The start of Lara Bohinc’s fashion career couldn’t have been more fabulous or star studded. While finishing up a master’s in jewellery design at the Royal College of Art, Lara made some intricately detailed metal headpieces for a friend’s graduate show, which caught the eye of Lucinda Chambers, then Vogue’s fashion director. «The magazine called and borrowed them for a shoot and I remember being really excited, but I didn’t think much would come of it,» says Lara.
«It turned out that the photographer was Mario Testino, who shot my jewellery on the supermodel Georgina Grenville. She was one of the Gucci girls and huge at the time. Things took off really quickly: before I knew it, I had a little jewellery workshop, was making seasonal collections and doing Fashion Week. I didn’t have a grand plan; it just happened.»
The Bohinc Studio look exemplified: a geometric Fortress Castle Vase sits atop the same table
After graduating, in 1997 Lara won the British Fashion Council’s New Generation Award and launched a whole raft of accessories – evening bags, scarves, sunglasses – all featuring her signature filigree patterns. Since then, she has been a consultant for luxury brands including Gucci and Cartier, and her pieces have been worn by everyone from former first lady Michelle Obama to first lady of fashion Kate Moss. To cap it all, Lara was appointed MBE in 2012 for services to the fashion industry. But instead of coasting on her success, she decided to try something new: branching out into interiors in a big way.
The Collision Console Table
Over the past few years, Slovenia-born Lara has collaborated with Christopher Farr on rugs, designed delicate home accessories for Swedish company Skultuna, and teamed up with luxury stone specialists Lapicida on a collection of statement furniture in marble and brass. It has all been so well received that she set up a separate studio focusing purely on interiors last year, putting the jewellery and fashion side of her business on hold.
«I was dying to do something different,» she says. «I didn’t want to be limited by the body and the constraints of wearability any more. Furniture and objects have more longevity, rather than being fashion-led and transient.»
The Solaris Kinetic Table
There certainly isn’t anything transient about the Solaris Kinetic Table, which Lara designed for Wallpaper* magazine’s Handmade exhibition during Milan Design Week three years ago. Produced by Lapicida, it is made up of four stacked slices of marble that rotate, allowing it to fan out from a totally closed circle to double its size. Made in limited batches with a price tag of £54,000, the Kinetic Table and Lara’s subsequent designs for Lapicida – equally spectacular – can be compared to fine jewellery (the coffee table is £8,000), whereas her acid-etched candleholders and desk accessories for Skultuna start at a more democratic £60.
She also recently launched Bohinc Studio lighting designs (from £2,000) and handblown Murano glass vases. Despite the wildly divergent scale and cost, all her pieces look precious and modern, although there are echoes of the art deco, Bauhaus and Memphis design movements.
Tooth Fairy Murano-glass vases by Bohinc Studio
«My objects are like jewellery for the home in a way, because I use jewel-like materials – metal, stone, glass – and techniques,» says Lara. «I’ve been exploring the idea of the ‘ancient modern’: pieces that look like they could be thousands of years old, from another civilisation, or equally could be from the future. The design becomes timeless.»
Both traditional craft techniques and hi-tech processes, such as 3D printing and acid photo-etching, underpin the glossy surface beauty of Lara’s work. She trained as an industrial designer at the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts before moving to London, and both her father and brother are engineers. «Design is design, be it on a large or small scale, and furniture design isn’t new to me,» she says. «My father often made furniture for our home.»
A period fireplace contrasts with the futuristic Collision Table Lights
Lara’s newly opened studio and showroom in a grand, tree-lined square in west London is the perfect expression of the total Bohinc Studio look; period features such as decorative cornicing contrast with a striking geometric floor made from offcuts of coloured marble. Lara is planning to branch out into interior design if the right project comes along, but for now is content to dream up yet more fantastical objects for the home.
«I have such a huge portfolio of designs I want to make, so that’s why I really wanted to open this place,» she says. ‘What’s so great about design, as opposed to fashion, is that you don’t have to think about sizing or seasons. Whatever your body shape or age, an object is still going to look good in your home. They are forever pieces.