Across the World, Around the Corner: London District Studios

Functional meets fashionable at London District Studios.

It’s from their fingertips to the walls and floors of your home.

“We envisioned a neighborhood-based business with a focus on community and lifestyle-driven offerings of furnishings and fine relevant art with a global relevance,” said Leslie Rowland. “We’re somewhat deceiving, as we have a funky neighborhood store, yet we both play on the global scale in the home décor and furnishings stage.”

A duo of artisan furniture designers, Rowland (L. Rowland Art/L. Rowland Abstract Paint Jeans) and Wade Oppliger (ABW Brand) launched London District Studios in 2016. Since then, they’ve created a space where high-end art and fashion styles intersect with the unique tastes of clients who want equal parts comfort and inspiration.

“Well, the concept germinated while we were living in Austin, Texas. So much of the great vibe people hear about Austin comes from the local start-up business models,” Oppliger said. “Part of the charm of many of them is their venue itself. Unexpected reuse is as interesting as the business itself—we’re seeing quite a bit of that in Asheville, as well.”

“One thing we share is extensive travel in and out of the USA. For creative people, exposure to new places, people, and culture can’t help but impact your interpretation of, well, everything really.”

—Wade Oppliger

Located in the London Entertainment District of Biltmore Village, the studios are part of a new and exciting chapter in the village, a vibe that is continually swirling around the city of Asheville.

“With another very large apartment complex coming up just behind ‘The District,’ our newly tagged neighborhood, the London Entertainment District, will soon be the center of another pocket of the diverse and engaging town that Asheville is,” Oppliger said. “Randy Shull has been updating his studio, 22 London, presenting two major installations and recently hosting a magical dance troupe from Philadelphia in conjunction with Black Mountain College Museum. Burial Beer purchased the six buildings at the end of our block, around the corner Hillman Beer and Rise Up Deli opened, [and] Eda Rhyne Distillery will soon open their tasting room next to the newly relaunched French Broad Brewing.”

Both Rowland and Oppliger come from extensive artistic and professional business backgrounds. They’ve traveled the globe as much as they’ve conjured ideas from it, a well of knowledge and innovation whose depths are unknown.

“One thing we share is extensive travel inside and out of the U.S. For creative people, exposure to new places, people, and culture can’t help but impact your interpretation of, well, everything really,” Oppliger said. “For Leslie, her time in Asia, India, and South America greatly shaped her appreciation for nature and culture—aspects [that] show up in her work all the time. One of her strengths is her observation of the nuances that make things unique and compelling coupled.”

“Similarly, Wade was exposed to many different aspects of the furniture industry,” Rowland countered. “Starting in the more conservative and traditional design world of the 1980s, then branching off towards the creation of furniture that better fit how people actually lived—comfortable, less-fussy, classic designs. I think the new tagline for Wade’s furniture collection, ABW, captures that nicely: ‘Tradition. Luxury. Remastered.’”

“I guess that’s what defines our work: comfortable, thoughtful, and relevant,” Oppliger added.

Now that they’ve put down roots in Asheville, Rowland and Oppliger are constantly in awe of those they cross paths with in the city and across the region. The openness and artistic buzz of folks here has become a magnet for creative and spiritual minds.

“On top of the ability to live very close to nature, we’re both energized by the creativity around us,” Oppliger said. “Strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere in town, and you immediately connect to passion. Ashevillians care and act on those feelings. From art to food to beer and now distilled liquors, to theatre to dance to music to design—Asheville truly excels in each. This town offers more than many areas that are 10 times and more our size. Go explore.”

“I’ve lived in a lot of great places—Seattle, San Francisco, Hawaii, Fort Lauderdale, Austin. I’ve never felt more in tune and in touch with a place as I do now,” Rowland added. “I have an overwhelmingly intense connection to this land, these mountains, and I love the culture and people of Asheville. I have found my tribe. We are a kind, intellectual, honest, cultured, and down-to-earth community. What could be better?”

This post is adapted from our annual Welcome to Western North Carolina magazine. Click here to read more online, or click here to order your own free copy.