With roots in the fashion industry, a serendipitous passion for painting, and a “life is a moodboard” disposition, artist Kerri Rosenthal’s transition to interior and textile design came as no surprise. Kerri’s artwork paved the way to designing homes for clients enamored by the way her paintings invigorate a space: her portfolio now includes an assemblage of both vibrant, abstract artwork and chic, contemporary interiors. The progression from color and texture on canvas to full scale wall patterns inspired Kerri to start a home decor line, XOKR, which now features original wallpaper, pillows, fabric, and even a few poufs.
We learned a bit about Kerri’s journey from fashion to art and interiors, what inspires her personal style, as well as her top tips to a dynamic space with color and pattern. Read on below, and shop Kerri Rosenthal’s Chairish collection of gorgeous original art here.
How did you make the jump from fashion to art and interiors?
“I think when you are creative, it morphs into many different art forms. I started with fashion, but then painting came about very organically. My husband and I were out to dinner at a French restaurant in Greenwich, Connecticut and I was mesmerized by a particular painting on the wall. The very next day I went out and bought painting supplies…and painted for the next year. When I came up for air, friends would come over and comment about my work, which I really just painted for the walls of my own home. At one point my husband suggested I have an art show, which I did in a vacant shop in Westport…I sold out that night and my art became a business. My home was my gallery and clients would come to see my work, but they also loved my interiors and the comfortable happy vibe. Finally one very persistent client got me to design her house and I’ve never looked back.”
How and when did you make the connection that your pieces could be transformed into textiles and home decor?
“A client commissioned me to paint their entire wall. Once I finished the wall, I realized that my work translated far past the edges of a canvas and that I so enjoyed that feeling of letting loose on a wall and taking my art to the next level. That was the moment I knew that my work would translate well onto fabric, wallpaper, pillows, and furniture.”
How do your paintings and interior design work overlap? Have your clients commissioned artwork from you to design their spaces with?
“Many times art clients come to my shop, but it has very specific paintings that really only work into my shop’s concept. My painting studio is at the top of my home and my home really serves as a gallery for the full collection of my work. Art clients walk in to purchase a painting, but then feel very inspired by the space. The painting leads to designing their homes. On the other hand, it does happen that designers find a piece of mine that has really moved their client and they use that as a starting point that drives the design plan.”
Where do you draw inspiration for your artwork and how has your personal style influenced it?
“To me, my entire world is one giant moodboard, and every ounce of it influences the rest. The way I shop is an art form, the way I dress is an art form, and the way I design homes and the way I style my shop is an art form as much as my paintings are. The inspirations are unpredictable but constant. I love fashion, old school magazines, blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest. There is so much visual inspiration out there – I almost feel I have to shut my brain off just to fall asleep.”
You’ve designed several interiors and have an impressive art portfolio. Do you have a favorite project or series?
“I could never pick a favorite series as I have so many. I dive in deep and paint in one vibe and then I move on. I do however keep my ‘Drippy Hearts’ and ‘Flags’ as a constant and I am loving my ‘Words’ – and I especially love the way they touch people. I am working on an amazing home right now where I am part of the design and build portion of the project along with designing the interiors. In the end it will be three year project, and I am loving every bit of it and feel very proud to be a leading the design.”
What’s the story behind your ‘Concept Collections,’ the moodboards you’ve created that are inspired by your home decor lines each season?
“My concepts were originally designed as the inspiration for my year one fabric, wallpaper and home collection. We then brought it into the retail Concept Shop and it drove what I purchased [from other vendors] for the shop for that “concept.” We are closing on our first year for XOKR and the Concept Shop and we are in our fifth concept: ‘Tiki Summer.’ When you walk into my shop, reggae is playing and the shop takes you to another place. The pillows, walls, art, and clothing all contribute to the vibe of this tiki concept.”
5 Tips for Using Color and Pattern to Energize Your Space
Kerri shares some of her favorite styling tips to work more color and interest into your interiors.
- Mix multiple patterns.
“You can stay in a color palette and mix as many patterns as you wish with a few solids for grounding OR, you can just go wild and pull in similar designs, but then mix up the colors–almost like closing your eyes and choosing paints to paint with.” Combining different scales of the same pattern can also achieve a good balance.
- Pull inspiration from pieces you love.
“Sometimes inspiration comes from a painting, sometimes from a rug. We start with one inspiration and build the room from there.”
- Or draw your palette from artwork.
“You can draw color from paintings, but one rule of thumb is to never match your art to your interiors. Buy art because you fall in love with it and I assure that you will find the perfect spot for it in your home.”
- Work in neighboring colors.
“Once a painting is up, we pull neighboring colors on the color wheel in so that the art feels natural in its surroundings. It’s a very fragile balance but this makes a space feel real and organic vs. contrived and over-decorated.”
- Break up neutrals with color.
“My entire home is made up of neutral pieces. When the mood strikes, up go my brightly colored abstracts (pillows and books may move around at this point). Colors make me happy. Painting with them, adding them to homes we design and featuring them within my XOKR brand and Concept Shop.”
Photos courtesy of Kerri Rosenthal. Main photo by Nicole Stevens.