Le Whit is a multidisciplinary design studio helmed by Liza Curtiss and Corey Kingston. The name was forged of two halves - ‘Le’ is half of Lena, Corey’s middle name, and ‘Whit’ is half of Whitten, which is Liza’s middle name. This intertwining of identities reflects the designers desires to merge architecture and interiors in their projects, creating a holistic vision and user experience. Corey comes with a background in architecture, with projects such as aiding the current expansion of the MoMA. The firms interior design is led by Liza, whose focus is to tell unique stories in spaces ranging from retail to home scapes. Le Whit’s projects take them around the country and both partners coast hop, with Liza in Seattle and Corey residing in New York.
Liza invited us into her home on Capitol Hill, the perfect dwelling spot for a California native, with its stucco exterior and terra cotta tiled floors. We talked about her history in theater and how she balances Le Whit with pursuing a Masters in Psychology. While on the East Coast - Corey and our friend Charlie Schuck, collaborated in her cozy New York apartment. Rich colors, unique built-in’s and a creative touch to make a small space feel like a full home, they spent an afternoon documenting Corey’s at home rituals and current projects.
"I have always been fascinated by people - by their beliefs, their backgrounds, their homes, their lives. I have always pursued interests that helped me better understand others."
- Liza Curtiss
Creating Le Whit
COREY: "In essence it was the desire to more seamlessly merge our two skills; architecture and interiors. We're after a comprehensive environment that can only be achieved by merging the two disciplines. Rather than interiors being an after-thought, as happens often in architecture, or an existing space not being conducive to furniture, we wanted to plan for it from the beginning. This way we can optimize the way one exists in architecture, and be really critical about their experience."
LIZA: "I love spaces that tell a story and reflect the lives of the people living in them. What makes a space truly alluring is how form and story collide. If you just have a bunch of perfect objects in a room, it will feel cold. If you have chaos and clutter, the story will get lost. Interior design is intentional storytelling through the curation of objects, however few or many, expensive or thrifted. This is also how I approach my own home. I usually start with what is most important to me - an antique, or a central architectural feature - and then let that inform the rest. It's like a writing prompt, it's easiest and best to start with a single idea and grow it."
COREY: "Inspiration feels very important especially these days, and it comes in knowing we are helping people find joy and sanctuary in their space. I am looking back a lot at how people approached problems from all different eras and cultures, especially indigenous populations. We tend to forget that we have been building homes since the beginning of time, without computers or Pinterest, and I find those techniques and approaches fascinating."
LIZA: "We are pulling from so many things all the time - consciously or unconsciously - and our job as designers is to also be historians and curators. Computers are deeply useful, but algorithms don't feel. You can scroll forever through Pinterest and get inspired, but at the end of the day, you will only be seeing an iteration of your initial search. In fact, most of the work we do is actively fighting against the computer - it's trying to break out of anything pre-programed or purely for profit. Try to take time away from the computer is, counterintuitively, where our real work happens."
LIZA: "In college I double majored in Religion and Theater; I was entranced by ritual and performance, by how we perform who we are in an effort to become who we want to be. Interior design is, to me, an extension of this pursuit. It is set dressing, it is aspirational, it is vulnerable, it is us curating our lives and ourselves. All of this is, of course, psychology. I was drawn towards achieving a Masters in Psychology because I wanted to continue my study of people while learning practical tools to more effectively help them. I do see that as a large part of my work as an interior designer."
COREY: "We are starting construction on an extensive remodel in Manhattan next month, which is very exciting because it's our biggest project in NYC thus far. We have some super fun small projects in the Seattle area, and some new work in Los Angeles. We also just launched a research platform called Field Notes, which investigates inequity in the built environment, and have some exciting partnerships for that."
Le Whit recently published a new Field Notes essay, a series of explorations on the built environment, in PIN-UP Magazine. Read more on LeWhit.com