Home for the Holidays
The Far East meets the Midwest in Lovell & Associates' holiday installation for the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 2/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
LOVELL ASSOCIATES received a special invitation this past holiday season: to design an interior "residential landscape installation" for the Chicago Botanic Garden's annual December festival. The project came with a pre-selected theme, "Island Home Holiday," and a selection of sorbet-hued fabrics donated by Bergamo. Otherwise, the firm had carte blanche to transform the Garden's museum space, an 800-sq.-ft. rectangular white box, into their particular version of a winter fantasia.
Principal Suzanne Lovell and partner Darlene Fridstein created a series of fabric-tented vignettes in a horseshoe layout to soften the room's modernist lines. An assortment of Far-Eastern antiques inspired the décor, which juxtaposes natural materials like river rocks, wood, and moss with the exotic color scheme. "We reacted to a few oddball pieces we knew we could get from our local suppliers," which included a pair of Chinese root chairs, a child's chair from Sumatra, numerous metal lanterns, and a carved Burmese ceiling panel, "and then built the room around them," says Fridstein. The trick was unifying these pan-Asian details in a design that, while avoiding kitsch, would retain a reference point in traditional holiday iconography. They devised a central element that ingeniously crosses cultural boundaries: a cascade of eighty-two dangling Chinese lanterns, individually illuminated by low-wattage bulbs, in the shape of a twinkling holiday tree.
The duo completed design and construction in a tight six-week time frame, proving that, "when inspiration strikes, you can pull something together pretty quickly."