The bright kitchen is full of orange and red cooking stoneware, a yellow Blue Star range with red knobs, and a wooden countertop with a yellow bowl of lemons and limes. She applied her mustard yellow apron, steam rising behind her as the water rolled into a boil on the stove top and the light from her windows illuminated her chopping board of fresh chives. Lani Paul began the process of making an udon noodle dish with soy marinated eggs and soy broth as a food and prop stylist.
From New Hampshire, Mrs. Paul moved south to a 1600s homestead in Pinnacle, NC. She was often hosting friends looking for an opportunity to rest in the quiet landscape filled with expansive oak trees and farm animals. One friend in particular loved Mrs. Paul’s home decorating skills and after the Pauls moved to Winston Salem, she hired Mrs. Paul to redecorate Woodbine Agency downtown. She eventually was hired for special projects which included food, set, and wardrobe styling.
She developed her styling skills intuitively and continues to excel as she accepts opportunities for growth, researches techniques, and draws ideas from art and studying composition. She later became a freelance stylist with opportunities working in Boston and Chicago, possessing contracts with Electrolux and Oklahoma Joe’s, and having styled a set for a 1920s period movie. Mrs. Paul is working with her daughter in the industry, as her first assistant on bigger jobs. “She knows how I work and how far to take the food in the prep before handing it off to me,” said Mrs. Paul of her daughter, Caroline Daholt. “She somehow manages to stay ahead of all my messes. She’s a huge support.”
In a world of creative individuals, authenticity can be challenging. “I am highly impressionable,” said Mrs. Paul. “There is this fear I have of being predictable, normal, average. There is a great book Art is War that talks about how difficult it is to give ourselves all that is required to be creative, time most importantly, so I try to give myself that. To sit and contemplate, look at art and nature. Something original will inevitably come of those exercises. At least they have for me.”
May 2, 2022