Luez Design and Play truly offers the cutest kids’ toys and decorations. Laura Rodriguez is the designer behind this collection of aesthetically pleasing children’s goods. We can’t wait to see little tots going nuts at our New York Fair this weekend!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
The name “Luez” is a combination my father’s first name and last name. He always told me to do something I enjoyed and was passionate about. He passed away a year after I graduated college, so the name is in memory of him. Also I truly believe that design should be fun, playful and charming, so that is where “Design & Play” comes from.
Have you always been passionate about design?
I was always into creative activities as a kid. However it wasn’t until I started applying to college that I became interested in design as a career choice. I initially was planning on studying architecture. However I was really drawn to the tactical nature and the variety that Product Design presented.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
I studied Product Design at Parsons School of Design and for my thesis project I designed an art therapy toy that was intended to help children express their feelings in a visual way. That project really solidified my interest in pursuing a career focused on designing for children and the young at heart.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
While my products are intended for children, I am always thinking about how an adult would react to my designs. I believe that design should be attractive to both the child and adult, which I do by incorporating a very modern and graphic aesthetic. I feel that my designs are more in line with European children’s design, so it is nice to provide that type of aesthetic and option to the US market.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
When I started my business, I knew I wanted to use my finances resourcefully. So I work from my apartment, so space is something I have sacrificed. At first it was ok. But now as my product line has grown, the storage situation is starting to take over every inch of my apartment. But I don’t regret it, because that money I saved allowed me to grow my product line so much faster.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
I started my business just over 2 years ago, so every new milestone is very exciting for me. But I would have to say the first time someone (who was not family or a friend) purchased one of my products and the first time a store wanted to hold my products are my proudest moments. Those milestones really validated to me that what I am designing and doing is something relevant and exciting for people.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
I have lived in NYC for 8 years now and I love visiting all the museums for inspiration. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an amazing section, called The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art, in their American Wing that I could spend hours exploring.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
I won’t say it was a huge leap for me. I think all through my studies and always in the back of my mind I felt I would start my own business. Also lots of women in my family run their own businesses, which was also influential.
What are some inspirations for your work?
I am really inspired by the Bauhaus and mid-century modern designers, such as Charles and Ray Eames Jean Prouve, and Hans Wegner. I am also inspired by toy designers including Ladislav Sutnar and Naef. Alexander Calder is very inspirational as well.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
I am still learning new things everyday. But I would say that while designing should be your main priority and probably the most fun part of running a creative business, I really feel that it is important to understand all the other aspects of running a small business. Having at least a general understanding of these categories gives you a better perspective of how your business is running as a whole.