the first thing i read this morning inspired me to write, and now as i go back to edit i think i’ll just leave it stream of consciousness. happy reading!

this post on critic Robin Givhan discuses contemporary criticism in the fashion world, but is relevant to a range of disciplines. Givhan wrote an article on Karl Lagerfeld’s work with Chanel, and consequently fell out of favor with the fashion house. her thoughtful writing supports her integrity as a critic, but this honest criticism comes with industry backlash. ny mag pegs her as an endangered species in the blurry world of journalism and blogging, where the surge of fashion writers gush that they love!, covet!, and want everything!

“It’s got to be more than just ‘I loved it or I hated it,’ … You’ve got to explain your thinking — how you got there. Criticism is not personal opinion. At its best it’s opinion based on a set of facts that are set in context. I’ve seen shows that I’ve loved but I knew that critically they were not great. And vice versa.”

this quote sparked memory of experiencing critiques in both architecture studio and  printmaking (and other fine arts) studios. in architecture school, crits were almost always a panel of assorted critics, often focused as much on their attempts to out-do each as the quality student work, stringing connections to architectural precedent. the paradigm of the crit included strong personal opinions, (usually) grounded in context with objective parameters for hitting the mark. printmaking was always more subtle, perhaps this is why i gravitated towards the balance between the two disciplines. most of our pin ups were initially within the studio, and thus it became imperative to develop a vocabulary for constructive critique. not, “i like your use of color,” but instead, “your use of color is successful because it creates an atmosphere” or whatever. ok, that wasn’t necessarily the most convincing example, but you get the idea.

my printmaking instructor teresa cole continues to be a strong influence in my development as an artist interested in pattern and printmaking. she works with a range of media, and her painterly compositions with highly detailed imagery are inspiring, dancing around the page, paper, or panel. her work is subtle- in person, it is mesmerizing. here’s a link to her website, hoopskirt press, and here are a few selected images of her work and process:

i loved that studio space at tulane. as a student, i had no idea how rare our access to natural light and a large open facility was. i haven’t gotten into making my own print work in new york yet, but i’m getting antsy. i have been collecting ideas… i recently went to the printed matter inc store in chelsea. i first went there with a fellow printmaker and architecture grad from tulane when i was planning my move last summer, or maybe the summer before. this bookstore is a gem. their emerging artist program has produced one of my favorite new york finds, kim beck’s a field guide to weeds. this book imitates a 19th century pocket guide, with plant silhouettes which start as small weeds and eventually take over, page by page. the 5 color printing is amazing- a rich choice of colors, dense high-quality ink which saturates the page. every time i pick it i find more inspiration in the pattern developments. i am grateful that this book introduced me to her range of cross-disciplinary work- see her website.

speaking of chelsea- last weekend, i had brunch at tipsy parson. the wallpaper was bookshelves as in a library, with beautiful colors. i have been hunting for this wallpaper all week (to no avail- does anyone know who makes it?). i also loved the integration of those colors into other design items- the needlepoint-covered footstools in blues and greens, the window seats, the almost-mustardy gray of the lower walls- i can’t remember if it was wainscoting or chair rail. OH and the hand-painted floral wallpaper in the bathrooms… here are a few pictures from their website– i was too caught up with my date- and my bloody mary(s)- to take any of my own.

oh, and just for some sex appeal:

i wrote recently of florence broadhurst, whose patterns have recently been plastered on kate spade billboards all over soho. a renowned pattern maker of the same era but a different aesthetic is designer dorothy draper. her collaborations with carlton varney have produced, among other things, fabulous textile patterns. she pioneered the integration of bold baroque patterns with contemporary colors and pieces in a style she called “modern baroque.” her strong color combinations and eye for contrast lent to public spaces, such as hotel lobbies, elevated the comfort of high-quality interior design. (her work is the precedent for the look of contemporary bold coloration of traditional patterns now ubiquitous to crate and barrel, “shabby-chic” target, and ikea).

here’s a clip from their website’s section on color consultation: “The Draper pallet believes that the neutrals go way beyond beige, white, and grey. The Varney/Draper neutrals are soft aquamarine blue, sunny yellow and even pink. And you do know or may not; pink, chocolate, and caramel all go together.” the color combinations and hues are subtle but remarkable- i love the olive green leaves with the pastel blues and purples of the peonies in the princess grace kelly pattern.

the watercolor style of these patterns bring a familiarity to the old-school formality of their composition- they could live in your bathroom or as a panel in your apartment just as easily as they could grace the walls of a parlor in the carlyle (with some of dorothy’s most famous interior design work).

for more of these patterns, or to order wallpaper, visit carlton varney’s fabric and wallpaper site, by the yard. more of carlton’s textile design work can be found on their sister website, carlton v.: “The staple concept of the Carleton V Ltd. design studio is that color, scale, and texture are equal parts of the design spectrum. Our fabric line is constantly evolving in order to display the designs of yesterday in a synthesis with the design concepts of tomorrow.”

that print above is the bloomsbury. here’s an image of another textile, the bukara:

those colors and the setting are traditional, but one can easily imagine how this pattern could translate into a more contemporary setting. and, who can resist these charming pictures of carlton and dorothy at work:

well, that’s what you get for a pre-caffeinated post. more patterns and other pretty things to come.


One Response to “”

  1. 1 Meghan

    love the bookshelf wallpaper too!

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