Functional Designs that Prompt a Smile

Places / June 11, 2010

Forty-two-year-old designer Lara Moore started out in 1997 with a business plan and a line of credit. She was determined to make art out of tissue paper and resin – and to succeed.

What’s she’s built since then is an design-driven business in a 10,000-square-foot studio with five employees. It’s dedicated to producing made-to-order, functional furniture meant to brighten anyone’s day.

She calls her original idea Bella Bella Arts.

“It tickles people,” the Indiana artist said. “I like to design things that make the viewer smile, but not laugh. And people get addicted to it – they like to do groupings with it.”

She designs tables, countertops, wet bars, island tops, mirrors, coffee tables, and wall tiles. All bear her own palette of distinctive colors and thoughtful patterns.

“I like to look at French fabric, and iron work and Byzantine and Persian patterns, and then try to imagine whatever I’m looking at as if it were made out of paper,” she said. “I like clean. I like texture. Recently, it’s been more Swedish/Nordic influences.”

She starts with a wooden form, adding paper mache patterned on top. She’s developed a method of layering that then yields the luminosity she’s after. Then she applies as many coats of resin as needed to make the piece near glass-like.

“It’s really simple,” Lara said. “It’s humble tissue paper.”

All her pieces are made to order. She’ll develop a design, show it to a client for approval, and then produce it.

Though her work is featured in eighteen juried shows a year and displayed in hundreds of galleries across the nation, she doesn’t consider herself a “real” artist.

“I’m not making any political, gender or otherwise lofty commentaries with my work,” she said. “I make pretty things,” she said. “I’m good at putting color and pattern together in a pleasing way.”

And, she said, she has a winning personality.

You can see that in her work..

For more on Bella Bella Arts, go to

For more on An American Craftsman Galleries, go to

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Michael Welton

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