Lauriel Leonard
Influencers 13 years ago No Comments


We’ll admit it – we have a weakness for terrazzo. So when we heard from P&C fan Lauriel Leonard, Allied ASID, NEWH, NKBA, about her Atlanta-based company that creates countertops, sinks and tabletops out of recycled glass, shells, lltitle.gifriver rock, wedding rings (“yes, wedding rings”) and even crushed toilets (“new, but imperfect, straight from the factory – I promise!”), we were most intrigued. DEX Studios is the culmination of a career that started with a BFA in Interior Design from the University of Georgia and continued with several positions hospitality, corporate and residential design. Now, as a Partner in DEX, Lauriel designs sustainable, “cool new things” for projects all over the U.S. and beyond, as well as partners with design heavy-hitters like Ann Sacks and Clodagh. Read on to see how she started making silk purses out of sows’ ears…

Remembering way back, what was the first indication that you were destined for the world of interior design”

Since I can remember, holding a short fat pencil drawing horses and dogs at the age of three, I have been an artist “in my own mind”. In college, I came to the harsh realization that I would definitely starve as an artist, so changed my degree from Fine Art to Interior Design. It seemed to be a natural progression. llbiopic.jpgHaving my experience in drawing and painting certainly advanced my design career and opened up other doors besides DEX.  This includes, a company for interior and architectural renderings, which I still do in my “spare” time.

What interior design focused positions have you had and how have they each shaped you”

I have had a diverse background of positions in design. This includes corporate and hospitality design, retail furniture sales, residential design, drawing and painting projects, product design and even hand holding, that have all given me the skills I have today. I truly believe that you can learn something new in any position everyday… and someday you will need it.

You now are a partner in DEX, a company that concentrates on products and custom installations of both polished concrete and distinctive pre-cast terrazzo blends for the hospitality and commercial design industry. How did this come about and how long have you been at it”

While I was busy with my design work, my husband was in the basement playing with a batch of concrete in a wheelbarrow. We were on a mission and going to make our own concrete countertops as we had seen in a magazine. We both enjoyed renovating our own house and studying design as we traveled. Being this was almost 10 years ago, I thought this medium was exciting and pretty cool. So, in a short amount of time he had quit his job and started DEX studios in a tiny warehouse space without electricity. It was absolutely a leap of faith and many thought we had lost our minds!

I was fortunate enough to have built up a good clientele and friendships with designers and architects. It was these relationships, and my foot in many doors, that allowed us an opportunity to use our design and developed manufacturing skills. Every aspect of our company is based on a high work ethic, self-taught methods and trial and error. The only way to truly learn!

As we began with only countertops, we quickly diversified and designed sinks, tubs, benches and pretty much any type of furnishing desired. DEX has also been a “green” company since we opened our doors.  We wanted our finishes to be uniquely ours and found that using these types of aggregates for our terrazzo finishes was the way to go. We are now recycling in-house and offer one-of-a-kind finishes for our clients. Our facility is now over 65,000 square feet with a showroom attached.

DEX collaborates with both Ann Sacks and Clodagh, very well known, established brands in the industry. How did these fortuitous alliances come about and what does DEX provide to them in terms of product and service”

The relationship with Ann Sacks actually started years ago with one product, the “Spool” vessel sink. We had designed and produced the sink but we weren’t marketing it. A personal friend that was a manager of the Ann Sacks Denver store knew of our work and introduced us to Ann. Yes, Ann Sacks is a person. Ann saw the sink and exclaimed, “It’s a home run!” We gave Ann Sacks an exclusive on the sink and a matching top and later added four tile lines, two designed by Clodagh and two designed by Angela Adams.

The relationship with Clodagh started through an introduction from a designer at Kohler whom we were working with. We met at a K/BIS [Kitchen/Bath Industry Show & Conference] show in 2003. Clodagh is a very warm genuine person and we just hit it off. We entered an agreement as a licensee to manufacture existing Clodagh designed products, and later added two tile lines. Since both Clodagh and DEX had relationships with Ann Sacks, it was a great fit to see the products exclusively through the Ann Sacks showrooms.

Currently DEX is entertaining additional manufacturing agreements of similar caliber and expect to make announcements before the end of this year. You never know – the next person you meet could change your life!

What’s the best advice that you could give a student emerging from school”

The best advice I could give a student is to do something you LOVE. You will not mind the long hours and you will always feel successful. Live life to the fullest… it goes by way too quickly!

Now just for fun: What’s your go-to meal when entertaining guests”

I have a friend who gave me a salad recipe with Arriana’s poppy seed dressing. It doesn’t really matter what ingredients you put in it, just so it has apples or strawberries and Brianna’s dressing. It can be served with any type of grilled fish or meat and is dddddd-elicious. I have been asked many times, “Are you going to make “THAT” salad”””“ And, of course, finish off dinner with a pan seared Krispy Kreme donut topped with vanilla bean ice cream. YUM!

Anything else you want to share with our readers”

Our dog, Tug R. Bear, comes to work everyday. He likes concrete because it is cool to lie on! Speaking of pets… I am very involved in local and animal organizations: Atlanta Pet Rescue, Atlanta Pet Pals, Pets Are Loving Support, Project Open Hand, and DIFFA. And if you want a thrill, try this: United States Eventing Association [USEA].

Want to let Lauriel know how cool you think her product is or just want to know where she gets that yummy salad dressing” Then email her at Tell her P&C sent ya.