Global Young Designer Spotlight: LRNCE

Global Young Designer Spotlight: LRNCE

Belgian-born artist and designer LRNCE creates one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by the colours and traditions of her new home, Marrakech

This article appears in Volume 29: The Taste

Leenaert, otherwise known as LRNCE, is a woman of
instinct. After an inspiring holiday in the Moroccan desert, she
made the spontaneous decision to move to Marrakech, arriving to the
medina with only her sewing machine and little in savings, unsure
of how long she could stay. In the beginning she lived and designed
out of a riad, forming relationships and collaborating with local

From there the landscape, culture and people of Morocco inspired
her to dream and experiment with other materials and mediums. In
partnership with several Moroccan artisans, she expanded her
designs into the realms of fashion and home decor, with products
including shoes, shirts, ceramics, carpets, chairs, paintings and
whatever else sparks her imagination.

Her free-spirited nature is reflected in the fluidity and
evolution of her work. While Leenart may experiment with materials,
what really defines her designs are their bold colours and layered
geometric shapes. She repeatedly uses these elements but changes
the composition, creating objects that are playful in spirit, but
also show a more serious understanding of design.

Since starting in Marrakech, Leenaert has outgrown her riad and
moved to a studio and showroom. Her then boyfriend (now husband)
joined her to help expand the business and she now travels
globally, recently hosting pop-ups in
and New York. Despite her success, she’s insistent on
keeping production limited in order to maintain a collaborative
relationship with the artisans and a focus on creating unique

What did you do before launching the brand?

I grew up in the countryside in Belgium
and studied fashion for a few years at the Royal Academy of Fine
Arts in Ghent, but decided not to finish my studies. Instead I
interned at a brand in Berlin
and was inspired to start LRNCE in 2013.

What were some of the biggest challenges when starting

I didn’t really think about it; I just felt the need to do my
own thing. If it failed, at least I’d tried and would move on and
figure out my path. At the beginning I worked in a bakery half of
the week to save money. When I first made the choice to move alone
to Marrakech, my family didn’t understand, but it helped me get to
know myself. Living alone in a city that’s truly a man’s world was
an exciting challenge, and I made my life here without any help
from the people I knew. I met amazing people who are still my good
friends – I even married one of them!

Why did you decide to move to Marrakech?

While spending a month in the M’Hamid El Ghizlane desert with my
younger sister Michelle, I fell in love with the vibes. I realised
I could work from wherever I wanted, so I moved here. For me, it’s
the city where everything happens. I brought my sewing machine and
made bags with the local fabrics. It took me some time to
understand the city, as it can be very chaotic compared to the
desert, but now I love its craziness.

How has your collection evolved since you started?

I moved to Marrakech with the idea of focusing on bags, but
because I met such inspiring craftspeople, I ended up making
samples for different kinds of product. We tried out new materials
and I was inspired by local crafts and traditions. I tried to merge
this with my original vision and bring the two worlds together.
Slowly, step by step, I’ve discovered new materials and made new
products, and have actually ending up doing more home decor than
fashion. I don’t like to feel boundaries or limits.

How has Marrakech inspired you?

It’s very dynamic; you need to accept it as it is. Things take
time here – there’s time to talk, to invite others for lunch (and
maybe not work), to help somebody out. There’s a kind of liberty
and a “no pressure” feeling that I like. In Belgium, I was a bit
more stuck in the system. I don’t like routine, but here I’m able
to give myself the freedom to do whatever I feel. The colours of
the city, the people, the atmosphere and the quality of life have
changed me and allowed me to focus on other things. More and more
is happening in Marrakech. There are lots of art fairs and gallery
openings, but there are also a lot of foreigners in the art scene –
there should be more locals. For me, it’s all about the artisans;
they are the artists to watch.

How do you make your products?

Almost everything is sourced in Morocco and handmade by local
craftspeople. We only have a few fabrics that come from elsewhere,
such as a block-printed fabric from
. Every product has its own atelier and we work with more
than 35 talented artisans. I design pieces in our studio, and then
we produce it in collaboration with the relevant person –
embroiderers, weavers and so forth. We keep production limited, as
I like to make one-of-a-kind objects that have soul.

Describe your typical day.

There isn’t a typical day in Marrakech, which is really nice!
However, I frequently go to the studio in the morning and, come
afternoon, I’ll visit the artisans and check on production. On
Fridays I paint all day. I love to take photos, so I’m also always
driving my scooter through the city looking for new spots.

LRNCE’s Insider Guide to Marrakech


Riad Mena & Beyond is in the medina and is
beautifully designed. Then there’s perennially popular El Fenn,
also in the medina, and outside of Marrakech there’s Tigmi – it’s
where I had my wedding this summer.


Try Plus61 for an Australian-style lunch – the food is
very fresh. The salad of the day at vegetarian La Famille is also
good. Go to La Paillote for a French-Moroccan fusion dinner
in a beautiful garden, or new place Kabana for drinks with a fantastic view.


The Yves Saint Laurent Museum, MACAAL
(for contemporary African art), Comptoir des Mines Galerie, and the new Dar El
Bacha Museum of Confluences (for hand-painted ceilings and tiles).
If you’re interested in leaving Marrakech, take a day trip to Lalla


Go to the souks, get lost and find treasures – and while you’re
in the medina, treat yourself to a good hammam. I recommend
Heritage Spa. There’s also a great shop in
El Fenn hotel.

Want more insider tips for Marrakech? Check out our city
guide here.

This article appears in Volume 29: The Taste