Whether Laura Schwamb is collaborating with the creative team of an international luxury beauty brand or immersing herself in personal artwork, the designer looks to raw human experience for inspiration.
In the position as Global Creative Director, Schwamb reports to both Tom Ford International and Estée Lauder. She has spent the past five years building and leading the brand and overseeing its creative department. Her responsibilities include working with both companies to ensure end products meet budgets and deadlines as well as their creative expectations and strategic goals. The scope of Schwamb’s work includes maintenance of seven Signature fragrance lines, one Private Blend line of 18 fragrances, Neroli Portofino spa line of 8 skus, 2010 Cosmetics launch of 124 skus and all new cosmetic and fragrance launches and product line updates.
“My career at Tom Ford has been enlightening” said Schwamb. “One of the highlights of the job is being a part of Mr. Ford’s beauty start up team and having a voice during its inception. Being able to build and then watch the brand grow, and being a part of its strategy is inspiring.”
Prior to joining Tom Ford Beauty, Schwamb played a founding role in the Manhattan-based studio STEAM. The studio is involved with every aspect of packaging, from bottle design to cartons to collateral—every piece necessary for a new fragrance or cosmetic launch (aside from marketing). She has landed projects with Aramis, Calvin Klein, Estée Lauder, Grey Advertising, Givency, Island Records, Kenneth Cole, Lancaster, Lancôme, Olay, People, Ralph Lauren, Redken, Skyy Imports, Tommy Hilfiger, and Victoria Secret Beauty. Schwamb gained the experience she needed to found STEAM while working as the senior art director for the Guy Laroche and Armani brands at L’Oreal.
Schwamb originally decided to pursue art/design at CCS after studying theology, language and fine arts at two other schools. She lived in downtown Detroit in the Leland House Hotel and worked as an intern at Charles Tom Scholl (CTS) Agency. Both experiences equipped her with the tools she needed to later make it as a professional competing against others in the big city.
“I was able to approach my first job, Henry Dreyfuss Associates, with confidence that I had some skills,” Schwamb explained. “I can still hear my mechanical production instructor, Chuck Champaign, saying, ‘Hurry up! Time is money. Are you done yet?’ And then. ‘I’m done, are you?’ That used to make me crack up and still does today. Sure, it was mechanicals, but back then that’s how a junior designer started in the industry. I gradually grew into design and color.
“Mike Mikos was my favorite instructor.
"He was talented, articulate and encouraging. Always honest in his critiques, he treated me as his peer—not a student.”
In her spare time, Schwamb is committed to her personal artwork. These projects provide balance and provide an outlet to explore more raw expressions of the human experience through various types of media, including video, photography, drawing, painting and neon. Her work has been shown at the Jacobson Howard Gallery in Manhattan as well as other galleries in New York, Amsterdam and parts of Ireland. One of her video pieces, “Pousser,” played at the Tangent Gallery (Detroit) in 2005.
“My art is influenced by psychological moments of my day to day,” Schwamb explained. “I try to keep a common thread of physical and raw evidence of the human hand in all of my works. When I’m creating a work, I focus on the core of a personal psychological emotion. I turn that into an objective visual representation or a simple document based on the experience.
“All of my experiences have given me the opportunity to travel and create unique designs with a global perspective in addition to meeting other highly creative passionate people. Passion, curiosity and education is and will be what continues to drive me.”