Photos by Sahel Eghbali and Steven Audia.

Many of us have been navigating long-distance relationships during COVID-19, but designers Golab Amini and Karmen Whinfrey have been maintaining their remote partnership since before it was cool. The pair met while studying industrial design at Emily Carr University, and though Amini stayed in Vancouver and Whinfrey moved back to Seattle, they stayed fiercely in touch, determined to collaborate. “Our favourite thing to do is go on Instagram or Pinterest, find inspirations and send them to each other,” says Amini.

laven studioGolab Amini (left) and Karmen Whinfrey wanted their studio name to connect to nature, and sounded out various tree, herb and flower names that were plentiful in the Northwest—they settled on Laven.

Then Amini got a job at Provide, where owners David Keeler and his late partner Robert Quinnell were eager to see her designs. As they bounced around ideas, including Whinfrey was obvious: they’re ideal co-designers, each with different skills and perspectives (Amini’s the wood whiz, Whinfrey’s the metal master). Under the name Laven Studio, the pair created two collections of candleholders, one in white ash and the other in maple and brass.

candlesBlack-stained maple shines with brass accents in the Stacked collection (left), and bleached white ash contrasts with geometric forms in the Conic collection (right).

Honouring the integrity of the materials was top of mind; the wood grain is visible in both collections. “The grain adds more depth, and it ages better that way,” says Whinfrey. They’re keeping up their momentum, too—next up for Laven is furniture design. “I think for both of us, through 2020, staying creative and problem-solving through these projects was a lifesaver,” says Amini.