what's in your toolbox

What’s In Your Toolbox: Rie Elise Larsen

by Annie Werbler

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It was two decades ago that Danish designer Rie Elise Larsen started making things professionally: first as a storefront window decorator, then as an interior stylist; eventually becoming a design consultant, author, DIY website creator, designer, crepe-paper artist, and workshop teacher, with a wholesale company in her own name. Today Rie describes herself as a visual storyteller. She makes magical things that lift her up into a world where everything is possible, and it brings her great joy to share her universe.

“Happiness is not something that is around us; happiness is something that is within us,” she offers. “Even so, it helps us to be surrounded by the things that make us happy!” Beautiful colors, intricate textures, patterns, and fine detail are big parts of her world, making tangible all the ideas that are “marooned” in her notebooks and head. “I always try to focus on the best in everyday life,” Rie says. “Maybe creative blocks hit us when we forget to appreciate how lucky we are.” —Annie

Photography by Anitta Behrendt

What's In Your Toolbox: Rie Elise Larsen, on Design*Sponge

What’s in your toolbox?

In my toolbox at the moment I have a lot of crepe paper, watercolors, and pens (and too little time for everything I want to achieve).

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Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ____________.”

Magic. And very, very lucky.

What's In Your Toolbox: Rie Elise Larsen, on Design*Sponge

What’s on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

My favorite book right now is definitely Fashionable Selby by Todd Selby — and my private notebooks with blank pages. Todd’s book confirms my belief that a person should follow his or her heart, and then my notebook gives me room for all my thoughts and ideas.

What's In Your Toolbox: Rie Elise Larsen, on Design*Sponge

How do you keep yourself organized?

I try to keep my stuff together in boxes and drawers with names and labels so I can find them easily. But in truth, my life is very impulsive and not organized — that’s what suits me best — and where I feel free, creative, and comfortable.

What's In Your Toolbox: Rie Elise Larsen, on Design*Sponge

If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

Super computer skills, so I could easily and quickly use all the cool drawing and graphics tools that amazing machine contains. And then I’d like to understand, read, write any language. If I had these superpowers I could bring to life all the ideas that are marooned in my notebooks and head. I’d love it if I could share all these ideas with the world.

What's In Your Toolbox: Rie Elise Larsen, on Design*Sponge

What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist, maker, or designer?

My parents have always taught me to follow my heart and believe in my dreams. I have absolutely not always taken the easy road, and have not always ended up where I’d hoped to go — but if you’re an artist you have to be true to your heart. True art is created from the heart, and not with calculating reason.

What's In Your Toolbox: Rie Elise Larsen, on Design*Sponge

How do you combat creative blocks?

I always try to focus on the best in everyday life. Maybe creative blocks hit us when we forget to appreciate how lucky we are.

What's In Your Toolbox: Rie Elise Larsen, on Design*Sponge

Where do you like to look or shop for inspiration?

I like lifestyle magazines — I look in both Danish and international magazines — World of Interiors and Bloom from Edelkoort are steady favorites. But Instagram is certainly also a good place for inspiration — without it I wouldn’t have found your cool universe.

For shopping I love local flea markets and also go to my favorite Danish designers: File Under Pop, who make terrific tiles and wallpaper, Studio Arhøj, who make beautiful handmade ceramics, and Bungalow, who make the most lovely cotton paper and textiles with handmade blockprints.

What's In Your Toolbox: Rie Elise Larsen, on Design*Sponge

If you could peek inside the studio or toolbox of any artist, maker, designer, or craftsperson, whose would it be and why?

Vivienne Westwood has always fascinated me — I love her raw and 100% unorthodox design and her global call to take responsibility for our earth. She is definitely a true artist in my opinion.

What's In Your Toolbox: Rie Elise Larsen, on Design*Sponge

What’s on your inspirational playlist at the moment?

A lot of jazz and a Danish artist, Ohara Sound — her beautiful lyrics and dreamy music are great background when I draw or make my crepe paper.

What's In Your Toolbox: Rie Elise Larsen, on Design*Sponge

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