In More Depth
A backdrop? An ornament? A working foil?
THE CLAMOR OF ORNAMENT It is an ongoing debate. Is colour an ornament or a foil? Katie Fontana, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Plain English explains her point of view, “I have always felt that our designs provide the backdrop. When we started the company, my goal was that the cupboards should lie back and not be centre stage. I couldn’t understand the ethos of all the other kitchen designs on the market then. They were fussy and overly decorative and seemed to say ‘look at me!’ We wanted to be understated, functional, beautiful, providing a working backdrop to the character and style of the owner via the introduction of their choice of colour and of the other furniture and decoration in the room.”
At this New York City exhibition, designed by Studio Frith, The Drawing Center dug deeply into how to define ornament – be it embellishment, surface or structural. Can it be lifted from its context, reworked, reproduced, and redeployed? Plain English paints (normally reserved for our own projects) were the working foil for the ornamented pieces, providing the colourful backgrounds on which the ornaments and ornamented pieces hung. As suggested in the review by Ariella Budick in the Financial Times, “we decorate to soar and to survive”.
THE CLAMOR OF ORNAMENT: EXCHANGE, POWER, AND JOY FROM THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY TO THE PRESENT
THE DRAWING CENTER NYC
15 JUNE – 18 SEPTEMBER 2022
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL TERNA