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Prescription: Design Therapy

Apartment Therapy Design Evenings at ABC Carpet are a bright spot in the design scene here – the incandescent lighting flowing through the oversized glasses of wine, the luxurious mishmash of couches and chairs, and a packed room of enthusiastic design and decor citizens smiling in their camaraderie.

It couldn’t be more fun, more lively. But as I looked around, I wondered, what exactly is this scene?

Coming from Europe where there’s a massive design presence to here where there are so many lovers of beauty and talented creative minds of every ilk, I’ve starting to see a distinction between Europe and Asia’s definition of design – the beautiful and functional and functionally beautiful object  - and what design is in the U.S.

First, just to get it out of the way, yes there is the design awareness made possible by Steve Jobs and Apple Computers. There’s Fast Company’s championing of design thinking and design in business. But for the lovers of design festivals and design schools, furniture design, and manufacturing, the individual maker and craftsman, there is a big empty silence filled only by ICFF and it’s satellite shows.

New York is largely about Decor and Shelter. It’s Design Sponge and Etsy. Pinterest mood boards and Decor 8. It’s decorating tips and DIY. It’s interior design and real estate lust.

I love decor. I do. I mean where else are you going to put your design but within some sort of decor? Decor can be very practical and personal at the same time. Hey, even I found myself doing a DIY project for the first time and I’m pretty proud of it.

See? Here it is.

From this

To This

I found an old ugly beat up nightstand on the street and went out and bought some white high gloss paint, a bottle of Mod Podge, some paper from Paper Presentation and found endless how-to sites to make sure I didn’t screw the whole thing up.

Pretty cool, right?

But I’m not a designer. I would never call myself that. So there you go. You’ve got design and you have decor. America is about decor.

I really enjoyed what Maxwell, the founder of Apartment Therapy had to say when I asked about the state of American design (which meant where the hell is American design?) because it was clear that he cares about design as much as I do. He told me that it’s hard to nurture design here because manufacturing has left America. I told him about my experience in Europe and he said “yeah, Europe’s ahead of us.” So in our haste to automate and simplify everything, to sell everything and consume everything, to consolidate everything and to watch the bottom line on everything, we forgot about design. Not good. And honestly, not very modern. I think all of this DIY activity is just another sign of how desperately we need design leadership. It’s not just about dressing things up but making things that are truly beautiful, thoughtful and reflective. Right now, the design landscape is practical and commercial, not gutsy. It doesn’t marry inventiveness and innovation with reality. Design can be the perfect summation of right and left brain and, at the risk of sounding lofty, hope for the future. It’s a visual manifestation of spirit, intelligence, and hope. In other words, design is more than a gorgeous bedspread with eclectic throw pillows.

The last Apartment Therapy talk I attended was a few weeks back. It was with the very popular and very personable Deborah Needleman, the founding editor of Domino magazine who has gone on to start a beautiful style magazine at the Wall Street Journal. I was a subscriber of Domino. In fact, it was the very last magazine I subscribed to before moving to Paris at the end of 2006. Domino was so pretty and useful and collectible where nothing else really was. I was tired of the stuffy celebraphotog-generated nonsense, the Vogues and Visionnaires. I was tired of being talked down to and dictated to. Domino was different. It wasn’t ‘design’ but it was great. She herself admitted that while she loves the practical application of decor – she’s coming out with a book about making your home ‘cozy’ – she ‘doesn’t know anything about design’. It’s hard to wrap my head around but I think ultimately I know what she means. I just hope the dialogue will open up and decor-lovers will also start to see just what design is and how much value it has.

Just imagine, a New York with a design scene as robust as London.. Heaven!

(It looks like our company Show Love may be doing some yet-to-be-announced work with the American Design Club led by the effervescent designer and design advocate Kiel Mead so more excitement to come!)

-Chauncey Zalkin

links:

Apartment Therapy
Decor 8
Etsy
Design Sponge
Pinterest

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Artist: LYNN JACKSON

Working in her studio at the Artscape Wychwood Barns, Toronto artist Lynn Jackson calls on old photographs, her mother’s recollections and her own childhood memories to provide much of the inspiration for her prize-winning sculptures. 

Using textile techniques taught to her by her mother many years ago, and with her experience of goldsmithing and costume design, Lynn knits metal wire which, for some works, she combines with felted and dyed wool to meticulously recreate the birthday dresses, nightgowns, bonnets and booties she wore as a little girl. 

From recreating her childhood clothing it was a natural progression to the toys she played with and further, the intricately detailed sculptures of Tabitha Twitchit, Peter Rabbit, the Mopsey Bunnies, Raggedy Anne and other friends from her childhood. The work is nostalgically evocative but its appearance of fragility is deceptive. Rendered in wire, it speaks to the bonafide strength of the artist herself.

Meanwhile, her technique has won her awards at the Sculptors’ Society of Canada and at the Toronto Outdoor Art Show, while winning critics’ acclaim at exhibitions across Canada. 

Born in Canada of English parents, Lynn spent her formative years in both Liverpool and St. Catherines. She studied Costume Design at Niagara College Shaw Festival Theatre School and spent three years in the Jewellery Arts Program at George Brown College in Toronto, where she studied gemology and diamond grading.

Based in Toronto, Lynn Jackson’s work explores themes of emotional and physical displacement. She knits with metal, a process that is informed by her years as a student of goldsmithing and costume design. She has sold her work across North America and has won awards from both the Toronto Outdoor Art Show and The Sculpture Society of Canada.

MORE FROM LYNN

Two Bunnies & a Bear

Two Bunnies & a Bear

designed by: Lynn Jackson

Material: oxidized  copper wire
Description of item: Childhood toy sculptures hand knit with copper wire. These 'toys' are suspended from the ceiling or framed in a shadow box. These 'toys' may be displayed alone or in a group.

For Inquiries, contact us.

Dainty Dress

Dainty Dress

designed by: Lynn Jackson

Material: oxidized  copper wire
Description of item: New born baby dress sculpture hand knit with copper wire and adorned with tiny flowers. This dress may be suspended from the ceiling or framed in a shadow box. This piece works well  displayed alone or in a group.

For Inquiries, contact us.

Dainty Bonnet

Dainty Bonnet

designed by: Lynn Jackson

Material: oxidized  copper wire
Description of item: New born baby bonnet sculpture hand knit with copper wire and adorned with tiny flowers. This bonnet may be suspended from the ceiling or framed in a shadow box. This piece works well displayed alone or in a group.

For Inquiries, contact us.

Dainty Knickers

Dainty Knickers

designed by: Lynn Jackson

Material: oxidized  copper wire
Description of item: New born underpants sculpture hand knit with copper wire and adorned with tiny flowers. These knickers may be suspended from the ceiling or framed in a shadow box. This piece works well displayed alone or in a group.

For Inquiries, contact us

THE INTERVIEW

wwm: How do you imagine your work displayed in the home?
LJ: Suspended from the ceiling or framed in a shadow box.

wwm: What are some of your favorite things displayed in your own home?
LJ: Ancestral photos of family; an 18th century metal medicine cabinet from France; a wicker and steel baby carriage, circa 1910; 1970′s Sesame Street books.

wwm: Walk us through the steps you take in creating a new collection.
LJ: My creative process is broken down into steps.
1) Concept
2) Research : I use the internet and photo archives
3) Image/visual development : I illustrate with pencils, black pens and sometimes use water colour to establish visual designs. I do some drawings in a workbook as well as larger drawings that are turned into patterns.
4) Pattern making: I develop the patterns from the drawings. To do this I use paper or fabric with traditional pattern making techniques -old school cutting and draping. I keep an archive that includes the pattern with measurements and instructions, then a photo of the finished piece.
5) Creating the piece: I knit, crochet, stitch and sew the pieces with very fine copper wire and copper plate. I sometimes use felt. (wool)

wwm:What do you imagine a person who buys your work to be like?
LJ:Someone who thinks of art beyond oil on canvas.

wwm:Do you have a favorite artist or writer? A designer who works in a different material? Who are they?
LJ:Tracey Emin, Vivienne Westwood and A.Y. Jackson.

 

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