Kelly Behun has brought her interior design expertise to the high-end homes of Rupert and Wendi Murdoch and Ian Schrager. Now the mother and style arbiter has curated After, an exhibit at R 20th Century gallery, with artist Alex P. White. On display this month, the show includes limited-edition pieces from Kelly Behun Studio as well as work from seven additional artists.
How would you describe your personal style aesthetic?
I’m generally drawn to strong shapes and clean, almost architectural lines: Margiela, Junya [Watanabe], Rick Owens, Alaïa, Narciso Rodriguez, McQueen… and that aesthetic carries over into my interiors.
As an interior designer, what have been some of your favorite projects?
It’d be hard to pick a favorite—each has been wonderful in its own way. In general, I love the collaborative process and the way it makes me think and work a bit harder. It’s been fantastic to do this new line, as it’s all about creating something from nothing, with almost no rules. But there is also something to be said for having boundaries—generally a budget, a deadline and a set of client expectations. I have found the whole process of collaboration yields beautiful and unexpected results.
What inspired you to design a furniture collection?
I’ve been wanting to do it for years and have had lots of ideas swirling around in my head. I approached Evan Snyderman and Zesty Meyers (owners of R 20th Century) a few months ago with the idea and didn’t actually expect them to say yes. When they did, I knew I better get started! It was just the kick in the pants I needed to make the leap from the conceptual to the concrete.
Who are the artists you collaborated with to create After?
Lola Dupré, a really wonderful collage artist who lives in the countryside in Portugal, another great collage artist, Gordon Magnin from L.A., and Sally England, who does traditional macramé but in a very modern and clever way. My co-curator for the show is Alex P. White, who works with me and is an artist himself. Other pieces are directly inspired by the work of Roberto Burle Marx, Lynda Benglis, Victor Vasarely, Niki de Saint Phalle and Peter Saville in his work with Factory Records.
Where does the After concept come from?
All the pieces in the show are inspired by methods of sampling, appropriation and deconstruction and how those ideas relate to the idea of authorship. So “After” quite literally acknowledges reference to a source.
What are the natural materials you utilize in your new collection?
This first collection is fairly small, but we’ve used everything from resin, mirror and glass to ceramic tile and macassar ebony.
This is a limited collection. Will you expand?
Absolutely, our goal is to continually add new pieces. I’m brimming with ideas.
Do you have a designer mentor or someone in history who has influenced your taste?
I love movies and have always been inspired by the magic of entering an entirely new world for two hours and being utterly transported; that stepping into a well-designed room can have the same effect is exciting to me. Films like Contempt, Blade Runner, Last Year at Marienbad, Labyrinth, The Ice Storm, Chinatown, A Single Man and Mon Oncle come to mind and are memorable in that way.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Francis Alÿs, Andy Warhol, Mary Heilmann, Frank Stella, Ruth Asawa, Betty Woodman, Michael Heizer, Elad Lassry, Olafur Eliasson and so many more.
If you could offer simple design advice to someone embarking on a new apartment decor project in NYC, what would you tell them?
Maintain a sense of humor.
Do you have certain criteria when picking a project?
I’m drawn to projects that represent something new or challenging; I don’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over.