Kelly Lafosse, founder and director of Neo-California Design studied architecture and interior design in Paris and Los Angeles. "My inspiration comes from many sources but most are architectural," says Lafosse, who has traveled the world for more than twenty years just to see some of the greatest and most important architecture and design.
Lafosse will tell you that she admires the work of Eichler, Mies van der Rohe, Ray and Charles Eames, Gehry and Bauhaus, but she'll also remind you that she grew up in Southern California in the 80's in the midst of both a cultural and style revolution. "I'm a child of one of the biggest decades of change and diversity in style and it would be fair to say that this era of lava lamps, clean lines, organic design, molded plastics, Andy Warhol and Euro kistch had a strong influence on my work, too."
But her style also has hints of influences of the new wave movement in music and fashion including punk rock and Vivienne Westwood. "I'm a complete hybrid of influences that are completely "red, white and blue" and those that came from across the pond," says Lafosse, with a a laugh and a smile. And then you realize that she's not concerned about working in one style and has no qualms about throwing design rules out the window. "And that's what make the spaces I design fun," she adds.
After Lafosse finished a five bedroom home in the Hollywood Hills, replete with mid century modern furniture mixed with repurposed Italian pieces that the client wanted to salvage, a collection of French figuration libre art and vintage tiki, a photographer turned to her and said, "What did the client want here?" Lafosse responded, "They were looking for Neo-California." And that evening, she realized that she had been using disparate elements which somehow kept her designs unified and that she had coined a name for her style.
For Lafosse, Neo-California is laid back but also highly sophisticated. Her goal is to make the homes she designs for her clients to be more livable and more appealing for what she calls real people. "My goal is to blend furniture, art and accessories uniquely into a visually sophisticated and warm environment," she says. But at the same time, you can see in her homes her fearless and fun streak. Says one client, "They're full of whimsy and color that pops - - Kelly maintains clarity and simplicity in each living space."
Neo-California parallels modernism in that form follows function and Lafosse believes in the simplification of form and the subtraction of ornaments. "But if something has great form, I can always make it function," says the determined designer who gives her clients plenty of space in which to live and breathe. "I don't cover every wall and every space in a room with a piece of art or something fabulous," she says. "I'd rather highlight one great piece that I source that becomes the conversation piece and the focus of the room."
Lafosse has a love of repurposing existing objects or turning the "drabulous into fabulous," as she tells her clients. Sustainable, recycled, natural, plastic and faux materials are used as part of her commitment to the environment which she belives is critical to her concept of Neo-California design. "I don't want to be accused of adding to our landfills," says Lafosse.
"I love mid century modern, Frank Lloyd Wright, and deconstructive architecture but at the same time I like the option of being able to blend fun elements of Old Hollywood, tiki or even simple thrift treasures," says Lafosse.
"I want people to leave one of my houses feeling like they've left one of the most comfortable, fun and sometimes wild ones they've ever been in," she says. "And I want the house to be as much of a character as the owner," she adds.