Phillip T. Annand & Jessica Lehrman’s “Landa Conservatory” Art Project
The designer and photographer talk about nature, sustainability and the new Jordan Crater collection.
Photography: Phillip T. Annand & Jessica Lehrman
At the beginning of lockdown measures in the U.S., Phillip T. Annand and Jessica Lehrman found themselves at home, in Los Angeles, pondering what would come next. As independent creatives, they decided to start their first collaboration, Landa Conservatory, as a means to share serenity during these turbulent times.
Described as “The Quietest Place on the Internet,” Landa Conservatory exists on YouTube and Instagram, in the form of meditative films that combine nature vignettes and original music compositions. Through the combination of Jessica’s photographic eye and Phillip’s design expertise, Landa Conservatory has become a whimsical refuge for anyone seeking a break from today’s endless churn of information.
Phillip and Jessica are considered highly proficient at launching new, creative endeavors. Phillip has built and conceptualized numerous “universes” in both design and music, most notably the Madbury Club, a creative collective from Brooklyn. Jessica is a documentary photographer who focuses on underground culture and movements; she has executed high-profile assignments for the New York Times, Rolling Stone and others. Both grew up working with their hands, Phillip while building in suburban New Jersey and Jessica while capturing life on the road with her family. And though their values organically led them to a project like Landa Conservatory, they envision a future where their creative work will continue to intertwine with nature and environmentalism.
To celebrate the release of Jordan Brand’s Jordan Crater collection, in the form of footwear focused on sustainability and future-forward design practices, we spoke to Phillip and Jessica about Landa Conservatory, their collaborative practice and more.
How did you guys come up with the idea for Landa Conservatory?
Phillip T. Annand: We definitely found ourselves in quarantine, like the rest of the world, trying to figure out what to do with our hands and spare time. We feel very lucky to live in a unique slice of nature in L.A. and felt some responsibility to share this space with other people who were dealing with isolation.
There’s also this inundation of media, platforms and content that you can’t escape from, so the idea was to make something detached from that storm. Creating something quiet. Without an agenda. Starting Landa was honestly a calming exercise for us.
Jessica Lehrman: We’ve always kind of struggled with collaborating, because we’re both very alpha people who are used to doing our own thing. Being socially distant and quarantined has been an incredibly intense experience, but also an opportunity to explore collaboration in new ways. Landa was an organic response to the moment we found ourselves in.
How do you guys create each video? How did you land on this intersection of music, quotes, graphics and plants?
Jessica: We go outside, or hike nearby, and walk slowly looking for small, magic moments or compositions. We’re basically foraging for moments of meditation.
Phillip: I like to play ambient compositions while we film, so there’s some rhythm to the capture process, as well. Music has incredible healing power, so it was important to incorporate that from the beginning. We’re lucky to have talented musician friends, who were also at home looking for ways to spend their time. We’re always asking ourselves, how are these videos saying less? How are they requiring less of the viewer? Even with the quotes and the graphic presentation, they’re supposed to feel like they will always be there for you to return to and have a quiet moment with.
Jessica: Especially since they live on Instagram, if you follow the account, they’re like a reminder button to re-center.
What do each of you do throughout the process?
Phillip: Jess captures the footage and operates all the cameras. I float around the periphery and identify the different locations and little worlds we can focus on. Jess has an amazing visual eye for composing moments and shots. I execute the post production, graphics and editing.
You guys have previously talked about your individual and collective experiences — road-tripping with family, touring, moving cross-country and generally being on the move. What roles have nature, meditation and sustainability played in your lives?
Jessica: I grew up traveling a lot and moving from town to town around the country. At one point, my family and I were fully mobile and living in an RV. I spent so much of my childhood going to national parks and exploring nature. I was lucky to be raised with a deep respect for the outdoors and to think of nature as medicine. Landa Conservatory has been an opportunity to reinforce that teaching while discovering the magical properties of our local L.A. terrain in new ways.
Phillip: I grew up spending the majority of my time outside, camping and building things with my hands. I think this is as good a time as any to acknowledge the privileges we both have had, to not only grow up in those circumstances, but also to be sitting at home casually discussing sustainability through the context of sneakers and meditation videos. I can’t stress enough that all of our individual behaviors have to rapidly shift to save our planet. We were lucky enough to grow up in a time when that didn’t feel like a pressing reality, generally speaking, so I feel very grateful, but also responsible for finding ways to ensure that the next generation gets to share a similar experience.
Nike’s Move To Zero initiative and this Jordan Crater collection are all about sustainability and future-forward design. Knowing the term gets used to mean a lot of different things, how would you guys define sustainability?
Phillip: Right now, “sustainability” is used as a buzzword in both exciting and confusing ways. It’s comforting, on some level, that the conversation has permeated on many different levels, but there’s also a fuzziness. It means something different to each person you ask. I think we are living in unprecedented times; our planet is literally at the edge of disaster. We all have an individual responsibility to take a very long look at where we are, how we’re contributing in this moment, and how we can change behavior locally and quickly. Today, not tomorrow.
Jessica: Every day, we talk to each other about how we want to continue changing our lives to reflect the planet we would like to leave behind for our children and families. It’s an incredibly complicated conversation. I don’t have an answer for exactly what that will look like, but we’re focused on trying to live our lives in a more intensely local way.
How is your home a sanctuary for your creative endeavors, including Landa Conservatory?
Phillip: We are very lucky to be tucked away in a little green valley that exists almost as its own ecosystem. The property was a labor of love, handcrafted and carved out of a hillside by its original owner and builder in 1948. We definitely see ourselves as stewards of the land and the legacy he left behind. We want to continue growing our community here and sharing the space with our neighbors.
Jessica: We literally live on a hillside built from recycled materials — cast off tiles, wood and concrete covered in plants. The fact that someone spent their life making this place real is a daily reminder to use our time and creativity, in order to carry on making spaces and projects that give back to the environments we inhabit.
You guys have each had a lot of creative endeavors leading up to this. How is Landa Conservatory a natural part of your creative progression?
Jessica: My work has always revolved around timely circumstances. I shoot protests when they’re happening. I shoot rappers when they’re coming up. I tend to shoot things that are very in the moment and important. This is more of an idea born out of our own energy, as opposed to some external circumstances. It really reflects our mood.
Phillip: What makes any day exciting is the potential to execute a new idea. As we talk about these huge, grandiose ideas about sustainability, it helps put some of these ideas and projects in context — like where are we spending our time and effort? The projects we bring to life are the projects we want to see in the world. Landa Conservatory comes out of that spirit, for sure.
You said that this is one of your first collaborations. How would you describe the current state of your creative partnership?
Jessica: I love collaborating with Phil, because I feel like it’s a process that helps us understand each other more. It’s difficult, but it’s very rewarding. When I see our Landa videos, I’m like, “Damn, we did that together?” I feel very proud.
Phillip: We’re still standing, and that’s the best state we could be in! We collaborate every single day by simply existing together. Sometimes, it’s messy or complicated, but at the end of the day, we are simply trying to spend each day with forward movement — bringing ideas to life that reflect our values.
You both have incredible style, including when it comes to sneakers. What are your thoughts on the Jordan Crater collection?
Phillip: Having grown up as a sneakerhead, it’s an exciting and commendable step to see Jordan Brand taking this step into using recycled materials. It’s an important development for the most storied sneaker brand in the space. I’m a big sandal guy, given our California weather, so I’m all aboard. I also appreciate the subtle Nike Footscape design cues, as well with the asymmetrical side lacing, on the Crater.
Jessica: Phil and I take different approaches to our style, and I would say that I’m very practical. If something is comfortable, I almost don’t care what it looks like. I will wear it every single day. There are an endless amount of new shoes available in the world, and some contribute to the growing mass of trash we unnecessarily produce. I support that these are made out of recycled materials, and that they contribute to a better, more sustainable future. That’s enough to make me think they are incredible. I try to buy most of my clothes used, but if I’m going to purchase something new, I would hope that it helps move us towards a more progressive future.
The Jordan Crater and Crater Slide are available in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East throughout the Fall 2020 season, starting on July 24. They are available in North America starting September 11.