Friday, May 4, 2012

A Well-Designed Space Needs to be Experiential

“I am passionate about art and design as an expression of creativity and also as a vehicle to ignite wonder and excitement.”

Connie Kirk has been a professional interior designer and artist for over 20 years and has extensive experience with the selection and curation of fine art for both gallery shows and individual collectors.  Connie is proficient in the research and development of early 20th century art for both private and business acquisitions. As a business owner of C Kirk Design in Marin County, she has developed and operated her own interior design firm for more than fifteen years. Connie has curated several Bay Area Art Shows over the years and is also a gallery-showing artist with many collectors nationally and abroad. 

 Constance Kirk
C Kirk Design
San Anselmo, California
415-454-5333 home/office
415-272-6022 mobile

European Farmhouse Elegance at its Best
Designer Connie Kirk explores colors, shapes & lines in her GRANGE San Francisco vignette 

As a designer and professional artist, my approach in creating and designing a great space and creating a successful painting is the same…totally experiential for the creator and the viewer.

When I walk into a room, I want and need to experience something new, something exciting and something inspirational.  I want to explore with my eyes like I am in the Musee’de Orsay in Paris, viewing a cherished masterpiece painted by Monet or Van Gogh. I want to learn more about the artist or designer and their visionary approach.  What message do they have for me?  What feeling did they want to create in me as the viewer?

Starting a design project is like the “birthing” of a painting…it begins with a feeling; an intuitive hunch and from the first brushstroke to the last, there is a need to explore the space from the inside out; to uncover the nuances, connectivity, synchronicity and meaning that calls out to be expressed.

Some of the questions that I ask myself when beginning to design a space are the same questions that I explore when starting a painting such as:

v What is the feeling that I want to evoke in this space?
v What experience do I wish others to have when spending time in this space?
v Do I have a blank canvas to begin my project or are there existing elements that may dictate how it will need to be designed?

When I began to design the vignette for the San Francisco GRANGE Showroom, I asked myself these same questions and began to look at the space with an artist’s eyes.  My first need was to view the space with its inherent elements to ascertain what I could work with and what needed to be changed.  The space is a small brick-walled corner area with white and black-accented marble flooring surrounded by tall windows facing a hallway.  I wanted to create a sense of comfort and warmth in this space so I proceeded to develop a design vision and theme that would reinforce my intent.

I chose to develop a European country farmhouse theme around GRANGE’s beautiful Peony Curved Sideboard from their 2012 Exceptions de GRANGE Collection that is painted in soft aquas, creams and delicate shades of pink.  Companion Ermitage dining table and New Directoire console pieces combined with their color-washed Camargue wicker chairs created an intimate European dining setting.

As the design theme developed, so did the artistic flavor in the space.  I was creating a message of warmth and invitation with the softness of the colors and textures that I used. I would also bring in some of my own figurative paintings to compliment the theme.

The rest of the designing became like performance art…an evolving creative expression; an exciting experience of putting together a palette of colors, textures, lighting, artwork and spatial values within the vignette.  The mood was set…European farmhouse elegance at its best!

In setting the space, I washed over the walls with a saturated blue-green paint, leaving the existing white brick wall to show through the paint like an old barn or farmhouse in the French countryside.  Adding a natural jute carpet under the dining table and chairs created a sense of warmth on the marble tile floor, visually creating a central base in the vignette.

The lighting over the dining area needed to be very special so an exquisitely be-jeweled Jamine chandelier graces the table for mood lighting and ambiance with its colored jewels magically enhancing all of the colors in the space.

The drapery, dining chair seat cushions, and tabletop fabrications were all created from a mélange of subtle striped silks and patterned tapestries in pale aquas, light golds and creams with a hint of jeweled edgings to juxtapose the jeweled chandelier.

The tabletop was designed with a beautiful handmade African basket filled with fruit as a simple centerpiece.  It was accented with beaded placemats, crème colored Vietri dinner plates and deep rose colored wine glasses ready to be filled with a delicious wine to start a great conversation and meal with loved ones and friends.

Although the chosen artwork was integral in the original design idea, the placement of art pieces is always the “frosting on the cake”; the last element of a great design project and so it was to be with this vignette.  I chose to display pieces of my figurative artwork that would convey a sense of familiarity and warmth, as in “Sidestreet” painted on a European street and “The Offering” a painting of three African women offering roses and water.  The “Roses and Pomegranate” painting softly relates to the painted GRANGE Peony chest and helps continue the theme. A small landscape and expressive figure paintings were also added in the space welcoming all who enter.

Ultimately, the success of any design project depends upon how accurately its planning has answered the functional and aesthetic needs within the space and how artistically the design conveys a message of imagination and innovation.  “…A design isn’t finished until somebody is using it…” Although this vignette is only designed for a showroom, it has all of the elements needed to create a cozy GRANGE Farmhouse experience in your own home!

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