In the Kitchen:Laura Schoorl

of Pansy Interview and Images by Aimee Brodeur

Laura greeted me with hands full of one-of-a-kind ceramic cups and bowls. She was just moving into her kitchen as I arrived. The light poured in from its many windows and a breeze carrying the scent of eucalyptus filled the room. Although most of the apartment remained empty, it had a distinctively serene energy to it. I am a longtime fan of Laura and her business, Pansy, which, like her personal style, is both original and uncompromising.

In a given day, how many hours do you usually spend in the kitchen?

It depends on my work schedule, ideally a couple of hours each day. I normally just eat breakfast and dinner here, because for lunch I’m usually out and about and super busy with Pansy.

Since you’re pretty strapped for time, do you have any quick meals that you always come back to?

Takeout. I literally just put a fork in it and I’m ready to go. Last year was so busy because of Pansy’s growth that I didn’t get to cook as much. I hadn’t stopped working for 2 years straight, and I hadn’t taken a vacation. I still answer all of our customer emails!

When was your most intense year running Pansy?

2016.

What made it so intense?

It was just me- writing every email, shipping every order, creative directing and producing all the shoots. I have an assistant now, Alison, who does all of our in house pattern making. I get a lot of customer service emails where people seem confused about what it means to be a natural brand, which has made me want to do more educational work with textiles. It’s hard to have ethics in an unethical industry. I never thought in a million years that I’d have a clothing line!

If you could redesign your kitchen, what would change?

I’m not sure, because I haven’t cooked much in it yet. A huge issue in my old apartment was that there was only one outlet and you could only plug one thing in at a time.

That sounds crazy frustrating!

It was. When I first walked into this apartment I looked around the kitchen and saw so many electrical outlets, I was beside myself (laughing). I don’t have an indoor dining room table yet, but I’m probably going to have a table outside first. My main goal is to eat outside as much as possible. I feel like I’m going to be 10% happier just be able to have these porch doors open. I can look around and think, “Oh, I made it. This is my life now. I’m never going back. Just this tiny garden and small kitchen… I’m so happy.”

Any organizational secrets you’d like to share?

I have a lot of trays, bowls, and herbs. I just kind of dumped it all here for now, but I need to get more. I like putting things in glass jars so you can see everything in a super beautiful way, and then you’re not using as much plastic.

 

Do you look to any books, blogs, or any other inspiration for the kitchen?

I’m not someone who usually looks to others for inspiration. I intuit what makes sense for the space. I don’t know if that makes for good interiors. I’m scared of having so much space here at this new apartment. I’m hoping it will come to me…

What is the story behind this set of cookware?

I bought these all last time I was in Oaxaca. We went to this place where all the women make ceramics. My friend Tessa Watson, who runs Ogaard Gallery, was staying there and hanging out for a while, and she found them in a market. They’re kind of normal bowls but you can cook directly on the stove with them. I love it because I can cook my oatmeal in it every morning and then eat directly from it, so I save myself- or my husband Shane- the washing of another dish.

Do you have any ceramics of special sentimental value to you?

I have a lot of ceramics that I have made. They work for so many different types of food. I made them three or four years ago while I was taking classes at Laney City College in Oakland. They’re pretty precious.

This is Jessica Niello, she’s an amazing ceramicist and painter. Her husband owns The Ramen Shop in Oakland. It’s so good. All of the ceramics there are hers. Her stuff is normally glazed, but I love the rustic element of this piece. I have this other piece I love from her that is two swans, which I keep in my studio.

Lastly I really love my baby mortar and pestle. It doesn’t work that well, but I made it.  I was, like, this will be for seeds. But then they kind of pop out… [laughs].

 

Do you have any OCD routines in the kitchen?

No, I should probably be less messy [laughs].

Any investment pieces that you are happy you made?

My Vitamix is one my most expensive purchases, and it was so worth the investment. I didn’t have a blender before it. I also have a big Dutch oven.

I see that you have a lot of wine from one maker here, what’s the story behind Handley Cellars?

My friend Lulu is from Philo, which is in the Anderson Valley near Mendocino. Her mom started in the ‘80s when there weren’t a lot of female winemakers, and now Lulu is taking it over. She was working on a horse powered farm in Maine for a while and she’s worked with winemakers in Spain. She and I met at UC Berkley where we taught organic gardening together. They have a super beautiful vineyard and winery, and it’s all organic.