Meet the Portland Painter, Kayla Carlson.
So much of what artists, makers and designers say can be misconstrued by the left-brained community as complete nonsense, but it would be difficult to look at Carlson's work and not see exactly what she means. It's clear that most of the action takes place once the paints find each other on her page. She selects them using her knowledge of what colors will play well together, but she has little control over where they will go once they meet.
I love this description Carlson as made of herself all the more because it speaks to the problem interior designers encounter in planning a room all on paper.
Now more than ever, there is a necessary push to digitize and streamline the process of interior design. Clients want to see a complete picture of where they're heading before they sign off. But the very real struggle is that the best rooms are born out of process. A room conceived entirely on paper will always be a bit lifeless. Imagine the colors of Carlson's vibrant patchworks, if they never actually touched one another. In the same vein, the magic of a great room only begins to takes place when all pieces start to vibrate against one another.
When I asked Carlson, an interior designer herself, what sort of spaces she envisioned her pieces occupying, she replied, "anywhere they'll have the opportunity to converse with the furniture and plants and pieces [...] around them. I'll come back to that ellipse in a moment, but first I need to address that we've just encountered another seemingly nonsensical designer quip. Furniture, art and plants don't talk. I can picture myself trying to sell this concept to a banker and him telling me to take a hike.
But furniture, art and plants do have a language. The legs of a great chair give away its place and time of origin. The brush strokes of a painting can convey violence, exuberance or peace, but very few convey all three at once. Leafs of a plant can be spiky and foreboding or lilting and nostalgic. Their aromas add another layer.
Now let me get back to that ellipse, because Carlson actually included people and pets in the list of occupants of the spaces where her art will be happy. While furniture, art, plants and pets do not literally speak to each other, they all speak potently to us. A skillful designer, like the director of a film, knows what to put together to get the blood pumping, how to configure a room to facilitate a great party and what will be pleasing in a place meant for rest. At minimum, a guest of any room will know if he or she is comfortable there or not. That's the contents of a room talking and comfort is a pretty non-theorhetical concept.
Carlson's work invites its viewers into her process. The best designer client relationships can be those that are process rather than strictly results driven too. Invite your clients into your process and they will begin to know your true worth. And of course, consider one of Kayla Carlson's original, beautiful acrylics for your next project. At roughly 36x36" they're a nice scale and will add a bit of interest to any room they occupy.
February 12, 2021