Art vs. Design

In my heart of hearts,  I am a frustrated artist;  and there would be nothing more soul-satisfying for me as a designer than to design an artist’s in-home studio, an atelier. So I proposed one for this year’s D.C. Design House. Unfortunately, the idea was rejected, but to all you frustrated artists, art-loving designers, and other art- possessed human beings  – this post is for you.

Before I started my “design house home atelier” project, I researched a few famous real ones to discover how they were done. This fabulous studio belonged to Jean-Loup-Doraux. It was sent to me in an email by decorative artist  Kami Tremblay, whom I have contracted in the past for some unique projects for my clients.

This wonderful studio belonged to Norman Rockwell. It is a masterpiece of organization,  just like his work. My atelier was to showcase the delightful, whimsical and colorful art of Susan Finsen. .This is Susan’s actual studio at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia.

For Susan’s “design house atelier”,  I selected this industrial console from Dovetail.  I think it’s a unique  vehicle for her to store her paints as well as  fabrics for collages and other art supplies. (available through designers). And her industrial work table, also from Dovetail. Imagine it splattered with paint. This 4′  x 2′ recycled wood light fixture is ample enough to light up her work table, and interesting enough to contribute to the atelier mood. and this beautiful easel from Plaza Art Supplies in Bethesda and Rockville would surely inspire her work.

Speaking of inspiration, Susan gave me this quote from artist Pat Steir that actually does inspire her: “Because I don’t plan my work I don’t know when it’s not going according to plan. For me, a bad day is when I’m too controlled…”

In my opinion the difference between art and design is also a paradoxical relationship between the two:  Artists are free to be chaotic whereas designers need a plan and control to make the design work.  Having said that, some of my favorite designs have that je ne sais quoi.  The design of an atelier represents ne plus ultra in “controlled chaos.”

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