Bethan Laura Wood’s Fantastic Home in London


British designer Bethan laura woodThe s apartment is on the second floor of a 1925 Art Deco building in East London that has powder pink stairwells, mint green window frames, and baby blue accents. It’s a decent home for an artist whose practice centers on creating furniture, lighting, housewares and textiles in crazy colors. And like anyone who knows Wood’s Wisteria chandelier (a luminous explosion of hand-dyed PVC petals) or its Super fake A series of irregularly shaped rugs that riff on the varied layers of sedimentary rock one would expect, its own 575 square foot unit is a dazzling ode to the hues and textures that energize it. The walls are painted in peach, pistachio and mauve tones, the wooden floors are covered with vibrant geometric rugs, and everywhere are unusual objects that Wood has made or collected: pyrex lamps inspired by bouquets of flowers; a side table made from play-doh type strings of extruded pastel plastic. “I have always been fascinated by the digestion of places by color,” she says. “It’s the thing I use the most as a language.”

Indeed, Wood’s work has long explored the emotional power of regional palettes – from earthy grays of London to saturated blues of Venice – as well as the ability to manipulate industrial materials like laminate that are designed to mimic others. Incorporating references ranging from modernist Mexican architecture to the production of British wood veneer factories, she creates pieces, often produced in collaboration with brands such as Hermès and Tory Burch, that delve into the history of design and pose questions about globalism and authenticity, while evoking new dream worlds. For its current exhibition, “Ornate, ”At the Nilufar Gallery in Milan, for example, she took inspiration from Japanese kimono fabrics, Victorian boudoirs and insect anatomy, showcasing works such as scalloped aluminum cabinets with slender curved legs, yellow and green glass lights that evoke hard candy; and an aluminum and brass headboard formed by a shimmering profusion of golden and purple scribbles.

Its compact and bright living room is nonetheless a visual treat. Works from other manufacturers that Wood has acquired over the years, such as the Milanese artist and designer Nathalie Du Pasquier‘s Royal Daybed (an angular seven-foot-long chair made of thick laminate and cotton with exuberant patterns) and the circular lamp in green, yellow and blue resin resembling a jellyfish from the Italian architect and designer Gaetano Pesce hanging above – playing against his own creations. A woven jacquard tapestry of his design – adorned with zigzags of teal, rose, and burnt orange and informed by his obsession with stained glass windows in the new Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City – covers an entire wall ; a round, earth-toned laminate dining table with geologically inspired inlay sits next to the room’s single large window; and a totemic luminaire composed of stacked shapes of beakers, produced with the Italian glassblower Pietro Viero, hangs from the ceiling.

Collaboration is intrinsic to Wood’s practice, and many objects that inhabit his house are the result of partnerships or exchanges. From the living room, her collection spills into a narrow hallway – where an array of hats and handbags hang from several hooks and Murano glass artwork in the shape of Wood’s tabs line the floor-to-ceiling walls. – before continuing to his bedroom, which houses an Ultrafragola Mirror by postmodern Italian designer Ettore Sottsass, founder of the radical Memphis group, and a tangled tubular neon lamp specially designed for Wood by his friend the London-based glass artist Jochen holz to illuminate a 1970s floral textile she received during an exchange with a Brazilian gallery owner on a trip there in 2014, and which is now pinned above Wood’s bed. Next door, in the sunny little library – which she calls her “dreaming room” – art books sit on shelves alongside animal figurines, glass sculptures, wooden busts and paintings. other works of art, such as a birthday card made by the italian designer Martino Gamper, who was Wood’s tutor and mentor at the Royal College of Art in London (she obtained an MA in Product Design from the school in 2009, having studied 3D Design at the University of Brighton as a first cycle).

Throughout the apartment, and in keeping with the ideals at the heart of his practice, Wood elegantly juxtaposes high-end design with evocative everyday objects, many of which have discovered on his travels (a purple striped broom from a Turkish convenience store). , a magenta and cobalt blue feather duster from China) or at London flea markets, like his favorite painting, by an unknown artist, of a knight bathed in psychedelic swirls. “Don Quixote through the time chain of the 70s,” a friend said, Wood said. She often positions the pieces so that they can converse with each other and she describes how a multicolored rope mask by the Dutch designer Pot of Bertjan, which stands not far from the living room table, could easily be the knight’s helmet. “I’m probably going to do a project around this at some point,” she said. Likewise, she appreciates the affinity between a large jar of balloons resembling intestines submerged in liquid, a work by the London-based Spanish artist. Saelia Aparicio, which she keeps in her library, and the curved shapes of a poster in her hallway by Scottish pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi, whose patterns Wood regularly refers to in his own designs.

Collecting and crafting have long been linked for wood. As a child growing up in Shrewsbury, a commercial town in central England, she regularly played with papier-mâché and other craft supplies, and her mother’s penchant for hoarding false fruit and cooking utensils. Bakelite kitchen influenced the development of Wood’s tastes – although his rather minimalist father always preferred these items to remain hidden (except at Christmas, when Wood’s mother decorates the house with his collections). “I think that’s why I have to get my things out, because my mom has to keep them all in cupboards,” Wood said, laughing. “My dad finds my apartment a bit difficult.”

But for Wood, the pieces she collects are more than decoration; they are a material record of the places, experiences and people who animate his life and his work. “I love oral history that can be embodied in these physical things,” she says, referring to a jewel-toned Uzbek dress she accidentally found in a Paris market and a chair made from scraps. of polystyrene which it acquired during an exchange with the British. creator Max Lamb. Especially in the past couple of years, when staying indoors has been the default, living among pieces from friends and fellow makers has not been just a pleasure but a balm. “It’s nice spending time with these people in real life,” she says, “but when they’re not around I can hang out with their items. “

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