For Lauren Sands, founder of LES Collection, collecting is about forging connections with artists and the objects they’ve created. Born and raised in Rochester, New York, she first began collecting art at 11 years old. Her father, also an art collector, and her mother, a photographer, used to take her to visit ARTISANWorks, a 40,000-square-foot factory that had been converted into a nonprofit art space. “To call it a gallery is an understatement,” she shared. “It is a large park of connected buildings with gallery and office space packed with art. It is 501(c)3, and the founder is a hoarder of art and objects in the best way. There is so much art there that I had to hone my eye early on, learning about my taste.” She credits owner Louis Perticone and ARTISANWorks for her strong knowledge of art and personal preferences. “You can find everything there, from Wendell Castle furniture to large-scale Albert Paley sculptures, to Picasso, to local artists – they even have a dentist’s office from the 1950s and a full-sized fire truck.”
As an adult, Lauren continued to collect, first photographs, and later, ceramics, paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects. Her passion for for it all was influenced by her grandmother, Mickey, herself an avid collector. “She bought pieces she loved for many years. She wasn’t a transactional collector,” she said. Lauren also holds deep affection for the pieces she collects, but more so for the relationships forged with the artists who make them.
“My passion grew over a long time; it came naturally and with force. I always had confidence I would stumble upon the right path, and I would just know when I was there,” she said. Lauren never considered collecting as a career until she had children. “Once I had children, I felt a need to build something with thought and intention that provides community, connection, and value in this world. Throughout everything, one thing remained consistent: my love for art and collecting.”
“I didn’t quite “stumble” upon founding LES Collection, it was done with hard work and intention, but I knew I was on the right path because, despite the stress, uncertainty, and challenges that come with a start-up endeavor, I never think about stopping. It just feels right,” Lauren disclosed.
It first began with an Instagram account, which pleasantly surprised Lauren with how strongly her followers responded to her aesthetic, and to the artists and designers that she promoted. “LES Collection grew organically from my passion and desire to strengthen my relationship with the artists that I had collected for years and forge new relationships with artists I discovered along the way,” she says. “It’s been really hard, but I’ve never wanted to do anything else.” But more so, “I could not have built LES Collection without my team. I knew from early on that investing in people was something that I needed to do.”
Today, the company represents 40 artists located across the world. Along with regularly launching new, exclusive editions by these artists, the company also publishes a bi-yearly volume of art writing. Recently, LES Collection began offering an expanding collection of branded objects, including candles and apparel.
Collecting for the love of it, and hopefully, transferring that love to her clients is the end goal. “The objects we collect finish our homes,” she says. “They convey depth of character and emotion and uniqueness that can transform the way we feel.”
This week, Lauren Sands joins us for Friday Five!
1. Morning Walks
This is an essential part of my day. Getting outside, even if just for 10 minutes, has made such a difference to my energy and sleep at night. I do this within an hour of waking up (weather permitting). I often walk my daughter to school, which is a special time for us.
2. A Good Blazer
My life right now is pretty crazy; between running LES and two young kids, I don’t have time to think about what to wear. So a uniform is essential. For fall, winter, and spring, this uniform centers around a good blazer. My favorites are from Blazé Milano. They are an investment but so worth it. I wear mine over and over again.
3. Candlestick Holders
In the last five years, I have developed an obsession and collect all different kinds. I love to entertain, so I use them all the time. We carry some of my favorites at LES.
4. Museum Wax + Museum Gel
I wanted to maintain the art and decor in my home when I had kids. Making the house “kid-friendly” was something I hoped to avoid. Museum Wax and Museum Gel have allowed me to display my favorite ceramics and sculptures without worry. I use the wax for the candlestick holders, so the candles are secure, and gel for ceramics to ensure that a crazy toddler can not knock anything over.
5. Art + Design Books
I have no formal art and design training, so I am very much self-taught. Therefore, I rely on an extensive collection of art and design books for visual inspiration and reference. We carry both vintage and new art and design books at LES.