Designer Profile: Peti Lau

HO: Recently we fell in love with the profile of your own home on Apartment Therapy! Your NYC apartment is a lesson in how to really make home a multi use space.

Now that WFH is the new normal, do you have any suggestions for best practices when your work and home become one? 

PL: Design is about creatively problem solving.  Not only is the aesthetic of a space important as the final outcome, but function and form must be the basis of good design.   One of the things I learned about traveling and being in small spaces, especially living in New York City is small spaces and multi functioning spaces. When I went to Tokyo and Hong Kong, wow I thought New York City spaces was tight.  Cities in Asia I found even smaller but extremely efficient and everything has a home or compartment for the activity that is happening.

My tip for good space planning is to think about the main use for the space, and then the secondary use can be the deciding factor of how the overall aesthetic or what I call “A Vibe” of how the palette can be created in harmony of each other.  Many people have had to double up the bedrooms also as an office.  As kids and parents have to homeschool on the dining table.  I suggest creating a “desk” space that the work area can happen in.  It could be by a window or a wall, across from the bed.

It’s also important to make sure that you mentally shift your mind from sleeping to working when you are in the same space. What I mean by that is when you get up and out of bed, make your bed.  Not only is it visual it’s also mental to separate your mind that I’m not getting up and starting my day. 

At the end of the work day, I would make it a point to clean off your desk so that your mind knows work is done and now you are switching your mind to relaxing.

HO: Is there any one thing that is a mainstay of your creative process?

PL: I believe that one of the main stays about my creative process is that I want to tell a story. Telling a story of the “vibe” or the energy of that space.  Do I want it to be relaxing, or do I want to be stimulated when I’m in that particular space?I also believe that every space I transition into should enter into a different space.

For example, I typically like to design my Living (as I call Public) spaces bright and airy.  The hallways are also great opportunity to create a portal space.

So that can be a space as gallery wall or lots of photographs and art so you can “visual” see a story.

The bedrooms I love making moody and usually a darker color.  It creates a cocoon like vibe to retreat to. But it all depends on the space of the bedroom and how much light it gets.

HO: Selfcare is another hot topic of the moment. What does that mean to you and how can we ‘self-care’ in our homes? 

PL: Selfcare is so ESSENTIAL!  Selfcare to me means SELF LOVE.  Doing something for yourself to appreciate where are you are and be in GRACE.

Selfcare can be as simple as taking a long hot Epsom salt bath or a meditation.

I wake up every morning since quarantine to an Australian Healers Abundance Mediations.  She recommends to listen for 21 days as it can change the way you think. I’ve been listening to it since April!  That’s something I have done since the Pandemic that has really help me shift into a more positive state of mind.  That to me is the essence of what selfcare is.  It’s recognizing the moments for yourself when you can take the few minutes to ground and focus on yourself. To be able to tune in and give yourself space to breathe.

Selfcare at home can be reorganizing or decorating a space in your home such as a book shelf that you’ve been wanting to deal with.  And taking that time to bring a bit of joy into your space is Home selfcare.

HO: What have you been listening to these last few months? Podcasts, tunes, guided meditations? 

PL: I’m a very audio person as I was a trained classical musician growing up.  Throughout the day I’m constantly listening to music, mediations, or audio books.  Mostly music and a few podcasts that I will periodically get interested in.

For news I like The New York Times and The Daily by Michael Barbaro.  He started his podcast right after Trump got elected and I found him wonderful to listen to.

There are several design podcasts that I sometimes listen to about the design business.  Michael Boodro does a great one from Chairish.  A fellow colleague and friend I met in Design School, Gail Davis and I recently started listening to Domino’s Podcast which is pretty cool.

Guided Meditations on YouTube.  Energy Updates from Intuitive Healers.  One of my favorites is Lee Harris.  He’s been so spot on every month about the collective energy of each month.  I discovered him in April during the quarantine and he’s been extremely helpful to help me feel connected and know that we are all going through it together.

For music, I listen to everything from jazz, classical to electronic DJ’s from around the world that I’ve seen or met in my journeys.  I iscovermusic in my Spotify’s Discovery Page every week.  That’s a lot of fun to discover new music and add it to my star folder.  My star folder is literally years of music that I keep on constant rotation. I’ve also gotten back to Hawaiian music which I was once really into.  It has beautiful melodies and vocals that really soothe me.  I would say my staple artist that I’ve been listening to since I was 15 would be Mazzy Star.  She always manages to make me feel something deep when I hear her sing. And for fun, I’ve been obsessively listening to Kim Petras’ Malibu.  I’ve been spending a lot of time in Malibu, so it makes me happy to play that song on repeat like 20 times I try to do things that bring me happiness even if it’s for 3 mins.  Doing things that make you happy makes you grateful and that to me is the most important thing to remember.

HO: We love your signature layers when you design a space, but how do you approach accessorizing and decor when you are tackling outdoor spaces?

PL: The way I design my outdoor spaces are focusing on clean lines in the main pieces of furniture.  I love using Harbour Outdoor furniture as the basis of my outdoor designs.  It has that really refined, chic and elevated modern silhouette. Then for the upholstery I mix in cool textiles and patterns that elevate the silhouettes of the modern lines.  The textiles give another dimension and that gives me the opportunity to pattern mix, which I love.  I love to use funky planters and organic rustic planters with plants that have succulents spilling out to give that sense of lushness to a plant. So, they become a part of the design.  Accessorizing with artistic ceramics as table top decor and mixing in candles throughout the space creates a vibe of eclectic finds and moody lighting in the evening.