Fromage La Rue
Anyone that has followed this blog for a while will know that I am a long time fan of Aussie company Fromage La Rue. Their work is a fresh incarnation of vintagey goodness, letter lights that recall those illuminated street signs of Vegas and ooze industrial glam.
Branching out from their initial ranges, this duo is now expanding their business in two exciting directions (and sizes!!) echoing the ying and yang balance of this husband and wife team.
Discover what’s new and a wee bit of history on the company in our interview with the lovely Sarah and Kane below.
All in all I think you’ll agree, Fromage La Rue is fast becoming as iconic as the signs they are inspired by.
Artist Name: Fromage la Rue (Kane Sullivan and Sarah Fisher, husband and wife team!)
Artist Location: Byron Bay
Type of Work – Medium: Wooden letter lights and signage.
What events lead to the creation of Fromage La Rue and how did you come up with your company name?
I’d just had our second child and Kane was running his 3D architectural illustration business Lucid Metal. He decided he wanted a space to start experimenting with different mediums outside of his usual computer work (which is photo realism, so precise, perfect etc). He started making little moulded resin lights, then moved onto plywood letters. One day we saw an old rusty metal sign in a motel in Portland, Oregan and we wondered about creating letters in wood with lights in them. We had both been long time fans of the Vegas Neon Museum (sometimes called the Vegas Boneyard) in Las Vegas where all the old signs are stored, it’s a visually stunning place. We both had looked around for that sort of aesthetic for our own home and there was nothing in Australia at that time (2009). We wanted the lights to look old, like they had a story and we wanted them to be imperfect rather than perfect.
Our name? Well we obviously have no idea how to speak French and it was just a little in-joke between ourselves, along the lines of “wouldn’t it be funny to call a business this…” We never dreamt the lights would take off, in fact we weren’t even looking for a business opportunity at the time. Kane had his own business and I was a stay at home mum doing the odd contract role. We bought the domain name one night and popped a photo of our first E light (red wine may have been involved!!) and then the rest is history…
Your first range was the hugely successful Vegas Boneyard lights, have you always been a lover of typography and signage?
We both come from design backgrounds, Kane is an illustrator, 3D artist and animator and I came from the digital side of advertising, starting as a web producer and ending up as production director for a large agency. Luckily I was used to working with creative people and their idiosyncrasies, and Kane is well… one of those people! In my experience creative people often express their emotions through their work, it’s a highly personal role and it’s also subjective.
Kane being an illustrator, has always had a thing for typography and me coming from the digital world has always focused on font and design so we both have similar interests there. We both love original work, fonts that have been created from scratch make us happy. Font design is incredibly intricate. It’s so common, it’s all around us and we’re all so used to it, but to convey a feeling and a message of its own purely on how the letter is formed, how little or large it’s displayed and in what sequence.
On our honeymoon 10 years ago we have photos of signage all through our albums so we must have been obsessed from way back then… we used to live in the inner west of Sydney and we’d often ponder how to (legally, oh ok sometimes even illegally!) grab old decaying signage on industrial buildings about to be ripped down…(note: we never did it, we just talked about it. Truly.)
Fromage La Rue created some special pieces for the AW2012 Romance Was Born fashion parade based on comic strips. How did this collaboration come about?
That’s a funny one actually; we’d been experimenting with the BLAM! signs we make in our then workshop in Alexandria, Sydney and a stylist who was working with Romance Was Born saw our off cuts, grabbed them and took them to fashion week. We were never aware of it till they hit the runways! Pretty funny really, we were never asked, nor paid for it but to be honest we LOVED the shots we found online of the props and popped them on our page crediting all the appropriate people. If we had been asked we would have said yes and wouldn’t have charged them anyway because we adore their brand, they’re extreme and we love that! The sign was returned to us after the show and it is now painted red and proudly displayed in one of our kids bedrooms!
You are about to release a new range of petite letters and shape lights, can you tell us a little about these pieces? Where do your ideas come from when creating a new design?
The petite lights have been a looooong time in the making (as anyone on the wait list will tell you!) To be honest it was a hard sell to get Kane to agree to do them in the first place. He LOVES over-sized stuff, he says all men do. I think women do as well, but it’s also about price point and where to place a large light the size of a 7-year-old! We wanted to offer a light that was a bit more affordable, and also more appropriate for inner city spaces. We used to live in Erskineville in a 3m wide house so we (ironically) at one point couldn’t fit our large lights into our own space.
We’ve also had the lights themselves custom-made for us (we can’t divulge the secrets) but suffice to say they will be the perfect nightlight for children, without too much glare, they’ll be energy-efficient, super cute and extremely safe. We also wanted to make them a scaled down version of our large lights so people who want the aesthetic in a smaller light can get it.
Our new designs, the cloud and the rocket, came from me! Kane let me loose for once and this is what I came up with. I still have two more shapes up my sleeve too. I loved the cloud because it is gender-neutral and could work in any child’s room, but it could also impart some calm in an office environment. The rocket was designed for my 4-year-old at first, complete with little realistic rivets and a red lit-up area at the base of the light. It’s mounted on the wall on an angle and looks incredible dimmed at night on a dark wall. The petite range will also be wall mountable and any shape (like the cloud) will also sit easily on a desk, bookcase or any flat surface.
Yes at this stage it will be confined to the Byron Bay region. We’ll rent out very large props (These are under wraps at the moment but think a tacky Vegas wedding, Kane is ecstatic, they will be massive!) The props will be super large hence the issue with transporting them interstate. Couples can also hire their initials, love hearts or buy them as long-term lasting memory of their wedding. Included in the price to hire the props will be pick up, delivery and any insurance. The price will be per event, not per day, so couples don’t need to worry if the light is at their venue overnight.
Where can readers see / buy your work?
We take on custom orders when we have time. We can work with a design you already have, or collaborate with customers. We’ve worked for custom jobs on weddings, many events all over Australia, with clients like Samantha Wills, Warner Bros, The Cool Edies and Hermes to name a few.
You can buy online on our website www.fromagelarue.com.au or through stockists Hard to Find and The Design Hunter in Clovelly. We’ll soon be stocking our petite range nationally and even over in New Zealand (Kane’s from NZ so it’s a must!)
Do you have any words of advice for aspiring artist / creators?
It’s a bit of a cliché, but just do it. If you have an idea, stop talking about it and take the first step, it’s incredible the energy you can give something by starting up a free website account or registering your domain name. I’ve seen so many people with great ideas not move on them and regret it.
In saying this, don’t directly copy someone elses idea either, I think it’s awesome to be inspired by a style or a theme, but try to avoid looking at something successful and wondering how you could do it cheaper. For me, I might sound like a bit of a hippie here, it’s just bad karma. We’ve always tried to ensure we don’t copy someone elses particular shaped light, even though we started the lights first. You’ll be so much more satisfied if you’re creating original work, dig a bit deeper and you’ll find it there, and that’s when something becomes successful, because people love seeing new ideas and innovation.