Art as Inspiration

Often my clients are collectors of fine art and want to use a particular collection or piece for the inspiration of a new room.  I find that when a client is interested in particular artists who flourished in certain movements of art, it is a dead giveaway of how the interior design should unfold. There have been multiple clients I have had the pleasure of working for who understand and have the means to collect fine art. Enter my latest client who recently acquired a notable oil painting by Gordon Onslow Ford.  Mr. Ford was known as a Parisian Surrealist painter, who also studied and mixed with fellow painters and patrons the likes of: Pierre Mabille,  André Breton, Yves Tanguy,  Esteban FrancesWolfgang PaalenMax ErnstVictor Braune, and Gertrude Stein.  It is Mr. Ford who is known for a youthful and spiritual approach to surrealism, which is unlike any other notable surrealist painter of his time. His career embodies over eight decades of prolific painting.

Time Mountain, 1933

Time Mountain, 1933

The Circle, Line, and Dot are the dictated rhythmic attributes often "seen" and used as his window into self-discovery, which also sets him apart from other Surrealists.  He is known for painting the subconscious or "fourth dimension" and often referenced Freud.  He also studied the theory of Space-time Continuum with his buddy Roberto Matta.  Are you still with me?

 

As a designer it is my job to understand my clients connection to art, know the period, and design an environment around it.  How does one do this you ask?  Ahh, the great question emerges!

Here is this client's case study:  He has lived in Mexico, and England, but is originally from the western United States.  Recently retired to San Francisco with his art collection and furnishings from six previous households, he needed a local designer that could meet with him frequently, and juggle multiple homes and collections.  As a designer, I knew I was in for a Tetris type of design process.  Thankfully he is a delight to work with, and has a charm factor of 10+.  So my occasional knitted brow would emerge as he pulled another cherished item out of a closet for me to "work with," was hopefully never observed. 

 The design challenge here was to EDIT.  The dreaded word heard by any collector. And, of course, I had to make a few additions to his collection to create cohesiveness and allow for adequate space and ergonomics for this particular home.

Mid-century danish modern roll top desk

Mid-century danish modern roll top desk

Steelcase sofa upholstered in heathered wool

Steelcase sofa upholstered in heathered wool

Occasionally he would admittedly "go rogue" and purchase items while traveling or while on a Sunday stroll. This little number to the right was acquired at Nancy Boy in Hayes Valley.    Mid century modern is his current penchant of taste, which happened to mix beautifully with his Ford art collection...Phew.   A local store on Valencia Street named Monument had something else that fit the bill.  A Steelcase sofa, which had been perfectly restored, related well to the Circle, Line, Dot attributes that Mr. Ford had so harmoniously established pre 1950.  It has also been noted that Motherwell, Joan Miro, Roberto Matta, and Kay Sage attended Mr. Ford's lectures on Surrealism at the New School, and were influenced by him.  Surely our mid century furniture designers were influenced by such talent.....No?  Let me buttonhole this idea for you readers.  The American Mid-century furniture and product designers as well as Danish designers were influenced not only from International and Bauhaus, but led with more organic shapes and looked towards nature as an enhancement to the "modern" design movement.  This is the most perfect expression of a design movement because it honors both ends of the esthetic world.

Yes, that nugget of information was the thread/key to the quilt-like situation that I designers found myself elbow deep in. Often there are various items, from different places in time, that have different meaning to the client, and we designers have to piece them all together and make it look appealing and livable. 

The ultimate approach to design is to move from the macro to the micro.  If one does not understand the bigger picture, then there will be a continuous struggle when putting a space together. And you won't understand the significance of the items you are working with.  Often when meeting with a prospective client and deciding if the project will be a good fit for my company, I have to identify the clients motivation to hire a professional interior designer.  Clients who just want a new space that looks "fancy" to them is not a client that I typically work with.  

Like with all great clients, this design relationship carries on.  I am delighted to see my client savor every morsel of the design process, which slows the torrent of my often "tornado style" design approach in which I normally relish.  My occasional lack of patience, which I was born with, is one of my veils to the vetted fourth dimension which Mr. Ford so elegantly and studiously paints.  How interesting when worlds collide.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading this and picked up a thing or two.  I will keep you posted with developments and post images of the finished interior once we get there.