Art has always had its place in interior design. It can accentuate, beautify or even reveal something surprising about a space and its inhabitants. It also makes a house feel like home, which is why its appeal is enduring.
This season, colourful and evocative art is taking centre stage. “I’m seeing a movement away from minimalist, monochromatic palettes,” Vancouver-based artist Dana Mooney observes. “People are slowly injecting happy colours, like touches of blue, green and yellow, back into their homes.”
Mooney’s specialty lies in modern fine art. Her abstract acrylic and watercolour paintings, which she describes as “calming and peaceful,” are dreamily pastel-hued pieces that are often inspired by natural elements like the sky and the ocean.
Montreal-based artist Claire Desjardins’ wild and bold abstract creations also fit right into this up-and-coming décor trend. “I use dynamic brush strokes [to craft my art]. I want my work to bring joy to people,” she explains animatedly. From large swathes of bright pink and orange to lush floral depictions, Desjardins’ original acrylic on canvas paintings have an uncanny ability to make you feel—and brighten up any living space instantly.
Another Vancouver-based designer, Michelle Pang, pushes the envelope by creating scarves that bear intricately detailed hand-drawn illustrations of flora and fauna. Endangered species like Sumatran tigers and orangutans often feature in pieces for her brand Misheo. “Through my whimsical, elegant illustrations, I would like to raise awareness for these animals,” Pang shares. “They need a voice so people can save them.”
What ties all these artists together: A desire to introduce art into the home in the most refreshing ways. Pang’s illustrations are printed onto luxurious scarves made of silk, cotton/silk blend, or eco-friendly Tencel, which can be framed on walls as a visually arresting centrepiece. They come in various sizes—square, long, or oversized—and are produced in limited quantities.
Mooney’s hand-painted throw pillows are some of her bestselling items and come covered in swirls of happy colours. In June, she also launched a line of hand-painted, one-of-a-kind laundry baskets with Vancouver-based home goods retailer Nineteen Ten Home.
Desjardins’ range of home-décor products are possibly the most prolific. The design maven has created candles, rugs, dining chairs, lampshades and other home accessories in partnership with Anthropologie. Her art is also used as wallpaper and is splashed out on cushions, fleece blankets, bathmats, duvet covers and even shower curtains. “I love to make people happy,” Desjardins says. “Knowing there are people who are buying my art in different ways is so fun; [I like that] it adds a pop of joy in their lives in that moment.”
But the home is not the only arena in which these Canadian artists are making their mark. Both Pang and Desjardins are seasoned pros at making their art wearable, too. Pang’s most-popular scarves for Misheo stand out for their surrealist leanings: Night in the Jungle features a majestic-looking jaguar surrounded by large palm tree fronds and tropical flowers, while Rabbits and Pomegranate depicts albino rabbits frolicking among strands of pearls and around a cluster of yellow fruit. This fall, Pang releases a wool/silk blend scarf collection featuring iconic wildlife and plants of the Pacific Northwest, like the bald eagle and British Columbia’s dogwood flowers, respectively.
Desjardins’ signature collection of her eponymous women’s apparel line has also been sought-after since it debuted in January 2019. Now available in 500 stores across Canada and the U.S,, and another 200 in the U.K., her attention-grabbing pieces feature her abstract art on everything from T-shirts to dresses, jackets and capri pants. She’s also teamed up with Projects Watches—whose other collaborators have included renowned architect Moshe Safdie—to create a wristwatch design available from September.
What’s clear in conversing with these creative spirits is that appreciating—and wearing—art is full of intangible, invaluable benefits. “Painting is a way for me to escape the chaos of life,” says Mooney. “I want people, when they have art, to come home and have a sanctuary to get away from the [busyness] of the world.”
“Art is a really good thing to be interested in,” Desjardins affirms. “Art expands the mind and creates a pleasant environment to live and work in—especially during the winter months, when one spends more time indoors.” —Isabel Ong