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Friday, July 13, 2007

Voices of Design: Scott Flax

Today is a fascinating interview with someone who normally flies under the Radar of the design community and that person is Scott Flax. Scott came to my attention a few years ago when I was visiting a Show house. In the Kitchen the designer had done one of the most inspiring wall treatments that I had ever seen, it was a stencil pattern (well at least i think it was a stencil) of chicken wire, it created the most delightful country yet modern motif it was beautiful. Scott was responsible for this. I later learned that his primary business is as an Architectural Colorist, a career I never even knew exist, but made perfect sense. Since then I have used Scott for color consultations to huge success, I hope you enjoy what he has to say, i think he's fascinating!

MC: You have developed an incredible reputation as a colorist, which to a lot of people is a somewhat mysterious field, can you explain a little how you got into this field, and give a brief description of what it is you do?

SF: Specifically, I am an architectural colorist (as opposed to a hair colorist). I came to this rather specific design field because of a number of circumstances. One, I wanted to begin consulting as a way of getting off of the scaffold (I'd been a decorative/mural painter for twenty five years and beginning to ache) and create more time for painting in my studio. I also had met and worked with Donald Kaufman and Taffy Dahl (leading architectural colorist in the United States) and when I began to consider this path , they were very helpful in talking with me on how to approach my vision. Fortunately and unfortunately, the business of consulting came much quicker and grew much bigger than I had imagined. After seven years, I can say, "I found my niche." My scope of work involves creating color palettes, decorative finishes (both in studio and with various artisans and artists), and design work in regards to flooring (tile and wood). In bringing me on board to collaborate with decorators, architects, and clients, it is my job to create a context that has a beautiful, cohesive quality and a point of view.

MC: When you are brought into a project, how do you start?

SF: When I begin a project, I do two things. Look and listen. I study the architecture, after all it all begins there. Taking cues from it. Seeing where color can support and sometimes, correct, a situation. I look at how the light (both natural and artificial) relates to the space. I look at the sighting. I see how it relates to the elements around them (whether urban, suburban, or rural). I listen to the intention of the decorator, architect, and in the case of residential, the home owner. What is the mood, the style, the feeling they are trying to evoke. Often there are furnishings and art to take into account. When I have the opportunity to work with museum exhibitions, I have to understand the curatorial intention and themes. Of course, that is always a great pleasure as I get to be up close and personal with painting and sculpture and dialog with experts on art and art history.

MC: What color is your home? How did you get to that decision?

SF: Although I would have been very happy in an all white (custom, of my own creation, naturally)house, I was over-ruled by my partner who insisted when our new house was built, " you do it for everyone else, I want color!" So I thought about our location (a few blocks from the beach) and began creating cool, calm, refreshing colors. So when you come in from the glaring light, you would immediately be transported and relaxed and hopefully breathe a deep sigh of relief. I created a exterior stucco color that was the interior palettes' counter-point . The stucco is a warm, creamy, deep off-white gray color. Always changing. How I imagine Roman "white" to be.

MC: Do you see any big trends in color? Do you pay those any mind?

SF: I think the big point on color trends is that "color" is a trend. "Swiss coffee" in all its permutations has been rendered obsolete. As far as trends, I work site specifically, so all color is fair game.

MC: Are there any colors that you keep coming back to? I guess what I am asking is, do you have a favorite color?

SF: I will tell you I have love affairs with specific colors, but I don't force them on anyone or anything. Its all about what works best in any given situation. As you know, a specific color is only as "right" as the other colors its asked to relate to.

MC: I know that you are a fan of Farrow and Ball, as well as Benjamin Moore’s Aura paints, what is it that draws you to these particular manufacturers?

SF: Farrow & Ball color system is a beautiful language of color. Very flexible in both traditional and modern applications. The actual paint has a great visual quality. The Estate Emulsion has a sheen/hide that is rich and subtly reflects the light. The oils are outstanding. Benjamin Moore has approximated this high quality in their Aura paint line (water based). The actual group of Aura colors are interesting and good looking. The nice thing about the Aura paint line is that you can have any Benjamin Moore color from any series made in this high quality paint.

MC: What do you think has been your greatest success story?

SF: It sounds cheesy, but doing what I love and getting paid for it is success in itself.

MC: How do you deal with clients who might be color blind, or at least see colors different from you?

SF: Its funny, my approach and my color presentations give clients a relaxed forum to speak openly about what they are seeing and sometimes feeling about the colors suggested. Their relationship to color is so complex and personal. It is often interesting and comical in their associations. But my bottom line, if they react negatively to a color suggested (with or without explaining), I put that color board away. That knee-jerk reaction says it all. Too many other options to force them to see it a certain way. Color blindness is a different matter. They will usually ask me to help understand the color and why I'm proposing it. I can't think of too many times where color blindness has been an issue. Clients who hire me usually have heightened color senses and strong opinions about color.

MC: Where do you see yourself and your career heading five years from now?

SF: In five years down the road I'd like to have had the opportunity to develop some fabrics and wall coverings, using some of the color and motifs I have developed over the years. I am always thinking about writing a book on color, not a "how-to book", but more personal and hopefully artful.

1 comment:

casapinka said...

Incerdibly interesting and informative. What a cool career choice.