When an eye for design combines with a taste for quality, you get an aesthetically pleasing experience with Leah Forester. We visited her on-set to get a sense of her workflow as and took a peek into her background with design:
I was born in Los Angeles so the entertainment business was always around me but I never wanted to be a part of it. Fashion was my thing. I would read Vogue magazine at 14 years old and create inspiration walls of all the models and clothes I loved. Shopping with my mom and styling her from a very young age was what shaped my future career experiences. And it made me quite fearless in my own style. I decided at 20 that I wanted to join the school of life so I quit college and went to work at the Prada boutique on Rodeo Drive. There I worked with an incredible clientele and gained experience that led to me moving to NYC and working with Vera Wang, Isaac Mizrahi and finally Diane Von Furstenberg as her PR and Brand Ambassador for many years.
Diane was the single biggest influence on me as a woman, definitely. She taught me so much about what is possible as a creative woman, a mother, and how to have a deeply unique and expansive approach to life.
These days I don’t have any rules for my creations. Anything is possible. Cheap and expensive can mix, old and new, all types of textures and colors are welcome. My aesthetic is a tapestry of all the things I love from tribal influences to Art Deco to Mexican street chic to Chinoiserie mixed with Pop Art, splashes of neon, tailored details…whatever. It’s total freedom and I think that’s what others feel when they walk into a space I’ve designed, or a photo shoot that I’ve styled, or a dish that I’ve cooked. It’s full of the rainbow of colors, textures, and flavors of my life and the things I love. Through a lifetime of travel, meeting fascinating people, and seeing incredible art and architecture all over the world, these experiences combined deep in my consciousness to create something totally new and unique.
An eye for design comes from the unique way someone views life. I’ve always been a dreamer, an idealist, and someone who identifies with countercultural ideas across the board. At it’s core, my aesthetic is very much a blend of earthy glamour.
When it comes to social media, my relationship with it is a bit of a slippery slope. On the one hand, it’s necessary to have a consistent presence and a “branded” identity. On the other hand it can also be an insatiable black hole of trying to get “likes” and “followers” and I’m not into that. I’m into real friends, real life and real experiences, not virtual ones.
I was one of the founding editors of C Magazine and I’ve always loved using photographs and words to create inspiring ideas. Transferring that to an online format was a natural step because I love the immediacy of being able to write something and post it immediately. I love having control over the art direction. My blog developed out of a need to document my original recipes as well as an outlet to express and share all the amazing information about food and motherhood I’ve been able to glean from living in the epicenter of wellness and alternative lifestyle ideas. It gives me great joy to write and express myself visually through photographs.
There are so many bloggers out there but if you have a truly unique voice and aesthetic I believe you can rise above the noise and have a presence. I would say it’s been a big success for me because already the blog has served this purpose; last summer I filmed a tv show about motherhood that is set to air this year on a major network.
Since becoming a mother, my aesthetic has expanded to include family life, and my views on food have very much changed. I’m someone who lived in New York City for 8 years and existed solely on unhealthy restaurant food; back then my tiny kitchen cupboards were filled with shoes, not food! Moving back to California, especially Venice, affected my eating habits greatly. I met and married a green-food loving yogi and that really set me on a different path. When I became pregnant with twins, eating well helped me nurture them from day one and I really believe that’s what allowed me to have a strong pregnancy, big healthy babies, and a resilient body after giving birth.
Greens are the biggest section on our family food pyramid, followed by healthy proteins and easily digestible grains. Nuts, berries, fruit and cheese are our big snacks. Packaged foods are practically nonexistent; it’s all fresh foods that I make and which is why all my recipes are very quick and easy. It’s 1-2-3-Done. I don’t have time to walk through complicated steps to create delicious food.
What inspired you current family values?
I had a really turbulent family life as a child and I always felt from a young age that I wanted to have a very different experience as an adult and as a parent. I’m 40 years old and going on 10 years with my husband; my mom was married three times by the time she was 35 so I’ve been working hard on breaking that cycle! I didn’t always feel trusted or respected as a child so it became very important to me to treat my children differently, to give them a voice, and give them the space to show me who they really are rather than trying to shape them in my likeness.
The challenges are endless! We all have the old tapes of our childhoods playing in our minds so, like anyone, I have to battle those unconscious moments when I start to become my mother. I’m learning every day how to overcome them…mostly I do it through painfully honest self reflection, correcting myself when I’m off-course, and seeking out guidance when I am lost.
You mentioned how travel inspired so much of the creations you make. How does it fit in your family life?
We travel constantly. It’s like a traveling circus; we just pull up the tent and GO. It’s easy to do that when you are free and single but it has became a joyous challenge to keep doing that as a family. I think that’s why it’s so important for me; I love spontaneity, freedom and being inspired by new visuals, new surroundings, new everything! Change is easy for me; predictability is a killer! Travel has been a way to keep marriage and parenthood exciting and fresh. I love the challenge of getting a family of four from LA to Europe with ease and then hitting the ground and exploring a new city, seeing it all through the eyes of our children, sharing the beauty with them, seeing them open to the world and becoming global citizens. There are so many ways to live on this planet and keeping that sense of wonder, possibility, and expansiveness is what drives me to keep creating and building our family life towards new horizons.
When at home with the kids I cook and do a lot of art and crafting projects. We build, play games and do puzzles. On the weekends we hike or go to museums and try to explore all the options in Los Angeles. My husband and I spend a lot of time talking and sharing our daily lives, strategizing and dreaming about the future, reflecting on our goals and values. On vacation we play a lot of chess and backgammon. My guilty pleasure when I am having my own downtime is watching bad reality TV. It totally numbs my brain!
I truly believe that world peace begins with each one of us actualizing happiness in our own lives so that it can spread outwards into our family, our community, and then the world at large.
The only “me time” I get is in the early morning hours. Waking up early is a big challenge for me but when I can do it, I enjoy the quiet in my meditation room with candles, incense, and all my crystals, books, and cards. I spend the time setting an intention for the day, reading some inspiring passages from one of my many books (I love everything from Buddhism to Taoism to the Four Agreements and many more) and then I chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for about 30 minutes. On the days I do this, I feel like Superwoman!
I’ve been fascinated by spirituality since I was a teenager. My mom used to make me read self help books like “The Road Less Travelled” and write book reports on them as a punishment if I was getting into trouble. I actually loved it. I went to all-girls Catholic school and never vibed with those ideas of guilt and sin; I always felt like we are all perfect as we are, but we have flaws that need polishing, so when I found Nichiren Buddhism, it really resonated with me. Nichiren Buddhism is an ancient form of Japanese Buddhism that involves the daily practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, which is our way of harmonizing and optimizing our lives with the Universe. It’s a recitation that becomes trance-like and meditative while still being vocal, which I love. It literally and figuratively allows me to develop my unique voice and deal with the challenges in my life in a very tangible way. I truly believe that world peace begins with each one of us actualizing happiness in our own lives so that it can spread outwards into our family, our community, and then the world at large. Because of this, my devotion to Buddhism is very important.
There’s an orphanage in the Sacred Valley of Peru that my family has been devoted to supporting through fundraising and direct efforts on the ground. The Ninos del Sol are a family of abandoned and abused children who were taken in and raised with love by an incredible woman and my Spiritual Mother, a woman named Mama Kia. Since her passing 5 years ago the children need more help than ever, and this work gives me much fulfillment and a deeper purpose to my life. There are so many people in the world that need help, it can feel overwhelming. Seeing the smiles on the faces of these children, feeling connection to them, and seeing them flourish makes me feel that I am doing my small part to make the world a better place.
I believe the future lies in the hands of the Mothers of the World.
We are the point of origin from which the next generation of citizens will stem. We need to help each other, share information, encourage one another, share our experiences, and support each other’s efforts. We have to inspire each other. By sharing my way of life and the ideas I live by, I hope to uplift other mothers to be their best, to face and overcome their internal obstacles so that they can support and respect their children. It’s a big message that I weave into every post I write, meal I cook, and all the personal work I do in my own family.