Over sized typography lights channel the rock n roll vibe of Vegas. Their petite lights are super cute and super whimsical. Unique vintage-style marquee signs are a bit bad ass around the edges mixed with old school swagger. We could only be talking about Fromage la Rue, of course. Neon Moose chats to Sarah Fisher and Kane Sullivan, the dynamic duo behind the edgy letter lights.
Love the name! Where did that come from?
Kane and I clearly can't speak French (although he did University level French so at least I have an excuse) and we used to joke when we were about to leave somewhere, along the lines of "should we get the cheque and fromage la rue?". We registered the business name after a few red wines one night and at that stage is was meant to be a joke brand, sort of like Flight of the Conchords but instead of a TV show it was going to be big letters, so big they were ridiculous.
How did you get into typography lighting?
We both come from design backgrounds although I'd say Kane is the technical one, the "how it's going to work" person, I'm more conceptual. Kane is an incredible architectural illustrator so he's very good at the functional stuff. I'm an ex digital producer and worked for about 15 years in digital advertising agencies. We both had a strong interest in type and strong bold graphics, the lighting came later really. When we met we discovered we both loved Vegas style lighting but it wasn't til much later that the two married. When Fromage was born I'd just had my 2nd child and was doing some freelance web production from home, Kane was running our other business <lucidmetal.com>. Kane started making big letters in a rented storage shed near Mullumbimby, you couldn't swing a cat in it and it was freezing in winter, boiling in summer, but he loved the escape and the chance to create stuff. Our friends really liked the big ply letters and we started to sell a few. Kane had an idea to put lights in the letters and I was a bit dubious, I knew he could do it but I was worried about how much time was involved. He came home with the Letter E light one night and I was blown away! I whipped up a quick website, and an image made its way to a national magazine and we suddenly had a product on our hands.
And the motivation behind Fromage la Rue?
Kane couldn't buy the big letters he wanted, so that was the first motivation, to make them just for us, not for any commercial gain, that all came later. I can honestly say we never set out to try to make money.
Why do you do what you do?
We love the results we get. The lights are painstaking to make but they speak for themselves. We also both operate at a fast pace, I think at the end of the day we love to push the envelope a little, having both worked within the boundaries of other businesses, we love being able to do whatever we want in a design sense.
What inspires you?
Typography, grand scale, architecture, handmade, new technology, history, decay, graffiti, film, Vegas!
Three things we don’t know about you?
Ok for me, I'm petrified of balloons, I can't sleep unless I have lip balm on, and if I wasn’t doing what I do now, I’d want to be a spy.
For Kane, he played bass in a NZ band called Kid Eternity that played Big Day Out, only eats beige food and collects vintage TV sets, he has about 30.
What was your strategy in building Fromage la Rue?
Once we got going and realised there actually was a business there, we've been focused on building the brand, making sure we're staying true to what we believe in and always staying in touch with customers, I love Instagram and I really enjoy the interaction with people. We also try to innovate and keep our work fresh. We've also never done a business plan, some would say that's a mistake but for us I guess the ethos is not world domination, we just love doing great work.
Best piece of advice you’ve received in building your business?
Do a business plan? Heh heh no really, I think the best piece of advice we’ve received would be don’t give up. We’ve nearly given up a couple of times, and put the business on hold once, it just got that hard. I’m so glad we pushed through it though, the hard work is just starting to pay off and importantly, we love what we do.
Advice to aspiring creatives out there?
Try to invent something you wished existed. I love this one because there are SO many things yet to be designed and people love new stuff. If you think you've got your idea nailed, explore it deeper, change mediums, do your research, start to make it, sketch it out, write up all the words that surround it, build a model, and don't rush it. And secondly, if you have a great idea, start it, don't think about it or drive your friends/mum/partner nuts talking about it. I know people who had great ideas and watched someone else start. Sometimes just registering the domain name or getting your first quote for materials is enough to start the energy flowing.
It's offical. Fromage is a homage to all things cool.