We visited NY-based graphic designer and illustrator, Lotta Nieminen, in her airy studio and talked all things design, inspiration, and personal style. She credits her mother for her love of all things colorful, and tells us the secrets to finding a balanced life.
How did you get into design?
I wanted to get into the movie department to study film-making, but I quickly realized my main interest was in designing the beginning and end credits. I was kindly pointed towards the graphic design department instead.
Illustration came along a bit later, while I went on exchange to the Rhode Island School of Design. The semester at RISD seemed like a great opportunity to experiment more within it, eventually making it an equal professional identity alongside graphic design.
What inspires you?
Beautiful or interesting color pairings are one of my biggest influences and can be the whole starting point to a piece.
Can you tell us more about your mom being an artist, how that has inspired or motivated you?
Color has always been important in my work—and that’s definitely something I feel like I’ve taken from my mom. When we were little, she would stop me and my sisters to look if she’d spot a “gorgeous shade of green.” I would assume that’s where the fondness comes from! We loved to draw, and my mom was always very adamant on us working with quality tools: she’d sharpen our crayons, make sure the markers weren’t dry, and gave us piles of nice empty sheets to draw on. You’d think kids don’t care what types of tools they use, but I think it had a huge effect! But I think she was still mostly encouraging us to draw because it would be the only thing that would keep my sister and I quiet for hours on end: we were quite the little rascals otherwise!
Tell us about running your own design studio.
I love that it gives me the flexibility of wearing multiple hats and alternating between disciplines—it keeps things interesting and the work ever evolving. I like when I get to execute assignments through the medium I think will generate the best result, rather than be confined to a set role.
Tell us about your design process.
Working with illustrations is a nice change if I get designer’s block with graphic design—and vice versa. I try to avoid working as both the designer and illustrator on the same project to retain enough objectivity to the end result.
What was it like collaborating with Liberty?
The Liberty collaboration was a dream come true, and actually started from a misunderstanding! I was in London to promote my fist children’s book, and initially approached Liberty about a potential collaboration around the book launch. I went to a meeting, where I was proposed a fabric collaboration instead. I’ve been a fan of Liberty fabrics for as long as I can remember, so you can imagine what a huge honor it was!
Can you tell us about decorating your stunning apartment?
Our apartment is more or less a joint effort between my husband and me, and I like that it looks like the both of us.
We built the place out pretty slowly, a few things at a time. Building everything around a long dining table seemed appropriate. I think the perfect apartment is one where you can gather all your friends for a dinner that goes late.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is pretty minimal, but fun. I like muted colors and layers. I prefer versatile pieces that look completely different depending on what you wear it with.
I’ve been wearing Loeffler Randall for many years now! They completely echo my sentiment of versatile, quality fashion: they’re fun but timeless, and can spin a whole outfit.