The Los Angeles-based design firm creates sustainable products that last

Graf Lantz is a Los Angeles-based design firm that specializes in creating stylish, sustainable products made from natural materials like merino wool felt, hemp and vegetable-tanned leather. From their Silver Lake studio, Holger Graf and Daniel Lantz turn out beautiful, functional, and beautifully biodegradable handbags, cutlery, wine sleeves, and apparel. The picture of German precision (Graf has a Ph. D. in structural engineering) mixed with Japanese minimalism (Lantz was once a Mormon missionary to Japan) under the bright California sun starts to feel fresh.

With the company celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, with 25 percent growth year-over-year, I checked in with founders and Executive Creative Director, Louis Terlin, to find out what’s new and what’s coming up and what inspires the team behind the products that are, well, I felt deeply. . Here’s part of that conversation:

What is the specific idea behind Graf Lantz and the work you do?

Daniel Lantz: For us, the idea has always been, “How do you make something useful, something that lasts, is made of good materials and is of the moment?” Much of what is on the market is disposable, short lived, and low quality. We make solid things, powerful things.

Louis Terlin: In a world full of plastic products, people are really impressed when they see something that does what it says it does. Graf Lantz makes many different products, but I think the success of the ship, for example, speaks to how much Daniel and Holger can achieve very little. In a way, a coaster on a table is the purest form of industrial design, right? It is the least effort given to the substance to transform it into the most effective product. I think that’s why people have responded to it, and that’s been our biggest success lately. There is clearly an emotional connection to it. The coaster represents the company’s soul – simplicity, meaning, function, style and durability.

What does 2023 look like for the brand? Anything new?

Holger Graf: We are expanding our markets in a more organized and professional way in Japan, UK and Canada, where we have been selling for a while. We recently launched a Download Campusthe first new bag launched in years, and a A limited edition collection of Wine-OtesIn collaboration with Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Award winner Sway, Sway is showcasing seaweed-based “plastics.”

Louis Terlin: We really want to solidify what we do as a lifestyle brand, because that’s really what Graf Lantz has been all along. When you’re a small company hitting all these different points, it’s hard for people to see the full lifestyle scope of what you’re doing. But 15 years later, we’re making a very concerted effort to expand into categories. We will launch the glassware in two weeks. We’ve already added the clothes. Our goal is not to take over the world but to show how our core products – coasters, tabletop objects and bags – survive in a much larger context than just a one-time item you buy as a gift.

Let’s talk about bags. We’re big fans in this house of Merino wool tote bags, such as Jaunt Minnie; the Bedford Merino Wool Felt Bag, among others. My wife gets their compliments every time she walks outside with one slung around her shoulder. How many bags are still your focus?

Daniel Lantz: People have had our bags since the day we started, and they continue to be an important part of what we do. We love tools. Having the perfect tool for the right moment is always the best feeling. Bags like that for us. Carrying something in a bag made of felt and animal hair combines beauty with utility – it’s a concept that’s been around for 10,000 years.

Louis Terlin: It is no exaggeration to say that bags have allowed us to grow as human beings. The fact that we can leave the house and carry things with us has allowed humanity to move around the world.

Holger Graf: Our bags will always be the core of our brand. We are expanding our offering. We’re making tote bags that are more practical and are moving on to more dressy bags that focus a little more on elements of color and softness.

Finally, what inspires you right now?

Holger Graf: I’ve found an entirely new method of tanning that improves almost every aspect of the process, and while I can’t go into detail just yet, I will say I am 100 percent consumed by it and by spending time in an ugly old tanning place.

Louis Terlin: I find myself so inspired by incidents that happen in moments of low-tech human production that it could be outdoors art or it could be books about interiors that are less literal than traditional interiors. With music, it might be old African jazz records or even early punk albums that have more texture than polish. The beauty of imperfection, this is my inspiration.

Daniel Lantz: I have this weird thing about him [the 1980s British electronic group] Hell. I listen to music a lot, I can focus on work while it’s on. It’s authentic, it’s less plastic produced, and I think that sums up exactly what we’re trying to create as well.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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