AT: Interview Jill Crawford - Custom Modern Murals

AT: Interview Jill Crawford - Custom Modern Murals

Vanessa De Vargas
Aug 22, 2006
When we think of murals we think of silly themed wall paintings covering a room. But for modern muralist, Jill Crawford these innovative wall drawings exhibit a whole new meaning to the word "mural". With the popularity of wallpaper and modern decals, Jill's drawings can be a great way to customize a personal image to your own interior or exterior space. I had the pleasure of meeting Jill a few weeks ago and was so inspired by her wall drawings, I just had to share her talents with AT! Following is my interview with Jill about her work as a designer/artist thus far. How did you come to be a designer? Like most designers, I felt compelled to alter my living spaces even as a kid, starting with making houses out of the sofa cushions and backyard shrubs when I was 5. Luckily (or maybe unluckily) my mom pretty much let me do what I wanted with my room. When I was 8, I was obsessed with the Victorian era, so I picked hideous olive green and ecru reproduction wallpaper and an awful canopy bed; it was quite possibly the most dismal child’s room ever, but I was happy at the time. When I was 14, I went in a completely different direction and did a stark, bright, quasi-industrial room with lots of vividly colored Marimekko prints and blond wood. In college, I made my own furniture (at least those pieces I didn’t rescue off the curb.) My actual design career began about 9 years ago, when I started designing sets for TV commercials and programs, and then segued into interiors. What's your favorite color to work with and why? Oooh…that’s a tough one, as my favorite changes almost daily. Today it might be lemon yellow, tomorrow chocolate brown. But I will say that green is always near the top of my list; I find it both relaxing and invigorating at the same time. What color combinations do you see using in the future? Dark taupey gray with cinnabar; sky blue with tangerine; and brown with aqua or hot pink (who knew Baskin Robbins had such great color sense back in the 70s?) What is your greatest source of inspiration? There are a lot of sources of inspiration, from movies to novels set in other cultures and times to vintage fabrics and of course, my fave magazine, British Elle Decoration. This past weekend, I was in Vancouver and saw Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Garden, an amazingly inspirational classical Chinese scholar’s garden with unbelievable window screens (each one completely unique) and gorgeous patterns made out of different stones on the courtyard floors. For my wall paintings, I often try to bring in either something immediately outside, like the birds in the branches, or something that is important to my client. Right now, I’m working on a wall painting based on photos of the Michigan woods where the client spent her summers growing up. Which interior or furniture designers, past or present, do you most admire? Jamie Drake, David Hicks, Tommi Parzinger, Michael Rosenberg, Paul Frankl, Gio Ponti, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Kelly Wearstler, my friend Shannon Shapiro, Andre Arbus. Describe your design theory in 4-6 words. Good design creates happiness. What is your signature mark that you always try to implement in a space? I’m not sure that I have one, although people often say that I have a signature style. I guess one thing I often do in a space is tweak the scale of one item so that it’s five, ten or twenty times the size you might expect in a more traditional space. And I frequently use a lot of bold color balanced with a lot of white. If you could redo any space, past or present, what would it be? I would love to do a Neutra house, a simple open pavilion in Bali and a big, rambling Adirondacks or Maine coast shingled “cottage.” The Lodge at Rancho Mirage is an amazing modern, natural building in a stunning setting, but the décor is just crying out for a complete makeover: it’s way too fancy and fussy for the building. What 5 things does a well designed home need? 1. A comfortable, well-lit place to read. 2. A dinner table large enough to seat at least 10 good friends 3. A cushy lounge chair outside, preferably with a view 4. A kitchen that inspires you to actually use it 5. A shower big enough for two. If you hadn't become a artist/designer, what do you think you would be doing now? Probably still producing news for NPR, which I did for 10 years before becoming a professional designer. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I would like to be at the Maison et Décor show in Paris, with products I’ve designed flying off the shelves!
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