Interior designers Laura Wax and Kristin Ertel met 12 years ago and discovered that they both had a passion for design work. Before long, they found themselves sharing their first office – a smallish cubicle at the Oak Street Lofts. From there, they moved into an Ellicott Street studio apartment, where they worked out of a space with no windows – they filled the kitchen cabinets with their design materials. Eventually, their persistence, combined with their talents, paid off. They got an offer to design the office environment on the 8th floor of The Hotel @ The Lafayette. That led them to moving their offices into the same space.
Ultimately, Wax and Ertel began to realize that they needed a showroom office with street frontage. They looked around for a while, before setting their sights on an old brick building at 1225 Niagara Street. They figured that with all of the momentum building, due to the new street infrastructure project underway, and other businesses opening nearby, they should bite the bullet and lay claim to the raw space. “We wanted to be a part of the momentum,” they told me.
Today the L2K design firm (named for Laura and Kristin) sits proudly across from the original Resurgence Brewery. The two have planted some serious roots, by building out a fantastic office showroom. This is where they happily brainstorm with clients, while showing them firsthand the product lines and materials that are available. “We’ve worked with so many different clients,” they told me. “We pride ourselves in saving clients money while still getting that wow factor. It all starts with getting to know our customers. We have people over for a coffee, or a glass of wine, and show them our portfolio. It’s the reason that we moved here – people love the space, and it shows what we can do.”
L2K shares the design space with Losey Renovations – the joining of the businesses under one roof helped to inspire Wax and Ertel to flesh out the idea of building a showroom that would feature products from a number of other local artisans, including Knotty Moose Woodworking, Red Disc, The Sparkwork Studio, Blueprint Design Studio, MP Caroll Hardwood, Botanicus, Buffalo Canvas, Doug Hansgate, John Lang, and Rider Frames. L2K is proud to be supporting the local economy, while shying away from anything that is mass produced.
Wax mentioned that they love to design custom pieces for clients – it all started when they couldn’t find the furniture that they wanted to carry. So they designed their own pieces and had them made. Now their showroom is filled with all sorts of custom L2K conversational pieces.
“We’ve met so many cool artisans through our work,” said Wax. “Losey builds all of the furniture that we design, including conference and reception desks, chairs, sofas, etc. It’s all about collaboration, and being able to offer customers design services that they just can’t find anywhere else.” Ertel agreed, by saying, “We’re here to make the process fun, enjoyable, and exciting. It can be hard to visualize what a project will look like, so we’ve created a showroom where people can walk around and touch and feel the products.”
Wax and Ertel told me that that they only work with artisans that are excellent craftspeople, who are also dependable. They never want to see their clients left hanging because a project is late or even unfulfilled, which tends to happen a lot in their line of work.
The two are also always attending national trade shows to find the latest trends. They plan on hosting a monthly Sip & Shop, where clients can view all of the newest design concepts.
I asked Wax and Ertel how they achieved their vast design sensibilities and acumen. They told me that they both attended Villa Maria College for Fine Arts and Interior Design. That is where they learned the more technical aspects of design, including CAD drafting, how to read construction documents, etc. That’s also where they came face to face with local architects and business owners who gave real life input on their projects.
It is easy to see that these two adept designers are gearing up to take the local design world by storm. They have finally managed to secure an office showroom space that speaks to their abilities. Now that there are more buildings going up, and renovations taking place, throughout the city and downtown, their work is finding a wide range of inroads. Just keep your eyes open, and you are sure to see Wax and Ertel’s signature design work shining through.