Laura Narayansingh catches my eye for two reasons – the first, her architectural designs and the second, her Monday Wear designs. I’ve always said that I wanted to teach a studio class that combined different design fields. Laura does just that in her every day life. Without any further ado, here’s our virtual sit down with Trinidadian architecture, Monday wear, and now Every day wear designer – Laura.
You are an architect, what was the reason behind your career choice?
I’d always associated architecture with art. I’d been inclined to anything that had to do with a pen and paper for as long as I can remember. My parents both came from humble means and grew to become highly respected liberal professionals. So, my sister and I were always expected to do the same. To my father in particular, my attraction to art meant that I would have to become an architect.
I’d always answer the question “what would you like to be when you grow up” with “an architect”.
What kind of projects do you work on, and can you tell us about your favorite?
I’ve been lucky enough to have been working at Trinidad’s oldest architectural firm- acla:works since I graduated 3.5 years ago. We work on a wide range of projects from large commercial projects to simple residential.
I’ve always been quite interested in making the ordinary extraordinary and this has manifested itself throughout my life in the various renovation projects I’ve been involved in. I can see something’s potential or lack thereof. Port-of-Spain in particular is loaded with deteriorating properties that I’d love to take under my wing and transform. I’m a huge fan of the idea of building recycling and adaptive re-use. I think it is not only suitable in our market but also necessary. With some capital investment upfront, a building can become very profitable to an investor and beneficial to society if redesigned appropriately.
How do your architectural design skills translate to your Monday Wear designs?
I want to create an environment for myself that is full of design and possibilities. This means that designing / creativity should not be something that is turned off at the end on a 8 hour work day. Monday Wear evolved as a result of this I suppose. Having a plan, then devising its construction, materiality and seeing it’s administration through to the end are all architectural skills that can be applied to any facet of design.
What do your design processes for architecture and your Monday Wear line look like and how do they compare and differ?
They are quite similar, but the major difference is the fact that a building takes 3 years on average to grow from concept to life, Monday Wear can take as little as 3 days. I love that. Instant gratification.
Where do you gather the inspiration for your Monday Wear line?
My goal is always to make women feel phenomenal yet still comfortable and very much themselves. Monday Wear should simply be an accessory to help you be you best self.
What difficulties have you faced with designing and producing your Monday Wear brand and how have you managed to over come them?
I can say that there have been too many obstacles as my goal was never to be a big time Monday Wear Designer. It all sort of happened by chance, though I don’t really believe in coincidences. I suppose the largest obstacle we all face in Trinidad is production. However, even that is pretty manageable now. Once you’ve got your foot in the industry, everything becomes a lot easier. It’s the assimilation that takes some time. Carnival is a culture of its own.
What can we expect to see in the future of the Laura Narayansingh brand? Will we be seeing other forms of design?
I wish I knew. I just go with my instinct. I recently launched LN Anyway Wear. The idea of Monday Wear being transitional was always my goal but I suddenly felt an urge to refine Monday Wear into a bodysuit specially made for any day use.
It differs in the fact that its an invisible seam thong in the back and the bottom is only made of spandex so that If you were to wear a skirt or pants, you’d see no underwear line.
Do you think there is a Caribbean aesthetic and if yes, how would you describe it?
I suppose we all try to design with our environment in mind. For example in architecture, shading and cooling are major priorities as a result of our climate. However, the manifestation of this in terms of design may vary from architect to architect. Again, this applies to all aspects of design. In terms of fashion, you won’t see designers making trench coats of heavy knit. We all use similar materials that nod to our environment and culture, it’s HOW we use them that defines us.
What words of advice would you give to a design entrepreneur in the Caribbean?
BE BRAVE and trust your instinct.
If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?
Hmm, an orca. I’m obsessed with them. They’re so loving and family is a huge deal to them.
What would you recommend to a visitor are the must see, must do, and must eats of Trinidad and Tobago?
Must eat: street food, doubles, gyros, main road roti! YUM. I’m a huge foodie- I can talk bout food all day!
There are a lot incredible restaurants as well, like Freebird Restaurant!
And of course KFC . Its a delicacy here. To die for.
Must do: CARNIVAL. There’s nothing like being in Trinidad at carnival time. Its indescribable. It should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Must see: The North Coast. If your into majestic, breath taking scenery that is.
all images provided by LN