Allison Eden lives in a wildly colorful world.
That was clear from the moment we first met the glass mosaic artist back in May at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in Manhattan.
Her booth was a vibrant showcase of the handcrafted work of Allison Eden Studios in Brooklyn, where she has long created unique custom designs for residential and commercial clients around the world.
Dressed in one of her signature riot-of-color outfits, Eden hinted about a new collaboration to bring her work to the home-goods market before memorably summing up her outlook.
“I try to really push the button on what you can do,” she told us. “Why live in a beige room?”
We kept thinking of that encounter on a recent morning, one that finds us sitting at a conference table strewn with fabrics depicting Allison Eden designs.
We’re in the Nanuet headquarters of LebaTex, the veteran textile supplier noted for its work in the hospitality, commercial and health care industries.
We’re getting a sneak peek at the first designs of the Allison Eden Pop Art Collection, a collaboration that signals a new creative direction for both parties — Eden’s first foray into fabrics, for drapery, bedding and upholstery, and LebaTex’s first artist collaboration.
A rainbow of color is interpreted in shapes sometimes geometric and other times organic, in iconic images and with an overriding sense of exuberance in more than a dozen patterns with names such as Blue Jewel, Amore, Pucker Up, Marble Trellis, Groovy Halo and Funky Stix.
It’s all vivid — and the eventual result of LebaTex founder Stacy Garcia’s own memorable first encounter with Eden.
“My history with Allison goes back years,” Garcia says, noting she first met the artist at a Florida tile and stone trade show, captivated by both Eden, “a vision in vintage Pucci,” and her work.
Since then, she says, they “admired each other from a distance” until Garcia finally approached Eden.
“I said, ‘Have you thought about taking your mosaics into fabrics?’” — and that was the start of what has now come to colorful fruition.
From the start, the goal was to create a product that reflected Eden’s lively work, to “capture the essence, so it wouldn’t be flat,” Garcia says.
And indeed, the fabrics, sold through the trade, are unique in their luminosity.
Evidence abounds in an early project. One of Eden’s interior design clients was working on a Hamptons home and given access to the collection before it was officially unveiled at BD/NY, a Boutique Design Trade Fair, held in mid-November in Manhattan.
Even Eden was impressed by the fabric’s effect on a bathroom.
“The whole thing was white and they added these great drapes and poof,” she says. “A lot of people are so afraid to go into color … drapery, upholstery is such a great way to go into that.”
The strength of the collection as a whole, Garcia says, is that it truly translates Eden’s spirit and her artistry.
“She has a vision that’s beyond,” Garcia says. “She personifies it. She has a base who want it through the lens of Allison.”
And the more the world sees of Eden, the more it wants, Garcia says.
“I think ultimately, we as human beings… we want to have a little fun,” she says.
But it’s not simply playful, she adds.
“It’s a way to put art, not framed on a wall… even if it is a drape, it’s an art piece.”
AT HOME WITH COLOR
Eden feels there is an innate power to the work.
“I love coming home,” she says of her own color-filled surroundings. “There’s no place I’d rather be. Your home should be your sanctuary, a place that makes you happy to go to.”
And color, she says, is key to that happiness, as she came to truly realize thanks to a commission to create 1,000 square feet of glass-mosaic wall finishings for an Alaskan hospital. Working on site, in a place where literal darkness is a part of the environment, she was told again and again how vital the colorful work was to the mental health of all who saw it.
“We need color to survive,” she learned.
And it can be whatever color you want, as all the Allison Eden designs are part of the LebaTex M.O.D. Fabric Program — which can be modified for color and scale on more than 20 base cloths, for as little as a single yard.
The “mod” is a clever choice of phrase, reflecting both the Mod sensibility of the patterns but also the “Manufactured-On-Demand” program.
The new collection is the latest step for Eden, who in her third decade in the business is finding outlets for her creativity continue to evolve.
“I’m just really excited,” she says. “I think it’s something new and fresh. I think the interior design world needs new and exciting all the time.”
For Eden, it’s the culmination of a road that began in California, where she grew up in La Jolla before coming East to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.
“I went actually for fashion design but I always loved interiors,” she says, before adding with a laugh. “I was really terrible at sewing.”
She wanted to incorporate fashion and interior design and making art “all rolled into one,” so after graduation she would “walk around the Garment Center (and) see if anyone wanted to renovate.”
She’d have examples of her glass work on her at all times.
“Everyone thought I was crazy, ‘What are you carrying in your purse?’” she says.
From an early project — a commission to create a mosaic floor for a Burger King on 46th Street — she has never looked back. Today, her designs grace hotels and boutiques, restaurants, casinos, art galleries and private homes.
This month, her work can also be seen in the holiday windows of Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan. Her dramatic, aquatic mural design of last year led to her being invited back. This year, two Allison Eden windows have been created as part of the tribute to “The Greatest Showman,” the Hugh Jackman film depicting the story of P.T. Barnum.
For Eden, it’s just about a full-circle moment.
“The circus is really about people that didn’t fit in becoming stars,” she says. “I’ve always been different than everybody.”
And with her windows — and new fabric line — it’s clearly time to celebrate those differences.