The vibrant colours and dramatic lines of the Group of Seven co-founder Lawren S. Harris’s work have found a new home with the Toronto design brand, Jeanne Lottie. The newly released Harris Collection features a series of beautifully designed products printed with one of Harris’s most famous oil paintings: Lake and Mountains from the AGO Collection.
We sat down with Jane Ip, the designer behind these art-inspired pieces, to learn more about her connection with art, the Group of Seven, and Lawren Harris.
AGO: What is the story behind the brand’s name, Jeanne Lottie?
Ip: In 1985, my sister Charlotte and I founded the brand by combining our names together, Jane (Jeanne) + Charlotte (Lottie). It also means ‘true happiness’ in Chinese.
AGO: How did you get your start designing handbags?
Ip: I am self-taught and I learned a lot of what I know from the artisans and workers in the factories that we’ve worked with over the years. I love colors and have an eye for fashion. Life is a destiny and I continue to get inspired by everyday encounters with my surroundings.
AGO: What was your first encounter with the art of the Group of Seven, and why does Lawren Harris inspire you?
Ip: I first saw art by the Group of Seven at an event in Algonquin Park 20 years ago. Lake and Mountains is simple and alive and it’s one of the most famous paintings by Lawren Harris. It showcases the Canadian landscape beautifully and I love the color blue!
AGO: Is it true that your home was the subject of a painting by Harris?
Ip: Yes. I saw the house by chance, loved it, and made an offer the same day without knowing the full history behind it. We were so excited when we found out that the Jeanne Lottie Pink House, my home, was the subject painted by Harris in 1920 and that he named it the Toronto House. He must be calling my name for something big!
AGO: What kind of feedback are you hearing from customers about this iconic Canadian artwork on your products?
Ip: Most of our customers recognize Harris’s work and they are so excited to see the image on bags and scarves. They are proud to show off our Canadian talents by wearing or gifting them to their friends and relatives overseas. The collaboration creates mobile art. We are proud to be Canadians!
Take a look at all products in the Harris Collection, online at the Jeanne Lottie shop. And on your next visit to AGO check out the work that inspired the designs, Lawren Harris’ Lake and Mountain on view on Level 2 in the Thomson Canadian Collection (Gallery 218).
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