Meet the duo behind interior design concept store L.A. Imports - People NZ
Meet the duo behind interior design concept store  L.A.  Imports

Meet the duo behind interior design concept store L.A. Imports

Inspired by the colours of Santa Fe that had started to appear in Auckland 30 years ago, Lorraine Allen packed her bags and journeyed to Mexico – returning home with beautiful handmade product to fill her then apartment as her first showroom. Today, she remains in contact with many of those same suppliers.

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

Today, Lorraine remains director of the company with Michelle Rix-Trott also using her interior design know-how to help homeowners, interior designers and architects across the country add quality, handmade pieces to their projects. We spoke with Lorraine and Michelle to learn more…

I just love that – the individuality and the softness that handmade quality brings to a product.

“I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to Mexico’. So off I went, and I was pleasantly surprised at the beautiful product I found there,” shares Lorraine, who qualified in interior and furniture design in Australia.

“Mexico was colonised by the French, Spanish, Italians, Lebanese, Greeks, Cypriots – the Spanish initially went there, taking their culture with them and taught the locals how to build in the Spanish style. This was in the 15th century, but their practices have never been automated, everything is still made by hand and I just love that – the individuality and the softness that handmade brings to a product.”

L.A. Imports is an interior design concept company specialising in the authentic European style.

It’s this unique quality that keeps Lorraine as passionate about the product as she was when L.A. Imports was established in 1992.

“When I unpacked the first container 30 years ago, I walked into my lounge room and the sun was coming through the front window. There was a beautiful, soft energy all around the product like it was left there by the artisan. This is still a pleasure to live with – we feel it every morning when we walk into the showroom.

“The handmade aspect brings X factor to a room – whenever people walk into our showroom, they say that they’ve been transported, and you can’t get that with machine made products.”

Lorraine Allen, director at L A Imports, and Michelle Rix-Trott, sales manager.

For Michelle, joining the L A Imports team 17 years ago was a natural fit.

“I originally studied fashion design and one aspect of fashion that I really enjoyed was designing and making patterns, which is quite architectural. I guess that’s where my passion for interior design stemmed from – the architectural and spatial side of fashion.”

When customers visit the showroom, Michelle has one key piece of advice to help them on their renovation journey: “Take it slowly. Don’t try and buy everything at once, let things evolve.”

“You only need a few quality pieces to create mood in a space,” adds Lorraine. “It could be the lighting, it could be the artwork, it could be the couch or a coffee table…”

It’s about designing the product and marrying it with the New Zealand lifestyle.
The L.A. Imports showroom is open weekdays in Ellerslie, Auckland.

The pair’s experience in design means they can work closely with designers and their clients to bring their ideas to life.

“People tend to have a preconceived idea of what Mexican design is like, and they’re quite surprised when they come here and don’t see that. It taps into the Southern European side of it, and then it’s about designing the product and marrying it with the New Zealand lifestyle as well,” says Lorraine.

When you visit L.A. Imports, hidden down a driveway in Ellerslie, Auckland, you’ll certainly be transported and inspired. The showroom is open weekdays, with weekend viewings by appointment.

Learn more or get in touch with L.A. Imports.

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