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EXCLUSIVE: Aerin Dives Further Into Furniture With Williams Sonoma

In an exclusive interview with WWD, Aerin Lauder talks about her focus on the home sector, the East Hampton vibe and what career path she would have followed had she not been born into the beauty business.

EXCLUSIVE: Aerin Dives Further Into Furniture With Williams Sonoma

Aerin Lauder poses with furniture from Aerin for Williams Sonoma.

MILAN — If there is one thing beauty heir Aerin Lauder has proven over the years, she has a flair for setting an elegant scene. Now Aerin, her luxury lifestyle brand, and Williams-Sonoma Inc. have unveiled two new collaborations: Aerin for Williams Sonoma, a collection of tableware, and Aerin for Williams Sonoma Home collection. The latter expands Lauder’s reach in the furniture realm.

The news follows the January announcement of her collaboration with Williams-Sonoma Inc.’s portfolio brand Pottery Barn Kids for a collection of baby gifts, decor, nursery textiles and children’s furniture.

Lauder is the granddaughter of Estée Lauder Cos. founder Estée Lauder. Aerin was founded in 2012 and makes everything from home decor, tabletop and bar products to fashion, beauty, candles, as well as furniture. Aerin Beauty is licensed by Estee Lauder Cos. but Aerin LLC, the lifestyle brand collaborating with Williams-Sonoma Inc., is independently owned by Aerin Lauder.

With these new collaborations, her firm now has the backing to reach a broader range of consumers. Lauder’s first furniture collaboration was with North Carolina-based firm EJ Victor and was revealed in spring 2013.

Inspired by her garden in East Hampton, N.Y., the Aerin for Williams Sonoma tabletop pieces include plates adorned with a classic blue and green floral motif and napkins refined with scalloped edges. Unique pieces include a White Hellebore, or faux floral, arrangement made from silkscreened leaves and sepals which looks like a fresh-cut bouquet. Twelve stems are artfully arranged in a round glass vase secured in acrylic to resemble fresh, clear water; it’s priced at $399. Within the Williams Sonoma Home range, outdoor wicker furnishings feature prominently, while a pink onyx bath collection infuses a dose of luxury, an array that includes a vanity tray and a toothbrush holder, the latter priced at $75. Both collections will launch on Monday and will be available to purchase in Williams Sonoma stores and online.

EXCLUSIVE: Aerin Dives Further Into Furniture With Williams Sonoma

Tablescape Aerin for Williams Sonoma.

Here, WWD talks with Lauder about amping up her presence in the home sphere and diving further into the world of furniture.

WWD: You tested the waters with Pottery Barn Kids and a tabletop collection for Williams Sonoma and you also have your own brand, Aerin. How much of your focus are you investing in home? 

Aerin Lauder: I spend an equal amount of time on beauty, home and fashion accessories. Aerin is a lifestyle brand, so my focus is always cross-category. When the brand first launched in 2012, we did so with a wardrobe of fragrances. Shortly after, we curated a collection of home items for Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. From there, we explored many different collaborations and partnerships with brands such as Visual Comfort, Williams Sonoma, Lee Jofa, Lenox and EJ Victor. Many of these partners are brands that we continue to work with today. 

WWD: Why have you taken this big step into home? What was the reasoning behind this decision?

A.L.: We launched the home category nine years ago, based on the concept that everything can be beautiful if you take the time. The modern woman thinks about beauty as an extension of herself, her home, her wardrobe and her travels. I believe that beauty and home should live together, which is the philosophy behind Aerin. 

WWD: This is not the first time you infused your creative touch on a selection of furniture. What do you like about designing furniture versus designing clothes, accessories?

A.L.: Home collections are interesting because they can be enjoyed by the whole family, rather than just one person. I believe that furniture can be functional and beautiful. Furniture can be used for many years and is often passed down through generations, which emphasizes their versatility and timeless appeal. 

WWD: What was on your mood board when you envisaged this collection with Williams Sonoma?

A.L.: I always turn to places that I love for inspiration. The East Hampton collection was especially inspired by my home and my garden in Long Island, that I enjoy all year long. 

WWD: How is the East Hampton lifestyle evolving? So much of East Hampton’s spirit has influenced interiors and design. What are your thoughts on this? Is this still a special place for you and your children like it was for you and your parents and grandparents?

 A.L.: East Hampton has evolved over the years, but the charm of the town has ultimately stayed the same. This is why it’s such a special place; there are many stores and restaurants that are still must visits after so many years. Even more so, the beaches, the farmstands and the iconic institutions make the destination feel so authentic and familiar. 

East Hampton has always been an inspiration to me, and I understand why others feel the same. There are few places that have the same local sensibility that has continued for generations. The town has the perfect balance of old and new, there is natural beauty everywhere you turn, along with touches of tradition and heritage. East Hampton is still just as special to me and my family now as it was for my grandparents and my parents many years ago. 

EXCLUSIVE: Aerin Dives Further Into Furniture With Williams Sonoma

WWD: How is this collection personal to you?

A.L.: This collection reinforces many of the design elements that I enjoy most. It highlights my love of a blue and white color palette, summertime entertaining and classic accents like wicker, raffia and gingham. 

WWD: As a business woman, how do you feel about home and interiors as a business opportunity?

A.L.: The home and interiors space is a great opportunity because of its lifestyle component and the cross-category appeal. Even as the seasons change, people update their homes with simple touches such as candles, pillows, or decorative accents. Following a period where people spent so much time at home, consumers realized the value of loving the space around you. 

WWD: Your kids are getting older now – how do you make family moments special and spend time?

A.L.: No matter the age of my children, my family is always a priority. Family time is more important than ever. Sitting around the table for a family meal is the highlight of my day. Even as my children get older, this is our time to connect and have meaningful discussions despite our busy schedules. 

WWD: If you hadn’t grown up in the beauty business, what sector would you have chosen from the start?

A.L.: I probably would have wanted to be an editor at a home magazine. Beauty is my heritage, but home and accessories are my passion. I have always been drawn to shelter magazines and the editors’ creativity and inspirational style. 

EXCLUSIVE: Aerin Dives Further Into Furniture With Williams Sonoma

Aerin for Williams Sonoma

WWD: What is the demographic you hope to target with this collection and why?

A..L: I love the idea that the collection is available to a wide range of consumers. One of the elements I enjoy most about entertaining is the ability to bring people together, especially of all different ages and backgrounds. With this new Williams Sonoma collection, I was especially excited to reach their expansive network of Williams Sonoma customers and present the opportunity to entertain at an accessible price point. Ultimately, entertaining is all about making memories and bringing people together, which is an aspirational concept that I hope is becoming more accessible. 

WWD: What destination might influence your next collaboration in home and why?

A.L.: There are many destinations that I am very inspired by. One place that I have always been drawn to and am hoping to incorporate into an upcoming collection is the English countryside. I love the destination’s effortless, feminine sensibility along with its classic elements and touches of whimsy. I think the aesthetic works perfectly with the Aerin brand. 

EXCLUSIVE: Aerin Dives Further Into Furniture With Williams Sonoma

Aerin Lauder and some of her products for Pottery Barn Kids.