Art meets design for a walk on the wild side

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• January 24, 2015

It's whimsical and exotic with a touch of eclectic.  

The collection contains vibrant and varied species of birds, butterflies, rabbits, tropical leaves and orchids all utilized in creating dynamic patterns in this art-meets-design collection.  In Lee Jofa's  first artist collaboration with Groundworks, they have introduced vibrantly colored and stunning fabrics, wallpapers, and carpets designed by Hunt Slonem, a world-renowned artist best known for his Neo-Expressionist paintings of exotic animals and tropical plant life.

And it's exciting because it puts some fun into interior design. It almost says, "yes I am gorgeous, but I don't take myself too seriously."

The result: Spectacular

Slonem's paintings are layered with thick brushstrokes of vivid color, and are often cut into in a cross-hatched pattern, adding texture to the overall surface of the painting. This technique has been replicated in the fabric collection through intricate jacquard weaving and digital printing techniques, resulting in a look that is graphically stunning.  For the Groundworks' collection, several of his most popular themes and iconic works have been translated into decor for the home.

Fritillery, the butterfly motif based upon specimens Slonem studied as a boy. Photo: Kravet/Lee Jofa.

As a celebrated painter, sculptor and printmaker with more than 350 exhibitions at prestigious galleries and museums internationally,  Slonem has traveled all over the world but it was his childhood spent in Hawaii, and a year studying in Nicaragua, that have had the most profound impact on his life’s work. The vivid color combinations and exotic wildlife he encountered there inspire him to this day.

The motifs he explored in his early works, tropical birds, butterflies, bunnies and portraits, have been reduced to their essence and have become recurring themes in his extraordinary art. His spiritual connection to the concept of metamorphosis led him to include the butterfly as one of the recurring themes in his work.

And there are those iconic bunnies.

Fascination with the rabbit occurred when he realized was born in the year of the rabbit, according to the Chinese calendar. In his New York City studio,  the bunny wall consists of   salon-style groupings of his small bunny paintings, some hung while wet. These signature paintings are now collector's items.  And Bunny Wall is a wallpaper that mimics the effect of the framed paintings against different colored backgrounds.

Slonem's spiritual connection to his recurring themes elevates the simple paintings to something more significant. To Slonem, repetition is divinity. Just like the act of repeating a phrase creates a mantra, the object is elevated and the act of repeating these forms becomes an act of worship. The process of painting is sacred to Slonem, and as a result, his body of work represents so much more than what's painted on the canvas.

And just how do we incorporate some of this exotic whimsy into our southwest homes? My suggestions:

A seamless series of bunnies, unframed and multiplied, on solid and metallic backgrounds. The repetition represents luck, abundance and the gentle traits represented by the rabbit. Photo: Kravet/Lee Jofa.

A seamless series of bunnies, unframed and multiplied, on solid and metallic backgrounds. The repetition represents luck, abundance and the gentle traits represented by the rabbit. Photo: Kravet/Lee Jofa.

•    The beautiful fabric is an elegant touch for upholstery and draperies.  My favorite is to take a chair or sofa piece that has become dated or an antique and reupholster  to give it a totally new look.  And the fabric makes beautiful window panels.

•    Who can resist the Bunny Wall as an accent wall covering in an office or dining room and for the entire powder room?

•    Pillows for accents add a bright, eclectic  touch to a solid color, traditional sofa.

•    The bunny wall coverings, Hutch, are available in pink or yellow and would be a great touch for a nursery.

•    Want just a touch of these fabulous creations in your home?  Stretch a piece of the fabric on canvas for a wall or frame a section of one of the wallpapers.

To see the entire collection, visit the Kravet/Lee Jofa showroom at the Miromar Design Center in Estero or visit www.leejofa.com/groundworks_wallcoverings.htm.

Hunt Slonem will sign his new book, When Art Meets Design from 4-6:30 p.m., January 26 at Harmon-Meek in Naples. Details: 239-262-2699.

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog

Collecting is one thing, hoarding another

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• July 5, 2014

“Your house is a place to keep your stuff while you go out and buy more stuff.”

-George Carlin

We are all collectors of some sort. And we love our "stuff."

I collect English, Victorian period, magnifying glasses that are displayed on an 18th century pine table.  And ceramic houses that are displayed in an old post office desk...because everyone knows that I am obsessed with houses!

But where is the fine line? The one that crosses from collections to hoarding?

We have all seen the shows on television. These are sad, extreme stories about people who cannot part with anything. It is painful for them and difficult for us to watch.

A collector typically exhibits pride of ownership and puts thought and money into how to display their treasures. A hoarder doesn't care to display anything. Their piles of possessions may give them comfort but not happiness.

Idea: Display your collections on a pretty tray like this one from from Pottery Barn.

Idea: Display your collections on a pretty tray like this one from from Pottery Barn.

Idea: Display your collections on a pretty tray like this one from from Pottery Barn.Honestly, we all hoard something. All of those "bargains" that we hope to use someday. Old partly used paint cans. Free samples. Pretty cosmetic bags filled with "free" bonus giveaways. Too many books. Clothes that we will never wear but hope is still there. Piles of photos that we hope to "someday" file or put in albums. These are inconvenient but they aren't unhealthy. 

A serious hoarder finds it impossible to part with anything. When faced with discarding something,  they feel tremendous stress. And a sure sign of a hoarder is one who has such huge piles of clutter that it make it difficult to navigate through a room or to find a seat that is not filled with "things."

I have a client who has traveled the world and has something to show from every country. Her museum quality pieces are beautiful. But there is not a clear surface in her home to put  a vase of flowers or a bowl of fruit. Not quite a hoarder (she calls it creative clutter), she cannot part with any of her possessions. Emotional attachments.

Thankfully,  few of us are hoarders.  But we all have too much and most of us struggle to keep it  organized.  Things that we hold onto. And too  much of this can create a feeling of stress and confusion in our homes.  And in our lives.

"We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us."

 - Winston Churchill

The following tips are designed to help you come to terms with clutter and collections that may no longer serve you. For a happier home, say goodbye to these:

•    Things that are broken. Appliances, old computers. Let's be honest. You are unlikely to fix them.

•    Anything that makes you feel guilty. Like that baking, blending, pasta-making contraption that you thought would change your life. Or clothes in your closet that you will never (be able) to wear again. Or organization systems that you have never used. Say goodbye and make them go away.

•    Furniture or accessories that bring up bad memories. Aunt Sadie's antique lamp that you disliked as a child and now it is yours.  It may be someone's happy memory but it's not yours.

•     Items that no longer fit into your life. Old exercise equipment. Large pieces of furniture that worked in your larger home but not since you downsized.  Make them go away and open up some space.

•    Collections that have taken over your home. Put a few of your treasures on a pretty tray or shelf and don't let them become clutter.

Don't let great memories become clutter. Display them on a wall with this wire mesh shelf from Pottery Barn.   

Don't let great memories become clutter. Display them on a wall with this wire mesh shelf from Pottery Barn.   

• Old decor. At one time you may have loved your artwork or your antiques. But times change and you may be ready for something different.  Find a consignment store and try a fresh, new look. Don't be afraid. And don't hang on to pieces that you don't love.

•    Multiples of anything. How many sets of dishes, cookware, storage containers, potato mashers do you really need?

•    Anything poisonous or dangerous. Old cans of cleaning solutions, spray bottles...especially if you don't remember what they are. Toss and don't look back.

•    Items that you are saving because maybe "someday" you will use them.  Shopping bags, gift boxes, wrapping paper, ribbons, gifts that you can't use.  It will never happen. And if it does, you can buy somethingnew.  Don't let your home become a storage unit for "maybe somedays."

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Her practical and affordable interior decorating helps clients transform a house into a beautiful home.  Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog