An arty Q+A with primo pattern maker Katie Deedy
We're ever so pleased to share today's 5+5 with Katie Deedy, a longtime friend of ours who's a formidable multi-hyphenate: this artist, designer + entrepreneur is the founder of Grow House Grow, a purveyor of theee most incredible, enchanting tiles + wallpapers we ever did see. We are obsessed with Deedy’s hand-painted designs, which she's been creating out of her Brooklyn studio since 2007. Aside from being absolutely stunning, every one of her patterns has a story to tell. From a monkey in a red bathing suit to a celestial situation inspired by ancient manuscripts to the rabbit in the moon, her thoughtful designs are suffused with folklore and history. Deedy is a master of pulling from personal experience and everyday curiosities to create patterns that draw us in, making us want to cover every surface of our homes to be surrounded by these magical narratives. — Team 20x200
5 Perfect Picks
1) Altarpiece, No. 1, Group X by Hilma af Klint
How can one NOT love Hilma? She delivers every tasty morsel: color, movement, mystery, energy, the divine. Her connection to spirit and involvement in mediumistic practices particularly resonates; viewing her work is transporting, and certainly feels tied to another world.
|2) Catskill Prairie by Caitlin Parker
Reminiscent of Anna Atkins’ cyanotype prints, this dreamy ode to the Catskills is a timeless snapshot of one of my favorite places: Upstate, New York. After an icy white NYC winter, there is nothing like watching the country landscape tenaciously bloom into its full glory. This print serves that cheer year-round.
|3) Luna Park at Night a 20x200 Vintage Edition
I’ve always been fascinated by old New York, particularly the lost grandeur of its many classic theaters and public buildings. Coney Island and the Rockaways, as NYC’s turn-of-the-century playground, are no exception. Once lined with luxurious hotels, bath houses, and every entertainment spectacle you can imagine, that fact that so little remains from its heyday is such a blow. Imagine walking through Luna Park or Dreamland (with it’s one million electric bulbs!) in the 1910s, when less than half of the US had electric lighting in their own homes. You can’t look at this photo and not feel the excitement and romanticism of a night out in Coney Island. To me, this is a wonderful dose of time travel.
|4) Response to Print of Kudzu, Texas by Laura Plageman
I can’t help but love how beautifully chaotic this image is. Love it or hate it, kudzu will always remind me of giant ivy monsters along the side of the Georgia highway, eating up everything in its path. I’m a born and raised Southerner who’s lived in New York for 17 years; my identity straddles both places and cultures, which means my Brooklyn life leaves me homesick for Atlanta sometimes…a place where instead of a watery ocean, we have this wild sea of green.
|5) Siren by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii
I love this print as much for its color and subject (can’t you smell the lilacs?) as for the method through which it was made. Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii was a pioneer of color photography, and to achieve his vibrant images he would take three black and white photos—one with a red filter, one with blue, and one with green. The result was some of the world’s first colorful images that feel as alive today as they did over 100 years ago.
5 Q's + 5 A's
Wow. This is nearly impossible to answer! Can I cheat? I’ll keep it just to New York, or else I’ll sound like a travel guide. The Neue Gallery because I’m a sucker for the Wiener Werkstätte and anything Jugendstil, The City Reliquary because it’s NYC’s civic museum with a heart, the Merchant House Museum because it’s like stepping back in time, the Met because it’s a mecca, and The American Museum of Natural History because my daughter and I have a million memories of every corner of that magical place. I have more. Too many more.
2) What's your most coveted coffee table book?
At the moment I have Taschen’s Book of Miracles on the table, which is a reproduction of a 16th-century German manuscript filled with incredible and wild depictions of natural and supernatural phenomena. The illustrations are magical and and otherworldly, and were created to document/explain everything from meteors and shooting stars to famous Biblical events. I actually created a wallpaper based on this book, called Nacht. It’s a speckled starry night pattern that’s super dreamy.
3) Favorite Color?
Any shade of green, from aquamarine to emerald.
4) You've got $5m you have to spend on one piece of art. What would it be?
I think an original Hilma af Klint is out of my league, as are all of Klimt's paintings (but I just love his use of pattern and color!). And the way Edward Hopper plays with light is just dreamy, but again, I think I need to scale my picks here. Here's hoping $5MM would buy me Egon Schiele's "Kneeling Female in Orange-Red Dress." I could live--very happily--with that.
5) Do you prefer a single statement piece of a salon wall?
As a pattern maker, I love the look of a salon wall, but it has to be done just right. At the moment I’m building my antique silhouette collection, which hopefully will develop into a cohesive salon wall (I like the idea of multiple pieces together with a similar look). If I can’t have that, I want some awesome wallpaper with a punchy statement piece front and center!
6) If you could be reincarnated as an artist, who would you want to be?
I would be Emma Kunz. Her art was more than just visual: she incorporated divination, healing, energy, spiritualism, and a deep search for enlightenment. I don't think I can explain her life and work in one quip--it definitely needs to be seen to be understood.
7) A deep appreciation for the power of storytelling underscores your pattern creation process at Grow House Grow. How does your love of narrative play out in your personal approach to art collecting?
When I was younger, I had difficulty appreciating a lot of modern and contemporary art because I needed the "why." What was the story? What do these bloops of ink on that canvas mean, and why is this considered valuable? I think that's why I was attracted to artists like Edward Hopper and Maxfield Parish as a kid. They created worlds that had so much potential and unspoken story behind them. It was easier for me to get lost in the image because I could feel how much work went into building the narratives. Now as an adult, I do still like illustrative work, but my interpretation of where the story lies is so much broader and requires far fewer figurative elements. Honestly, like everyone else, it really comes down to how the art I'm looking at makes me feel; the imaginative story that makes it stick blossoms from there.
The 411 on Katie Deedy
Katie creates narrative-inspired wallpaper and tile through Grow House Grow, her Brooklyn design studio founded in 2007. Her love of history, storytelling, and curiosities--along with an affinity for pattern--find their way into every product she designs.