Peti Lau is always on the go. Whether the New York–based designer is running from her eclectic Tribeca loft to showrooms in Midtown or jetting cross-country to check in on projects for clients, like The Chainsmokers’ Drew Taggart and Alex Pall, she’s always finding inspiration – and dispersing her specific brand of style.
It’s a style she’s so in tune with that she’s even given it a name: AristoFreak. Lau drops the term frequently, whether in reference to her own nouveau-bohemian aesthetic or as a description of something she loves. “Oh, that is so AristoFreak,” is a big compliment.
“AristoFreak is embracing all your quirks that make you who you are – not being afraid to mix spunk and class and find your own voice,” she explains to me one night at her apartment, which – decorated with stacks of books, art covering every inch of wall space, and various decorative paraphernalia like a stuffed peacock and a neon AristoFreak sign – is really the living tableau of the term.
To see how she instills her style in her work, AD PRO tags along as Lau flies out to Los Angeles for a day to check in on the homes she’s designing for Taggart and Pall.
Designer Peti Lau.
4:45 A.M. EST
I wake up to my alarm and check emails and Instagram for inspiration. I like to follow my colleagues, friends, and fellow designers to see what everyone is up to. Others I like to follow are artists, florists, handicrafters, fabric and furniture companies, fashion influencers, and fashion brands like Isabel Marant and Johanna Ortiz. I like to think that I’m setting an intention for the day by getting tuned into the collective consciousness of what my peers are posting. My routine helps me figure out what kind of mood I am in which will determine my outfit. Today, I’m waking up in New York and falling asleep in Los Angeles.
5:00 A.M. EST
I hop in the shower and make Lavazza pour-over coffee as I get all my luggage together. I’m a sucker for great Italian coffee and I love drinking it out of my antique 1930s Japanese hand-painted teacups. We should use all the beautiful things we have! No sense for them to sit in your cupboard and collect dust. Today, I’m hopping on a flight to Los Angeles where I’m working on two exciting projects for two very talented Grammy winners! One is in West Hollywood, and the second is in the Hollywood Hills.
5:30 A.M. EST
The car picks me up bright and early. If I leave at 5:30, I’ll just beat the morning rush hour traffic to JFK.
6:15 A.M. EST
TSA pre-check is a lifesaver as I zip through the airport and onto my Delta flight. Fingers crossed we take off on time!
7:00 A.M. EST
Takeoff: Here we go! While on flights, I manage to do three things: nap, work, and watch a film. When you’re always on the go, you have to multitask, and do it well. Twenty-minute power naps are key and I am the queen of disco naps! I use a great app called Power Nap that allows me to control my nap time. It recharges my body and mind, and just like that, I’m ready to go again.
10:00 A.M. EST
Midway through the flight, I wake up from my nap and put on a cheesy film that I can watch while I work. Laughing at silly movies makes life a little bit more joyful. Today’s inflight film is Home Again with Reese Witherspoon. Adorable! This is a perfect time for me to catch up on emails and coordinate my schedules and meetings between L.A. and New York.
A scheme by Lau, with her characteristically bright shoes.
9:45 A.M. PST
I arrive at LAX and I love that it’s always sunny here. Time to head into town and check in at my first project. On my way there I’m going to stop into my favorite breakfast spot in West Hollywood, Kreation Organic Juicery on Santa Monica Boulevard. They make the best green smoothies, and I can grab a healthy lunch for later. When in L.A., juice!
10:15 A.M. PST
Thank goodness L.A. traffic isn’t too bad today and I’m arriving on schedule. Even when your work is bicoastal, it’s important to check in on your projects in person. I have some gorgeous purchases from Arteriors and Serena and Lily’s (Double Rattan Hanging Chair) that I want to make sure have arrived safely. While I’m on-site, I take a few quick measurements of the new custom window treatments that will go up. Check! Time for me to hop in the car and head to the Hollywood Hills for my next project.
Alexandra Pastorino’s painting in Lau’s project.
A detail of the decorative painting.
11:15 A.M. PST
I arrive at the second project, where I check in with the decorative painter who has been working on the master bedroom walls for the 11th day! This particular house is a very eclectic, with a mix of ’50s and ’60s midcentury to ’90s industrial style all in one. One of the best features of the house is that it has a tree growing out of the great room. I really wanted to mix those styles by doing a super-layered wall that looks like an old palazzo, but with a hint of metallic to highlight all the metal in the house.
I had actually been interviewing painters to do the custom wall treatment when I serendipitously found a talented decorative painter while having lunch a few weeks back with an art consultant friend at Ponte in West Hollywood. I wanted the master bedroom walls to feel like an old palazzo, with walls layered with years of paint and distress. When I walked into the restaurant, I thought, Bam! These were exactly the types of walls I wanted.
Lucky for me, my friend knew the painter, so I immediately reached out. Alexandra Pastorino is a lovely French decorative painter who had just finished the walls for the restaurant’s opening. She and I developed the boards to create just the perfect texture of metallics, plaster, and color to get the walls to sing. So, today is the big check-in – it looks fantastic.
12:00 P.M. PST
I’m getting hungry, so time to eat my delicious and healthy lunch from Kreation. I can eat while I’m in the car on my way to Pasadena. That’s the New Yorker in me – grab and go! While in the car, I make phone calls to Christina and Raymond, the extraordinary PR duo of Christina Juarez and Company. They have included me on the guest list for the Serena and Lily event on Melrose in West Hollywood tonight.
12:45 P.M. PST
I arrive at the Pasadena Antique Center and meet with my favorite antique dealer, Jeremy Adkins. Jeremy travels across the country to obscure places to find the coolest pieces. He just picked up this amazing ’80s rainbow light box. I need this! This piece is going to be the perfect juxtaposition against Lee Jofa’s Kelly Wearstler black-and-white graphic wallpaper that I’m going to install in the dining room. I also found this awesome ’60s gold skull vase, which is perfect for my second client. Success all around!
Custom velvet designed by Lau.
1:45 P.M. PST
Back in the car again for my next meeting in east L.A., where I will finally see my finished custom ombré drapes. These drapes have taken me months to perfect, so I’m eager to see how they’ve turned out before we install them.
2:15 P.M. PST
I arrive at the workroom and say hello to the team. The custom, hand-painted velvet dye fabric that I commissioned got dropped off 15 minutes before my arrival. Perfect timing! I am so excited to see these beautiful velvets. They are to dye for! The velvet has a vibrant look, but is surprisingly light and almost has an elasticity to the fabric that makes the draping super-romantic and lush.
3:00 P.M. PST
I head back to West Hollywood to the Stark Carpet Showroom on La Cienega to shop for rugs. I immediately fall in love with a gorgeous silk and wool Chinese Art Deco rug. I must have it! This is going to be perfect with the House of Hackney wallpaper I’m installing in the guest bedroom. Heaven!
The finished bedroom in Alex Pall’s home.
The breakfast nook.
3:30 P.M. PST
I walk down the street on La Cienega and make a few stops at my favorite stores. Dragonette has fabulous vintage glassware and finishing touches to make those special moments sing. Harbinger is a perfect place to find cool, vibrant fabrics, like the fantastic coral and tusk fabric for a chair I found at the Rose Bowl to be reupholstered in! Hollywood at Home has fantastic vintage pieces that have already been redone. Peter Dunham has a beautiful way of arranging pieces in the showroom, and it’s there that I found a stunning Old English ottoman that’s been reupholstered in Peter Dunham’s fabric line. I’ll take that one please!
4:30 P.M. PST
Next stop: Marc Phillips Rugs to see their new collaboration with the L.A. artist Retna. Last stop is Arteriors to find some more finishing touches. There, I find the best chain-link sconce that will go perfectly with the custom walls I checked on this afternoon.
5:45 P.M. PST
Time to freshen up my face and put some heels on! I head to Serena and Lily on Melrose for their event. It’s time for a drink. Yay for happy hour!
7:45 P.M. PST
I head over to Soho House on Sunset for a client meeting. I love having dinner at Nava. The Middle Eastern cuisine is so tasty! Most people love the upstairs restaurant, but, in fact, I like the lower-level restaurant because the food is so delicious. It’s a lot less crowded and the perfect environment for a meeting with my client. I like to sprawl out on the booths and there’s a great city view of Los Angeles.
A bar cart in Pall’s home.
Awards and a guitar serve as decor.
9:45 P.M. PST
My client leaves and I go upstairs to the lounge to meet my friends for a well-deserved nightcap.
10:30 P.M. PST
I head to my L.A. pad (a.k.a. my best friend’s home).
11:30 P.M. PST
Catch up quickly with my best friend and say good night.
12:15 A.M. PST
I am finally in bed, and what a brilliant and productive day it was!