Jean is a co-founder of Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, a multifaceted design studio based in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood. She and her partner Dylan Davis started the studio in 2010. Their philosophy embraces the value of opposites through a mix of warm minimalism, playful austerity and simple sophistication.
RE: BATHING IN SOUND
I’ve been getting into meditation / sound baths, and sound energy. I know, it sounds a little bit new agey, but it’s like going to see a live concert except you get to lay down, relax and feel the music on an entirely different immersive level. It’s great.
A few years ago, Dylan and I went to our first sound bath and had a really visceral experience that resonated with me. The concept of sound baths is basically the use of sound as a form of therapy. The musician plays a variety of instruments like crystal bowls, ringing bowls and gongs as attendees silently lay still. A great sound bath is like seeing an amazing live concert where you can experience an almost euphoric state, where you're “feeling” the music — not just listening to it.
For those open to it, sound can physically move you, activate different senses and even heal.
Each instrument creates different sound waves that travel like water ripples through air and matter. Since every human being consists of 75% water, there’s an interplay between the vibrations and your body. Each frequency has a drastically different effect and depending on the type of sound, it can create different patterns — a phenomenon known as cymatics.
I’ve started listening to music that’s more soothing and calming in my daily life. I’ve also started researching these concepts from both a scientific and spiritual point of view — to better understand how sound (and lack of sound) can affect your mental well-being.
RE: WORDS TO LIVE BY
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” ― Lao Tzu. This is my personal mantra on how to approach every experience and in many ways informs our studio practice as well.
I believe that we’re all “travelers” with different journeys and experiences, whether it be physically traveling somewhere, or mentally traveling through different states of mind.
This quote is a good reminder to not focus on the end destination but to embrace the unknowns and the process through discovery and curiosity.
RE: VINTAGE FINNISH ART
In the fall of 2019, we traveled to Finland, where we found a set of original vintage artworks by a Finnish artist named Pekka Laiho at a flea market in Helsinki. I don’t think he’s very well known, but what caught my eye was his use of both bright and soft, subdued colors, the compositions, and the texture of the paint where you can see the movements of his brush strokes.
We got four of his paintings, which all share a theme of abstract landscapes of houses or rooflines — the paintings are not framed, just on canvas — and were only about $20 each. We couldn’t find out much about the artist, but in a world where everything can be researched, the mystery is kind of liberating — we can just love the work for what it is.
RE: SOMEONE SHE ADMIRES
There’s a NY-based artist named Allan Wexler who is a great mixture of architect / designer / artist / installation designer / educator. He’s a little bit of everything and both Dylan and I admire that about him. We first crossed paths with him when we were studying abroad in Rome, where he was a fellow at the American Academy. We became so enamored with his work — his approach really left an impression on us. About a decade later, after we moved to New York from Seattle, we ended up befriending Allan through some mutual friends and got to learn more about his work and processes.
Allan has been an artist since the ’60s and created so many conceptual works that re-examine the fine line between humans, architecture, nature and rituals. Back in the ’70s, Allan did a “chair a day” project exploring the iconography and meaning of the form — way before Martino Gamper did his “100 chairs in 100 days.” Allan also experimented with wooden architectural structures and spaces that are poetic and conceptual, speaking to how architecture can influence human behaviors and vice versa.
When I see works from known artists like Andrea Zittel and Tom Sachs, I see overlaps with works of Allan, except he was decades before them. In the late ’60s, Allan created a conceptual T-shirt that showed his personal info as a form of self-promotion, which in many ways was like an analog version of Facebook or LinkedIn.
Allan is so prolific, poetic, thought-provoking and humorous at the same time. I really admire his work and energy, and would love to see more of his work get seen and recognized.
RE: THE GOOD KIND OF PEER PRESSURE
Some friends asked us if we were interested in doing a group show — that was the beginning for us. I think about how we would never have happened if they didn’t prompt us. We were always thinking about it but didn’t know where to even begin. That show was our first bit of exposure after graduating — it was kind of a big deal for us.
From there, we ended up forming a design collective in Seattle. It was with a lot of other independent design studios in 2008. Independent design studios were growing around that time — I think partially due to the recession.
The momentum of that community really propelled us. Community is still very important for us today.
RE: HOW SHE USES COMPOSED
We JUST got our Composed Vanity last week and set it up in our new apartment! There’s a good spot in our bedroom that’s ideal for getting ready and for me to apply my daily and nightly self-care products. I personally like to keep a minimal amount of skincare products and makeup that focus more on maintaining a healthy natural look, which isn’t too high-maintenance. For the most part, I can fit all my products in the top two drawers and place the more frequently used products in the open box in the back for easier access.
We live in a one-bedroom apartment, so I’m also very much looking forward to using Composed as an alternative work station for when Dylan and I want to have some privacy or be on separate calls at the same time.