Meet Miss Larroudé, Gabriela Noelle.
This Cuban-American artist’s immersive art is inspired by childhood, expressive of the visionary way she views the world, including Imaginary Phriends, the work she created for Pharell’s online auction. We share in our mission to bring elements of fantasy into our daily lives, which makes Noelle the embodiment of everything Larroudé is all about.
What do you do?
I create art and design objects that inspire play and speak to our inner child. Some of these include swings and seesaws (for adults just as much as for kids!) and sculptures that seem to come straight from a child’s imagination.
Favorite Larroude Shoe for Fall?
What excites you about Fall?
I’m excited that Halloween is right around the corner and I get to trick or treat with my three year old twins! Love the idea of getting to know our neighbors. Seeing the experience through their eyes makes it so magical.
Favorite restaurant/dish in the city you live in?
It’s a restaurant that opened recently, but it truly seems like it was curated just for me! The decor is very 80s, in the style of Memphis Design, which is my favorite most inspiring era ever, the menu design and art is great and my favorite dish is the Pickle Plate. Fun fact about myself, I love pickled things! Oh yeah, the name is The New Schnitzel House. Had to include a couple more to represent my Cuban heritage! Tinta y Cafe makes the best sandwiches in Miami, in my opinion. They are lighter versions of Cuban classics and the decor in the space promotes a very laid back vibe. It feels like you’re in your Abuela’s house and there is an emphasis on not having wifi to encourage actual socializing among humans :) Mary’s Coin Laundry is also a Cuban sandwich spot that takes orders and serves through a window from an actual coin laundry…the best part is they are open 24/7!
What inspires you?
My daughters are my biggest source of inspiration. Before they were born, I was creating playful objects and art, but hanging out with them and creating with them has brought a whole new level of fun and weird to the equation! Recently, we’ve been into creating large scale paintings together which is very far from my usual medium of CNC routed acrylic that has to be mapped out and planned digitally. The result is very free and loose and it has changed my whole practice and the thought process behind my work. I’m also inspired by my great grandmother. When she was a teenager in Cuba, she took over my great-great-grandfather’s real estate business although she was passionate about painting and singing Opera. She then lost the business after fleeing Cuba and her story and passion inspires me to put my passion first above all, follow my heart and never give up.
How did you get your start?
My mom is an interior designer and had a dream to start a furniture collection, so when I finished school at Parsons in NY, studying Design and Management, my mom asked if I would partner with her to launch her furniture collection. We designed together and I managed production as well as the branding and we took our collection to trade shows, especially High Point, North Carolina, which has one of the biggest furniture shows. We worked a lot with acrylic so this gave me hands-on experience creating files and working with acrylic, which is one of my main media today. I also learned that the most successful pieces, in my opinion, had an intention and purpose and inspired activity. We designed a ping-pong table that doubled as a dining table and I also designed my swings during this time. This is where the journey of creating playful art and objects for the home began. Focusing on my art came about a couple years later when my mom was showing her showroom to prospective renters, they happened to see one of artworks. Turns out they were gallerists and were interested in representing me. I must say my whole journey has been very serendipitous!
Piece of advice for your younger self / One thing you wish you knew when you were first starting out?
Enjoy the process, trust the timing, and invest in getting to know yourself—I’ve learned telling your personal story and having a unique perspective is the most valuable thing you can bring to your career and life in general.
What does a typical day at work look like?
Since my daughters are three and haven’t started school yet (they’ll start at the end of this month!), I start my morning slowly so that I can spend time with them. I get into the studio around 10am and my day involves planning (I’m a sucker for to-do lists) answering emails, and then designing—this past month was dedicated to designing and drafting specs for a toadstool release, which involved created 30 unique gradients and applying them to their respective furniture pattern. I’ve also spent time drawing and designing a new series of Imaginary Friends. A day working on the Imaginary Friends would look like drafting all of the details digitally first on my favorite program, Adobe Illustrator. On this program I’m able to draw the file for the eyes and feet to be lasercut or CNC routed, the internal wooden frame, the exact size and specs of the legs and torso as well as the gradient of the fur. Once these details are sorted, I can get started hand dyeing the Tibetan lamb which would take up my second half of the day. Dyeing the Tibetan lamb is a process I get to do outside with music on and it helps me shut off all the thinking I’m usually doing.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you face in your line of work? How do you navigate them?
Right now, my biggest challenge is knowing when to embrace growth. I tend to overthink, over-plan and have a tendency to want to control everything. I finally have one person that assists me with production and she has been a life saver although she isn’t full time. It’s challenging to focus on the artistic vision and creative process when I’m juggling the administrative work like invoicing and shipping logistics, marketing, social media, packaging, quality control..etc. In order to navigate this, I try to take it one step at a time and think of growth as taking a step in the right direction, focusing on what I enjoy and what only I can do best. A lot of trust goes into the process, too, so I try to stay in a state of positivity and reception so that I can listen to my intuition as well as the universe guiding me.
What is one of your biggest successes so far?
One of my biggest successes was a recent exhibition I was honored (and shocked!) to be a part of called Just Phriends curated by Sarah Andelman. It was a group exhibition in Perrotin Gallery in Paris celebrating Pharrell and his debut as creative director of Louis Vuitton during men’s fashion week. I felt like I was in a dream because over a third of my life, I’ve been fascinated by Pharrell and his childlike outlook on life. I created a group of Imaginary Friends inspired by the Pharrell family and the cherry on top of this already amazing experience was the group of artists that I shared the space with, like FriendsWithYou and Takashi Murakami!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hmmmmm….good question! I’ve been dreaming about designing a hotel or bed and breakfast with the theme of spreading play. It would be a physical space to experience my art and home objects and it would encourage interaction and engagement. I like the idea of it being geared more towards adults where they can escape their routine and travel back to a youthful state.I also hope to keep weaving my Hispanic culture into my work. I hope in five years I’m able to travel to communities in South and Central America and work with artisans to keep hand-crafted traditions alive and support women, who might not have the opportunity, otherwise.