Category: Architecture

Western Living Magazine: One to Watch, Architect & Fashion Designer Lara Presber

Calgary’s Lara Presber channels her architectural talents into fashion-forward womenswear.


Thirty years ago, when then-10-year-old Lara Presber was unhappy with the prepackaged outfits her dolls were sporting, she got to work creating a line of her very own. The resulting couture collection doesn’t bear much resemblance to the sleek, structured apparel she produces today, but, even back then, the Calgary native had an eye for design. “I liked building things,” she says, “whether they were from wood or fabric.” In fact, wood was her material of choice for a while—she chose architecture over fashion after graduating with her first degree (“It seemed more practical”), and worked steadily designing warm, welcoming retail and commercial interior spaces. A decade into her career, Presber craved a new challenge and so headed for Milan to study fashion.

Along the way, she found a way to combine both passions and, in 2005, she returned to Calgary to establish Studio Presber, a line of architecturally inspired womenswear. “For me, a good garment and a good building are all about structure,” says Presber. Her latest collection mixes dark greys with hints of patterned silk, elements inspired by the University of Calgary’s downtown campus. Her pieces are innovative, but her sales system is even more so: Presber’s website offers crowd-pricing (the more people who pre-order, the lower the cost) on limited-edition designs ranging from silk cowl-neck dresses to smartly cut chiffon tops.

The designer (along with other Calgary multitaskers like designer and artist Paul Stady) just launched Tallboy Studio, a multidisciplinary studio created to tackle urban projects of all scales. “It’s taken me all this time to collect my experiences,” laughs Presber. “But, looking back now, it all makes sense.” WL

Sixty7 Architecture Road: Firm Profile


Studio Presber Architecture + Design is a Calgary-based architecture and interior design firm that offers a selection of services that go beyond merely creating space.

This versatility comes from the fact that the principal, Lara Presber, is both an architect and a fashion designer. Such a duality of expertise helps give the firm an understanding of style and design right down to the smallest of details – from a concrete panel to a buttonhole, and everything in between.  The design of corporate attire gives clients the ability to have custom robes for their spa or uniforms for their restaurant staff, which can provide another element of a client’s identity that can seamlessly fit into the look of a project. Services related to fashion design are available along with Studio Presber’s other services such as strategic branding and positioning;  graphic design, signage and wayfinding;  space planning and lease assistance;  project management; and furniture, fixtures and equipment planning. These additional services present numerous ways in which clients can receive a holistic composition that blends right in with their brand.

One of the firm’s most well known projects to date is a specialty jewelry store in a high-profile downtown Calgary mall, which occupies a compact leasable space of only 80 square feet. The landlord removed two ATMs, recuperated the remaining space, putting the gross floor area barely 1% larger than the minimum required by code for more than 1 person at a time. The firm was tasked with consolidating the merchandising capability from the retailer’s previous 400 square foot location into the smaller space, while allowing the store to sell the same amount of product and with increased sales volumes. The solution was to create a usable storefront window that functions as a store during the day and continues to display merchandise after hours.


The firm is also very involved in local charities in the Calgary area, and were recently invited to design a mirror in support of a charity auction. They were inspired by the idea of adaptive reuse of a beautiful antique door salvaged from the Biscuit Block in the warehouse district of Calgary. The door, originally intended for another purpose, was enhanced with a new component to give it a new life as a mirror. Not only did this project provide an opportunity to bring awareness to and raise money for one of the firm’s favorite local charities, it also demonstrated how sustainable design can be simple and accessible to all.


Studio Presber views architecture as a platform that supports their diverse creative team to make space a unique experience for as many senses as possible. When clients choose to undertake a project with the firm, they have the comfort of knowing that the principal is directly involved in their project. This not only allows for a higher quality of service, but also design decisions that are considered from the perspective of another business owner for maximum return on design investment.