The trouble with the New Pop Mix as a design style is that it’s so very hard to pull off. Zany by nature, it operates at a distance from your status quo-decorating, with its bobble-headed nods of approval. To create a residence in this extroverted art-based vernacular is a thrilling challenge and a tough style to report on. Oh well, what’s a neck for if not to stick out.
So how is it done? Taking jazz as a metaphor, you set up a fascinating rhythm, add the melody, create dissonance and resolve it. Cut the lead musician loose for a virtuoso passage. Then track the spotlight so each player can go crazy for a bit and get applause. Lots of examples of the design equivalents below and at instagram.com/loismacaulay.
While disjointed efforts outweigh satisfying results as designers find their way into this style, I found New York designer Julie Hillman. She incorporates furniture artists like Wendell Castle, and in this case, Rick Owens’ daybed, into settings where art forms mix easily. Owens is a brilliant fashion designer new to the field. Wendell Castle was a pioneer and remains a strong contributor to art furniture. Here, Hillman has grouped unique pieces in a quieter than usual setting. Castle’s Shoot the Moon seat is from his web store. Farrow&Ball paint colours are broken, through the admix of many pigments, into soft depths.
Rachel Chudley expresses the style in lavender for Collect 2020 at Somerset House. Rachel neutralized the shade for the furry upholstery on hammered-gold-metal seating (key design features). Chairs and settees in the theme cluster about the space around various round tables. Ceilings are very high and furniture very low. That makes way for an enormous phantastical mauve chandelier in the space between. Love it or not, it works. Nature inspires Porta Romana’s giant chandelier and Gene Summers chairs.
Linking art pieces to art pieces is a skill sharpened on habitual study of arts and letters and at least one current personal enigma that holds a fascination. Naturally we’re reviewing a group of pieces characteristic to the style, but the rest is improvisation. Taking Julie Hillman to demonstrate, the strong art, soft upholstery and sculptural lighting are the right blend.
I have been waiting for this article to show you Jean-Luc Le Mounier’s amazing Papillon Cabinet. Its rigorously fine detail and soaring curves demonstrate furniture art’s poetic nature held in check. Bubble-tufted custom seating figures strongly in the new mix. These, the Alex Roskin bench and more outstanding collection pieces are found at Todd Merrill Studio, New York.
Laura Bohinc chairs are the lead singers in the gold-framed round seating category. Laura is great at composing variations on her theme. We are growing familiar with the line-up of light bright shiny counter stools favoured for this style, used here by Marina Vanteeva. No pieces can be boring.
The art is strong. Soggy little colour block abstract paintings won’t do. I’m featuring sweetly poisonous Ray Caesar who shows at Gallery House in Toronto. I love to incorporate a finely carved Louis XV chair in a surprise upholstery and Ray Caesar provides the perfect excuse with paintings like “Keeping Secrets” that appeared up top. Skip over to instagram.com/loismacaulay for more of his views from the other side of the looking glass.
Moss and Lam’s stone tables have the perfect shapes for just about any place in this style mix. Pierre Frey’s chair in their poodley fabric on a gold ring base rings all the notes, both at Primavera. Frey chairs balance strong walls in Maywish Syed’s room. Fortuny’s slightly mad chairs (below) and casually extravagant fabrics are at Theo Décor.
Coloured walls, rounded upholstery, circular gold bases, hammered gold frames, turned shapes, small tables, small carpets, loop, fur and velvet textures, outrageous lighting, shocking art, bi-colour schemes, and lots of surprises recap our trend.
Pore over galleries, play mix-it-up in the den for fun, call your designer for a daring redo… Or, you may hate the look, and that’s just fine. I’m counting on interior design’s love of free expression. We still have that liberty, don’t we!
Lois Macaulay, Allied ASID, 416-921-1043
A long standing member of the American Society of Interior Designers, Lois Macaulay holds a 1st place award for residential design 2018, 2nd place for 2017 and 2 presidential citations for contributions to the profession from ASID. “I love creating beautiful settings for extraordinary women--and men,” she says. The strong fashion/design connection in these posts owes its source to her first career as a fashion designer, coordinator and national fashion magazine editor.