The Superior Interiors Coming Out Of Litchfield County
Ashley Woodson Bailey. Photo by Rustic White.
By Jacque Lynn Schiller
Litchfield County is known for its pastoral scenery and a trio of design companies located in the hills are creating specialty goods as magnificent as their surroundings. From incredibly detailed wallpaper to colorful tiles, stunning porcelain dinnerware and OOAK furniture, the impressive lines from all of these artisans are drawing attention (and customers) from well outside our region. Fortunately, we need only travel a few miles to meet:
Established in Brooklyn in 2001 by husband and wife team Robertson and Kyra Hartnett, twenty2 offers a line of signature wallpaper patterns, eco-friendly grasscloth, and custom wallpaper digital printing services. Through their design work specializing in branding retail and residential interiors, they became passionate about the home decor market and wanted to create a line of products using their unique, modern graphic sensibility. They forecasted, Kyra says, that “the minimalism of the 90’s would be replaced by a return to a more lush, layered look and, as part of this trend, that wallpaper would re-emerge as a way to personalize interiors.” This vision turned out to be true.
Kyra and Robertson Hartnett.
The duo collaborates with emerging and established artists and designers to help bring their patterns and artwork to life as wallpaper collections or custom murals. One of their most rewarding projects was helping floral photographer Ashley Woodson Bailey translate her original photographs into repeat patterns for her first wallpaper collection.
I was also surprised to find that twenty2 also offers 3D wallpaper [photo, below]. In fact, they are the only studio making such a product. “Our 3D wallpaper was a collaboration with Pratt Institute,” says Kyra. “The concept was created by architect/professor Sarah Strauss and relies on Anaglyph 3D technology, which is the old-school blue and red lens glasses, unlike the movie technology. The wallpapers are meant to be lovely without the glasses, but the glasses allow the viewer to perceive an incredible added dimension.”
They will soon be featuring a fun new wallpaper collaboration with Patch Design Studio, interpreting her original block prints as a collection of wallpaper. “Wallpaper that people want to live with, wake up to, that helps articulate their unique personality, that they can layer and make their own” is offered through the company’s website. Custom work is welcome.
Dana Brandwein and Daniel Oates. Photo by William and Susan Brinson.
If you happened to visit New Preston lately and noticed the “perfectly imperfect handcrafted tableware” on display at Privet Lives, you were admiring the work of husband and wife creative partners Dana Brandwein and Daniel Oates of dbO Home. Their residency at the popup has been extended until March 5, but don’t despair — their wares are always available online and sold locally at Privet House, Finch in Hudson and Classic Country in East Chatham as well as to other tastemaker stores such as ABC Home & Carpet and Bergdorf Goodman.
The two come from very different, very interesting backgrounds but now make incredible product lines together. Dana was a record label executive for nearly two decades, working with artists including AC/DC, Metallica and Bjork and Daniel handcrafted sculptures that are now housed in collections and museums around the world including The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Walker Art Center. After leaving Elektra, Dana began selling some of her small batch ceramics before launching dbO Home in 2007. She and Daniel began collaborating on porcelain and wood lighting, and then he fully joined the company with his one-of-a-kind wood furniture.
Matriarch Collection table lamps, Kashmir Tableware (photo by William and Susan Brinson) and Claro walnut chaise (photo by John Gruen).
dbO Home have also worked with many celebrated chefs, such as Dan Barber and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, to develop handcrafted elements for their restaurants. The studio also joined forces with extraordinary textile designer (and Litchfield County resident) John Robshaw on a line of wonderfully patterned porcelain dinnerware. “It’s a great deal of fun to put two different but complimentary aesthetics together to create something unique,” Brandwein says.
This past holiday season, the studio worked with Malfatti Glassware on a limited edition cloche, and they design more affordable, beautiful objects exclusively manufactured and sold by West Elm, most currently a line of table lamps. “We want to create the everyday luxuries that make a home comfortable and unique,” says Brandwein. Accomplished.
Don’t let the name fool you. Much more than tiles, striking as they may be, is being handmade in the sunny studio and showroom of ceramic artists Darin Ronning and Travis Messinger. At any given time, there may be distinctive vases or mugs, platters, even checkerboards firing away in the massive kilns. The range of texture and palettes on display is incredible.
“Our main focus is on color,” says Messinger. “We glaze our tiles and our dishes with multiple layers which gives them a much deeper and warmer color.” Previously having run the ceramics and tableware shop Pepper Jones in NYC, the two decided to focus on creating their own line once they moved to Litchfield County.
While the main product line is handmade ceramic tiles, they also make an eye-catching line of tableware, including bowls, platters, plates and coasters. The shop also is known for animal tiles designed and hand-carved by local artist Karen Hiebert. I was amused to spot a couple of cow and sheep pieces during a recent visit to Talbott and Arding Cheese and Provisions in Hudson. Their work gets around.
“Our most recent collaboration is with the artist Ester Partegas on a public fountain for the Percent for Art program in New York City,” Messinger says. “It was based on four different Native American textile patterns. We recreated Ester’s design in four mosaic tile panels made up of over 20,000 1/4 inch tiles.”
Travis Messinger and Darin Ronning.
Besides working on tiles for a new restaurant opening in New York with an open kitchen, the two are also making pieces for several bathrooms, fireplaces and backsplashes. It’s a lot of work but “a customer comes in with a vision and we get to make it happen,” says Messinger. “Knowing that it’s something unique that’s going to be in their home, probably for a long time, it’s a great feeling when we see the end result.”