Aleesha Callahan from Habitus Living speaks with our Founder, Anna Lofts, about balancing life and work, all with an eye to design.
Anna Lofts is a Norwegian design lover who established L&M Home in Melbourne 21 years ago. She shares her personal insights into maintaining work/life balance, travel and what makes a house a home.
Aleesha Callahan: Tell us about yourself, your background and what led you to where you are now
Anna Lofts: I moved to Australia from Oslo over 30 years ago. I started a fashion company with a business partner, we imported clothing, mostly from France and Italy. The business partnership lasted nearly 20 years, through motherhood and longer than our marriages. In the end, I was ready for new challenges and started L&M Home in 2001 (previously Linen & Moore).
From my previous business, I was familiar with manufacturing and importing. I worked from home and used my garage as a warehouse until the business had grown enough to justify commercial space. There was very little pure cotton bed linen available, everything was poly/cotton, so I started with that. Our collections now span home accessories, bed linen, table and bath, with a focus on natural materials rich in texture and character: linen that becomes softer with time and use, soft hand-loomed cotton and handmade stoneware.
This February marks a milestone for us – our 21st birthday. And what a journey it’s been! We now have a beautiful showroom in Fitzroy, Melbourne with 14 employees, as well as agent representatives across Australia.
“Art and culture can enable us to design useful and meaningful things, shaping the way we look at and understand the world around us.”
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
As an owner, working on your business is all-encompassing, whether working from the office, at home or overseas. It’s important to set boundaries about when you are at work and when you are at home. I still fill in my diary every day with meeting times, time to exercise and spend time with friends and family.
What does home mean to you?
I love a home to feel warm, inviting, personal and lived in. It’s the place we escape to at the end of a hectic day, so should feel calm, organised, and peaceful. I love being at home either quietly switching off or filling it up with friends and family.
How does your home reflect your passions, interests, and creativity?
There are many stories behind the pieces I have sourced for my home – from Norwegian family heirlooms to contemporary furnishings, and beloved pieces that I have collected from around the world while travelling for work.
My passion for colour is stronger than ever, but I increasingly find inspiration in organic shades which I think feel more natural, and calm, and importantly, bring the outdoor elements into the space. Materials are another big factor – I love to incorporate natural wood, marble, leather, and linens in my home.
What’s your favourite room/object/thing in your house?
The openness of the kitchen, living and dining area and its connection to the outdoors. I love the generous scale and light of this space, which opens to a small courtyard. And I love the fishpond at the entrance that is visible from the dining zone. Although the house is largely open plan it has a warmth about it thanks to its atmospheric lighting, and layers of textures.
A particular favourite is a painting of a herd of elephants on the move by Australian artist Donald Green. The work comprises multiple panels that sit together to create a whole. I have moved homes with that piece of art so many times. If I move somewhere, the elephants must always fit in!
Why do you believe culture, art and design are important?
All three have a huge influence on how we express our values and foster new ideas and relationships. Art and culture can enable us to design useful and meaningful things, shaping the way we look at and understand the world around us.
Tell us about your work – what is the driving philosophy behind what you do?
We strive to offer carefully curated homewares that enhance the everyday experience with style, comfort and quality front of mind. Luxury and craft are being redefined and we’re passionate about the narrative around the maker, traditional techniques, and the provenance of materials. Buying less and buying better, supporting small business, and rebuilding a sense of community. The focus on quality, on versatility, the desire for products to last a lifetime – those are all more than just words at L&M Home. They’re something I’m challenged on and checked and double-checked on all the way through the design process.
We take pride in using 100 per cent natural fabrics – such as Portuguese cotton, Australian wool and the finest French linen – which support small family farmers and sustainable producers. Our suppliers are our partners, and often our friends. Many of them have been with L&M Home since the beginning, allowing us to build a trusted network of craftspeople, factories, and small family workshops. We hand-select our suppliers based on their specialist skill and craft and are determined to ensure that great care and attention have been taken to better the livelihoods of the workers involved.
How does design play a role in your life?
As part of my job, I get to travel all over the world to visit our manufacturers and special artisan communities. It’s a wonderfully inspiring and educational experience and essential to keeping abreast of what’s happening in the exciting world of design. Creating our seasonal collections and the designs that go into them is a huge team effort at L&M Home.
Everyone feeds their own knowledge, experience, and perspective into the mix to create something that’s better because it was done collaboratively. Our weekly team meetings are a big part of what I get up to! The new AW23 collection is a sensory experience, which has been created slowly and thoughtfully, taking cues from nature and comforting, enriching shades of the earth.