FORM on Design: Welcome Companions’ Architectural Foundation

Architect Laurel Consuelo Broughton's Welcome Companions line of accessories offers a novel spin on traditional forms. Image courtesy Welcome Companions.

Architect Laurel Consuelo Broughton’s Welcome Companions line of accessories offers a novel spin on traditional forms. Image courtesy Welcome Companions.

Architects have a long and storied history when it comes to designing furniture? It’s a space to play and experiment. While furniture and furnishings might be the natural, other practitioners have turned their attentions to other forms. Laurel Consuelo Broughton, who trained at SCI-Arc and serves as an adjunct on the architecture faculty at USC, is one such designer. She’s the force behind Welcome Projects and its off-shoot, Welcome Companions, an endeavor that “that reinterprets everyday sartorial accessories and objects through a formal and surrealist lens.” Recently, she collaborated with artist Miranda July on her most recent collection of accesories, which includes a handbag, the Miranda, named for July. We chatted with Broughton about her project and the opportunities it offers her, not to mention the ways it has informed her approach to design.

Why handbags? What is it about the form that allows for experimentation and play?

It’s really accessories— love that they are additive and an object or a totem that you carry with you. Why not carry something that exudes fun? 

How does being an architect inform your approach to the line?

As an architect I was trained to analyze form while simultaneously attaching a kind of narrative. My pieces tend to also do both things. They play with how we perceive familiar shapes while also having an embedded narrative as a group. Accessories are also accessible in a way that architecture isn’t.  

What opportunities does designing this line afford you that a traditional architecture practice might not?

Architecture tends to be very serious so the line offers way to think about serious ideas in a more playful way. Fashion also operates a speed that architecture can’t compete with—so in 3 months I get to rapidly develop and put into action ideas that in architecture would take years to realize. 

As a teacher of architecture, how has your Welcome Companions work changed your approach to presenting or explaining architecture to students?

I think it’s allowed for a humor to brought into the architecture education environment that isn’t usually apparent. 

Would you see yourself designing furnishings at some point too? Why or why not?

I’ve dabble in furniture actually. It’s funny I was just talking to a friend about making a WELCOMEHOME line…I love furniture but I think I’d rather do a line of clothes instead…

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