by Lesley Harris Colvett
Photos courtesy of ArtsMemphis; Photography by Sarah Rossi
Art by Design, presented by ArtsMemphis, was held April 5-8, 2018, and showcased the talents of many of Memphis’ premier interior designers. 4Memphis chatted with participating designers Cindy McCord, Warner Moore, Lisa Mallory and Anthony Shaw about their vision, inspiration, and style featured in their unique vignettes.
Art + Vintage & Contemporary Pieces = Elegant Drama
I was thrilled to be asked to do a vignette supporting Art by Design. When imagining what I envisioned for the space, I wanted to step outside of the traditional Memphis aesthetic and show how one can mix contemporary with vintage and antiquity. I wanted a room that was visually pleasing but also liveable and realistic. I started with the main focal wall by applying an antiqued foil paper to give the room balance with the other walls that were done in a neutral palette. From there, we added a Goyard inspired, patterned hide rug that kept with the neutrals but gave the floor some movement. A cleanlined traditional sofa was brought into the mix but the color punched in a chartreuse, which was toned down with an array of darker custom pillows. The wall opposite the sofa was anchored by a vintage traditional ebonied Japanned secretary. Surrounding that was floor to ceiling Art Deco inspired brass and Lucite mirrors, which gave that wall a sense of structure and reflective quality. We added texture and patterns through draperies and other furniture throughout. From there, we picked objects and artwork that I have purchased through my travels, which gives the room a sense of who one is. The last piece we installed went above the sofa and was a 10’ long sculptural piece of Pop Art of a leaping neon tiger. Art by Design was a great venue for designers to express their talents and individuality.
Small Media Room with Big Impact
Cindy McCord and Brad Parsley, Co-Owner, Audio Video Artistry, collaborated to make the vignette into a small media room with big impact. “Often, homeowners turn spare bedrooms into entertainment rooms. The dimensions of our vignette at Art by Design was typical of that space. We set forth some lofty requirements for our little system. Sonically and visually we wanted it to compromise nothing. It would include the latest Dolby Atmos surround technology and we wanted ‘A list’ components to be used, and it should be ridiculously easy to use,” says Brad. “Even though the room is dedicated for a media room, we still wanted to make aesthetics a priority. And we wanted to do it under $10k so most people could actually afford it.”
The 75” size TV was chosen for its proportion with the console Cindy chose. “We gave the Samsung LED some extra pop on the wall by adding colored lighting behind it; an inexpensive touch that added major cool factor. We also modified the console to hide the audio/video equipment behind false drawer fronts. Even though the equipment was hidden from view, a Crestron handheld remote easily operated the system via radio frequency. As an extra touch, we added the room’s lighting to the remote as well,” says Brad.
The Integra Dolby Atmos receiver drove seven Sonance speakers and an SVS subwoofer. In-wall or floorstanding speakers would’ve clashed with the wall sconces and custom ottomans Cindy chose. Instead we used a Sonance soundbar for the left, center, and right channel. The soundbar adjusts in width to perfectly match the width of any TV. It’s a small thing but it keeps the look clean and symmetrical.
Brad says the gray palette Cindy chose works well for media rooms, and ideally, a media room should have nothing to distract from the viewer’s focus on the TV, but that can make for a boring room. Large decorative panels were added to the side walls to give the room a signature design element but the panels also serve the essential role of sound baffles. Controlling sound waves is a huge advantage of a dedicated room and panels like these could be configured in countless ways to achieve an acoustically and aesthetically pleasing toom.
“Having installed hundreds of these systems over the years, I thought Cindy’s use of carpet squares was awesome. Things will be spilled in a media room and it’s easy to just replace a square when needed. Plus, the design options seem perfect for this use,” says Brad.
Art Takes Center Stage in this Dreamy Bedroom
When I was asked to do a vignette for ArtsMemphis I wanted to do something unforgettable. Something that no one had done before. My first thought was to use the portrait of my sons done 20 years age by Mary Sims. It's my most prized possession. If my house were on fire the painting would be out the door right after Bertie-Wooster, my wire-haired fox terrier.
After my staff and I discussed the room at work, the decision was unanimous that we would do the room around the painting. Having a linen shop, a furniture shop, and a design studio we chose to do a bedroom incorporating a seating area. This would enable us to do beautiful bedding and furniture sold in the shop. My long time friend David Lusk had commissioned the portrait for me, so it was only natural that he would help with all of the artwork in the vignette. We selected three Ted Faiers and a Robert Yasuda from the artists he represents at his gallery. We chose colors and design that would complement the Mary Sims, whose estate David still represents. Of course the artwork was the most important design element.
In 1997 Mary came to our house to prepare for the portrait and selected everything that the portrait would be. The clothes, shoes, and accessories all belonged to our family. One year later, the portrait appeared and we loved the composition and especially the outfits she had chosen for each of us! I still had these at the house and decided to use the dress, Michael Jordan tennis shoes, and baseball bat in the vignette! This made it more personal and took us all back 20 years.
The first thing I chose to go with the portrait was the sofa and chair fabric. I wanted to bring out the blues and greens in the portrait. The pillows on the sofa pulled all the colors together. The neutral bedding was a background for contemporary, colorful, decorative velvet pillows that helped make the room unforgettable and gave it an updated, young look. The bed was a large, iron bed with a tall canopy that lent an over the-top presence without detracting from the portrait and artwork.
I wanted the room to be transitional, not traditional or contemporary. The bench with the lucite legs, gold coffee table, lamps and accessories achieved that goal. The last thing chosen was the wall color, and I decided that on the day we started to install. When I saw the size of the vignette I decided to use a rich, dark Mediterranean blue that was perfect for the colors in the portrait and pulled the room together.
Ultimately, I was very pleased with the outcome. I did not tell the boys I was using their portrait for the Art by Design vignette. I knew they would have been embarrassed. The opening night of the vignette, I think they must have gotten 20 pictures, calls and snap chats from their friends, so it all turned out ok!
The Anatomy of a Room
When contemplating turning a 12x16 foot space into a livable room I had to decide what room in a house I would create. I chose the living room because of all rooms in the house it tells the story and shows the personality of the family.
Next, I had to choose the “family” and decide what their history and lifestyle might be. I decided on a formal room reflecting a life time of collecting lovely things from around the
world, concentrating on Europe and the Orient. In fleshing this out I started from the floor up, literally! An Aubusson rug was my choice. A paint color was chosen based on the rug. The deep salmon/rose creates a warm and inviting background for the furnishings. I’m off and running!
I decided to make the space a traditional room with some contemporary pieces to bring it into the 21st century. After deciding on the “look” of my room, I started to fabricate it. My
first thought was that it needed a focal point. A fire place came to mind. Once again, creating an atmosphere of intimacy.
Now begins the layering of furniture objects that tell the story of years of collecting and inheriting. This is a sophisticated, well-traveled couple whose things have personal significance. Every piece has its own story. It was great fun creating this family and their style.
The furniture arrangement is conducive to lively conversation yet intimate enough for a couple to sit quietly by the fire. I especially love that there is no television in this room! The furniture is decidedly European, French chairs and commode, English consoles. The contemporary glass “wave” coffee table is a nod to Paris in the 1940s. The furniture is an interesting combination of pieces made of wood, glass and metal.
The last layer is the accessories. Aside from the ancestral painting, I have chosen art from our wealth of local and regional artists. We are fortunate to have so many. The nudes over the commode are the work of Rosalee Cohn. The painting to the right is by Anton Weiss. The beautiful wall sculpture made of wire and handmade and painted paper is a creation of Colleen Couch Smith. The assortment of bronze, marble, coral and porcelain objects are reminiscent of a love of traveling.
Here we have a room that reflects years of acquisitions. A quiet tapestry of generations.
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