, in cities like New York and Berlin, women in the art scene are motivated by a desire to develop and market their own circle of artists, as well as be a mentor to them.
The two friends joined forces to offer clients “a selection of chic, magnificent, photographic, graphic, lithographic, poetic, atypical, iconic, magical framed works and much more.” Each of their pieces is chosen with care and all of them are authentic, often numbered and signed. They are the result of assiduous research among specialized publishers or talented current artists.
To make the experience even more personalised, Jenny and Vanessa taught themselves the skills of framing as they choose frames to highlight the works and their chosen combinations are never identical. The same holds true of the photographs: they assemble and create American boxes, each made to measure and handcrafted specifically for each piece.
The result is a gorgeously eclectic mix of styles, colours, tastes and values, all reflecting the passion and dedication of the two. They then decided to throw into the blend, a selection of carefully curated furniture and decor items — because, as they explain, “The meeting between paintings and furniture seems obvious to us.
This unity is found in interior design and everyday life.”
Vanessa is a freelance photographer and Jenny a furniture and interior design consultant. The two Lausanne-based women are committed to offering an original and affordable selection of art to their clientele. With Covid-restrictions and the pandemic causing a dearth of jobs, it was the right time for the two to go into business together. Added to that, theirs is the first shop that has been greenlighted in a municipal project to take over premises awaiting redevelopment. Projects that a proven to be local and sustainable are given priority. So the timing for Jenny and Vanessa has worked to their advantage.
Happy Ali caught up with them in Lausanne in an exclusive interview.
What is the inspiration behind your pop up shop?
Jenny: In the interior design projects that I was involved with, I never found anything original and accessible with which to decorate the walls. Together with Vanessa, we had been looking for a project to develop for several years.
We wanted to find a new way to access art at home. And the concept of labriq imposed itself on us.
Vanessa: For me, inspiration was to enable the acquisition of art for our clients with ease, with a wide range of works of art at an accessible price, and without “fuss”.
Why did you choose to be based in Lausanne?
Jenny: We have always been from the Lausanne region and could not imagine settling elsewhere. Lausanne is a dynamic, cosmopolitan city full of promise.
Vanessa: Lausanne is our city. It vibrates with culture. It was the best place for the installation of our art shop.
What is your ideal design vision?
Jenny: Beauty, practicality and daily utility while respecting the environment.
Vanessa: it must be obvious, a perfect balance between aesthetics and functionality.
What makes you happiest?
Jenny: Tucking the children in bed and debriefing on the past day.
Vanessa: My family, my professional adventure, and the chance to be able to enjoy the magical place where I was born.
What does art mean to you?
Jenny: To me, art is a necessity.
Vanessa: And to me, art is a language.
Is there such a thing as “happy art”? If so, what is it?
Jenny: Art is a vector of various feelings. The works jostle us and make us feel so many emotions. Happiness is one of them and this perception is very personal.
Vanessa: Certainly, because art is a conveyor of emotion.
What advice do you give to customers who know nothing about art and want to start collecting?
Jenny: Make your choices with “favourites” because the pieces collected in this way never tire us.
Vanessa: Instinctively buy a piece you like at the price you think is right.
Who are your favourite artists/photographers?
Jenny: I have a lot to learn about photography … obviously the photos of my partner Vanessa! I really like Lee Miller, LaChapelle, Imsand and other classics. For other artists, there are so many that I like for different reasons that it’s very difficult to answer. What a complicated question: I really like Klee and Miro, as well as Basquiat, Picasso and Cocteau. I can’t seem to stop one. At the moment, I am fascinated by the designer Jaime Hayon. His universe is incredible and very different.
Vanessa: Tough question! I appreciate the work of so many artists! As many photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Jeff Wall and Dolores Marat as land art installations by Nancy Holt, videos by Fischli & Weiss, gigantic murals by Keith Haring, … and more