We meet the Lia-Belle, co-founder of WORN Store, in our newly refurbished Newport store. Lia-Belle looks at home amongst her pieces of WORN furniture - a part of the LM x WORN collaboration - perched harmoniously alongside Alana Wilson’s delicate ceramic vessels and our new season collection.
Warm-spirited, light-filled, often swathed in a cloud of white linen, Lia-Belle King quite literally embodies the aesthetic of WORN, the lifestyle business she founded in 2015 with her wife, Lotte Barnes.
After a fruitful career in fashion publishing and public relations, Lia-Belle and Lotte (also from a fashion creative background) made a Malcolm Gladwell ‘Blink’ like decision; they packed up their life in Sydney and went exploring. After travelling all across Southeast Asia, they settled on building a new life in Indonesia. Embracing their lush tropical surroundings (and a brood of island pups), they discovered a new way of being; one with a slower pace, full of intention and conducive to better living. Inspired by this new terrain, along with access of an abundance of natural materials and traditional craftsmanship, came the world of WORN.
WORN furniture and objects are currently showcased exclusively at our Newport store, available for pre-order purchase with delivery from October.
Tell us about WORN, it’s ethos and how it all came to fruition?
The concept behind WORN is a movement encouraging a slower, more thoughtful way of living. Of purposeful consumption and investing long-term in beautiful items with integrity. WORN is also an advocate for travel and self exploration, which is how the business came to be. We aim to convey the feeling of self expansion and items that evoke the feeling of travel within our brand.
Lotte and I had met at a time where we had both been working in fashion industry for over ten years and were starting to feel a shift in the focus to our work, independently.
We both owned our own businesses, Lotte a creative agency and I was two and a bit years into the running of a fashion PR agency. Together we decided to pretty quickly close our businesses and go travelling for a few months to Indonesia, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Two weeks into our travels we made the decision that, after our travels we’d return to Indonesia and live there. All we had were the items we’d packed before leaving Australia – one suitcase and 25kg travel pack each. It was incredibly empowering to make that decision and as a result of our travel experiences, self realisation and career contemplation during that time, WORN came to be.
In a way WORN is the product of Lotte and my combined life and career experiences. From the ethos to our manufacturing, partnerships and pricing, every element of WORN is a personal and very very thoughtful byproduct of our relationship with ourselves and each other, and our commitment to better living.
WORN has such a serene, warm aesthetic - mid century modern but with an organic, earthy viewpoint. How do you describe the world of WORN?
Well that sounds just perfect to me!
The teak definitely gives a very mid-century feel, but the cane pieces offer a more art deco direction. The combination of these materials partnered with the heaviness of our block stumps make it difficult to describe WORN as being just one thing.
I'd like to think the world or WORN is welcoming. That everybody who admires our work does so because it emulates a feeling of realness. Be it real beauty, real honesty, real care, or real craftsmanship.
When I started WORN I wanted to offer a product that was sincere in its design and manufacturing processes, and obtainable for someone of my age and income. I didn't want an aspirational brand that wasn't obtainable. I wanted a harmonic and practical balance.
You run WORN with your wife Lotte, how do you balance home and work life being a family start-up?
Lotte and I met through work and I've never worked with somebody so well. We completely balance each other in our skill set and push each other to be better thinkers, more productive workers and more considered in our business decisions. Before having a baby we balanced our work and home life incredibly well. WORN is now two years old and for the first year we ran the business from our home in Bali. Work is always being done regardless of the place and time, when you both love a project and are so passionate about its potential, somehow it doesn't seem like work, especially so when you're working alongside someone you deeply admire, respect and love.
When Ophelia came along it was difficult. The transition of physically and mentally not being in the business game anymore was a challenge and continues to be as we renegotiate our schedule to maintain a co-parenting household whilst also working. Lotte carries a huge workload effortlessly and also manages to be the most wonderfully thoughtful mother and partner.
We’re currently in a place where we’re just about to expand so we’re both working pretty tirelessly on the business and in the home as parents but things will change. Soon people will come onboard to help us maintain a better balance and free up some time for the both of us to invest in personal projects and a perhaps even a little bit of ‘me’ time.
What are your favourite pieces in the WORN collection?
For the home the Square Peg stump in Natural, the Cane Lounger and the Armchair in Hide.
For the body I literally live in the Maxi Kaftan, I wear it over everything - pants, swimwear, and on its own with a Classic Stripe cotton/linen towel from House of Six (I wear it as a scarf). If it's not in the Maxi Kaftan, I'm in the Wide Leg Pants in any colour although mostly white, and the Drawstring Blouse or Linen Sweater.
Who are some of your favourite iconic modernist designers?
Pedro Paulo Venzon
How do you approach personal style?
Since having Ophelia my personal style has definitely changed. As typical as it sounds I now consider the practicality of what I’m wearing as well as the personal style I’m manifesting.
I’m quite strict with my own personal style, I stick with a palette of white, cream, black, navy and grey. I only wear natural fabrics and I steer away from any type of obvious branding or chain store purchases.
Living in a relatively warm climate all year round means I need styles that allow my body to move and breath, that are made impeccably whilst also making me feel good when I wear them. When I say feel good I mean garments that meet in that middle place where comfort, elegance and quality all merge.
Do you have a daily uniform?
If I'm not wearing WORN, I’ll be in a pair of jeans by Bassike, or denim skirt by APC and COS tee. When meeting friends or heading out for a meal I'll wear a dress by LA label Doen, or denim with either the Virginia Top or Boleyn Cotton Shirt by Lee Mathews.
What is your most treasured piece in your home?
But if we're talking possessions it would be ceramic and gold bowl made by our dear friend Anna-Karina. It was a gift to Opi when she was born and a piece I had been wanting to purchase for well over a year. I will cherish it forever and it will inevitably become a family heirloom.
You’ve recently become a mother to the most gorgeous little girl. How has becoming a mother influenced you and changed your daily existence?
Becoming a mother had empowered me exponentially. I feel stronger physically and mentally. I’m more grounded and compassionate.
On a daily basis it’s made be become more flexible. It’s my nature that I like to control my routine and my environment, but having a baby means you can’t really anticipate how the next ten minutes are going to be so I’ve really learned to go with the flow.
When I was preparing to become a mother I was very idealistic. I wanted every thought and action to be as organic and close to nature as possible. Sometimes that isn’t always possible and when it isn’t possible or doesn’t suit or even just makes life harder I’m learning to be easy on myself and go with it. Not taking myself too seriously is my new thing. Parenting is hard, much harder than I ever thought, and women need to support and congratulate each other more often, even just for making it to the end of those really rough days.
What makes a space ‘home’ to you?
When I can look around a room and see myself and my family mirrored back through the objects in that room and their placement then it’s home.
Personal possessions with meaning make a house a home.
What Instagram accounts do you suggest someone who loves interior design follow? I ask this because there are so many GREAT interior accounts!
The below are my favourite accounts but they’re not design-exclusive:
What is next for WORN Store?
The future sees international brands coming to WORN for exclusive Australian residencies, and the introduction of ‘WORN for Women’ a series of workshops by and for women with ties to art, meditation and food.
We have our first international furniture shipment to New Zealand in December as well as new design collections for both the clothing and furniture departments of WORN.