Are perfectly positioned interiors not your thing? Are you looking for a little more eccentric inspiration? Photographer Robyn Lea’s new book,
Creative Living: Bohemian Interiors Around the World, ( Abrams, $40) will surely satiate your artistic side. Lea, who is an internationally renowned photographer, director, and best-selling author (you may know her from Dinner with Jackson Pollock: Recipes, Art & Nature) has traveled around the globe to shoot more than 20 international style icons, from Barnaba Fornasetti to Bella Meyer, Marc Chagall’s granddaughter and one of New York City’s most beloved floral designers.
We asked Lea what inspired the book and she told us that “as a child growing up in regional Australia, I spent a great deal of time in the home of an artist couple, John and Sara Benn. They were friends of my parents and they soon became my creative mentors and an important part of my extended family.” She continues, “They lived a bohemian existence, and their eclectic home, and wildly artistic and uninhibited lives provided me with a compelling example for how to live.” Unfortunately, Sara died just a week before the book launched, which was devastating for Lea. “I wanted to show her all the homes I had photographed and all the artists who felt like an extended global family. So I feel like this book is an homage to her—her profound love, her incessant artistry, her infectious eccentricity, and the homes she created which still inspire me today.”
Herewith, a look inside some of the artists' private spaces.
When Italian artist
Francesco Clemente moved to New York in 1981 with his wife Alba and their two children, they chose to live on one of the city’s most dangerous streets. After buying a large loft there, they bought a number of essential furnishings including a couch, a shelf, and a small table and chairs, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, “for a few hundred dollars apiece.” This view of the studio shows some of those original pieces alongside designs by Ettore Sottsass and Jean Prouvé. A large Fernwood Spirit Statue from Vanuatu frames a portrait of Rene Richard by Clemente on the right. In the distance the Julian Schnabel–designed dining table can be seen in the kitchen area, which became the setting for many of Alba’s legendary meals. Some of the details of their dinner parties are recorded in Andy Warhol’s diaries. More
There is a thoughtful quality to the placement of furniture, artwork, and objects in Francesco Clemente’s NoHo studio in New York. He has created a shrine in the center of the room, where he can meditate. Nearby a baby grand piano invites another type of contemplation, through music. In the kitchen, his tea set is a reminder of another of his favorite rituals—the tea ceremony. Other areas in the studio are dedicated to the careful arrangement of his brushes and jars of paint. The only seemingly random aspect to the space is the studio floor, seen here with palette knives arranged by the photographer, which is splattered in decades of paint.
Casa Fornasetti in Milan is not only
Barnaba Fornasetti’s home but is also his design studio and office, as well as a comprehensive archive of the work of his father, the late Piero Fornasetti. Many of the rooms feature designs by both father and son, though the home is far from a traditional museum. In fact, Barnaba, a passionate music lover, whose favorite dance is the jive, is known to throw some of the liveliest soirées in Milan, including a highly coveted annual party during the Salone del Mobile. If you are lucky enough to be invited, don’t expect to have a long conversation with him on the night, as he may well be busy playing DJ. More
There are several guest bedrooms in Barnaba Fornasetti’s Milan home. One is soaked entirely in the color red—from the floors, walls, and table lamps to the 300-plus books with "red" in their titles. It’s an intense effect, and Barnaba admits that guests don’t last long staying in this room. Another guest room, however, is seemingly designed for magical dreams and endless stays. The walls are lined in Fornasetti
Nuvole al Tramonto wallpaper by Cole & Son, and the ceiling is painted in the blue of a moonlit sky. A soft light from garden-view windows illuminates the room which features Piero Fornasetti’s 1950s Architettura drawers, Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi’s 1950s Chiavarina chair (originally designed by and produced by Fratelli Levaggi) and an 18th-century Italian oval wood mirror. More Story continues
Barnaba Fornasetti in his music room at home in Milan. The design of each of Casa Fornasetti’s rooms invites you to consider decor in new ways, taking you inside an alternate reality, or as Barnaba says, a ‘surreality’. The many convex mirrors for example, offer guests a distorted view of themselves, porcelain cats are curled up on desks and beds, and ceramic or fabric butterflies dance across lamps, tables and floors. Barnaba prefers not to leave the house for any great length of time: “I am absolutely addicted to it. My home is a protective oasis in perpetual transformation. It represents my life: my job, my interests and my philosophy—all entwined.”
Friends have often tried to lure artist
Rebecca Rebouché to live in NYC or L..A. But she has always known that big-city life would not work for her. And it seems that she wants for nothing, having built a global network of fans and collectors from New Orleans, without ever compromising her lifestyle. Every corner of her home and studio is alive with her handmade creations and artwork, much of which was inspired by the natural environment on her doorstep. From the Mississippi River to the woodlands of north Covington, Rebecca makes regular forays into nature to work, expeditions which sometimes culminate in bluegrass "pickin’ parties" in the forest with her extended group of creative and musical friends. More
Rebecca’s "Treehouse" in the Covington Woods is a three-story house with ample room for painting and excellent viewing areas to watch for forest animals. Many of the woodland creatures appear in her work, including several featured in this series of plates and platters she created for Anthropologie.
Artist Rebecca Rebouché will often go to Fontainebleau State Park, Louisiana, to find inspiration for her work. If there are no alligators in view, she will swim in Lake Pontchartrain, paint by its sandy shore, or string a hammock between two trees by the water to daydream. In this photograph, taken in the nearby park, Rebecca embraces a 200-year-old oak tree, which is covered in Spanish moss.
In Australian artist
Gavin Brown’s parlor, the riot of rich colors, married with velvets, silks, and antique tapestry cushions, creates an atmosphere that can only be truly appreciated after dusk. Gavin explained that as he is rarely in his apartment during the day, he designed it for evenings only—complete with red lacquer Chinese cabinet, Portuguese candlesticks, a wooden Quan Yin carving, and an early-19th-century French chair. More
Having been forbidden to attach anything to his bedroom walls as a child, Australian textile designer Peter Curnow, an avid collector, now applies pattern and texture to every surface of his home. Walking through each room is like thumbing through the pages of a travel diary. Chinese lattice screens in the entrance area frame a large round Irish table with legs carved in the shape of dolphins, accented in gold. Anima-hide rugs cover floors and walls, and paintings by Gavin Brown, such as
Wildflowers with Figure (2013), seen here, are featured in several rooms. More
Bella Meyer was born in Paris and grew up in France under the creative influence of her grandfather, artist Marc Chagall. Weekend visits to his home and studio with her mother always involved a stop at the market first to find him some flowers, which would sometimes become subjects in his paintings. More than 30 years after his death, Chagall’s advice and love of flowers continue to guide Bella, who owns a magical flower boutique on East 11th Stree in New York City, Fleurs Bella. Her apartment nearby, shown here, is also dotted with reminders of the great artist, including his desk, where Bella likes to sit, draw, paint, or write surrounded by piles of papers and books, handmade puppets, and potted plants. More