Building a brand from scratch requires far more than designing great clothes, it’s about creating the foundation of the House from the ground up—a narrative that the collections can live within. When launching Sies Marjan last year, Sander Lak knew he had to find the perfect space to establish the label’s DNA and lucked out with the Chelsea space they now occupy, where everything from the design to sampling to business and sales happens under one roof. For Lak, it was vital that the atelier was fully integrated and accessible, and that the entire space felt like an extension of the clothing.
“We are creating the world of Sies Marjan, and the direct environment is the most important way of doing this outside the collection,” explains Lak. “It was imperative for us to put a lot of time into setting up this space, because the experience of being here is so valuable for the press and buyers who come in. Everything breathes the language of Sies Marjan. It’s so great to get to build it from scratch and offer people something that they haven’t seen or known before.”
Above, Lak gives a first hand look at in-house creative process in a short film, and below he shares his thoughtful approach to his environment.
The Window: Your workspace is amazing and truly doesn’t feel like a standard office or showroom.
Sander Lak: I believe in the idea of transparency in layout. I don’t like it to have all these corridors that lead people to isolated areas with an atelier on a different floor. It’s important that the atelier sees what’s happening with the rest of the company, and that the rest of the company sees what’s happening at the atelier. Of course, we have little rooms for private meetings, but most of the office is an open space. It’s important for me that when people come in they really feel that this is a place where clothes are being created, considered, and produced. It’s not about presenting a sterile place where the finished clothes are hanging perfectly on a rail.
What else did you consider when setting up the space?
I wanted the studio to look as much like my own home as possible—for one thing, I’m more here than I am at home! I think it should be comfortable, because we’re all here a lot. When you come into the space, you’re stepping into a house—a Fashion House, in this case. It’s about making it personal and having a point of view. I’m not trying to create a white box that anything can work within—that would mean there was no identity, and that’s the opposite of what Sies Marjan is and who I am.
Do you consider the environment an extension of the label?
I think it’s important for any brand, especially a new one, to really communicate your language in every way that you can. The loudest language is the clothes, and then there’s everything else surrounding the collection. I think the experience of when you come to our studio that you feel that the identity that you think you see in the clothes is also represented by what you see in the space—from what I’m wearing to the cups that we use to serve water.
How would you describe the aesthetic of the space and is it consistent with your overall aesthetic?
I think it’s in line with my aesthetic for everything that I surround myself with. It’s not something that has a specific guideline or needs to come from a certain price range. It’s about taking things from high culture and low culture. I love things that have life behind them, but then again I can be attracted to something cold and sterile too—often these things take new life when placed next to something else. It’s never about the individual pieces; it’s about the bigger picture. If I choose something Danish Modern, I’ll make sure it goes next to or on top of something from a totally different genre. I don’t want it to start looking like a furniture showroom in here. I think it’s important that when you go to someone’s home, things aren’t so curated. I love the look of a random piece from your grandmother’s apartment that may be ugly, but you love it. It’s important to make things reflect your personality and be chosen for a reason, even if you don’t know what that reason is.
You have great furniture. Where do you source it?
I do a lot of 1st Dibs, I even find things on the street—although, apparently in New York you’re not supposed to do that! It’s a lot of different places. I love finding things at the markets. I enjoy the process of going through a lot of stuff and discovering that one piece. That’s how I decorated my apartment too. It feels very organic and never comes from one place.
Is your home decorated in a similar way as this space?
There’s a lot more personal stuff in my home, of course. The identity is certainly the same though. In my home, I have a mix of pieces from when I was living in Africa, Scotland, France, and so on—something from every place I’ve lived in. They really have a personal touch because they’ve been in my environment for many years.
What’s one of your favorite corners of the showroom?
I love the fluffy couch, and everyone that comes gravitates toward it. It’s an attention-whore for sure! It was upholstered in a different fur when I got it. I knew I loved the shape, but I reupholstered it with new fur that was better! I love how the white color gives the illusion of this big cloud in the corner. We had pillows made in pink fur with cashmere backings created from leftover fabric. It’s fun to rework things and play with the textiles we use in the collections. I like that do-it-yourself twist.