What do stickers, Virginia Woolf, and The Babysitter's Club have in common? They're all important figures in the work life of Payton Cosell Turner, the artist/designer and founder of Flat Vernacular, an experimental design studio that pushes the boundaries of traditional decorative fabric and wallcoverings—the company has created wallpaper from false eyelashes, stickers, and black-and-white outlines meant for interactive coloring.
The starting point for these ideas is a small, second-floor room in the 1950s Connecticut farmhouse where Payton and her husband, artist and Flat Vernacular cofounder Brian Kaspr relocated three years ago.
Brian and Payton established Flat Vernacular in 2010 in Brooklyn, after an installation of Payton's sticker art and Brian's embroidery in the West Village shoe store Leffot led to their first custom commission.
Decamping to the country, Payton says, "has given us so many things. First, cute things like caterpillars in our yard, but most importantly, the space to really explore some of the the special, more fine-art projects that were the reason we wanted to start Flat Vernacular."
Payton's light-filled space, which she has covered in "View," a favorite Flat Vernacular pattern, serves many purposes. "It's a sanctuary," she says. "The lack of noise here allows me to really focus and think more clearly—and having more space makes it easy to do weird projects."
Each Flat Vernacular project begins in this studio, where Payton will paint or sketch out her ideas. "It's important to Flat Vernacular that we start everything in an analog way," she explains. After meeting with Brian to talk process and go through what she describes as a "kind of critique" of the initial ideas, she returns to the office space to design on the computer.
Besides these more literal parts of the process, their room plays host to a variety of other activities that inform Payton's creative work. "I like to read, I write, I research," says the designer. The assorted antique furniture also lets her play host. "Sometimes, when I have friends over it feels like this could be Claudia's bedroom in the Babysitter's Club," she says. I like that casual feeling."
Payton runs the book club at the Flatiron location of the female-only club The Wing with her friend, the writer , and the group's discussions on female relationships have prompted her to re-read the series, in preparation for an essay she plans to write on female friendships.
At the end of the day though, guests—and several cats!—aside, the space, most importantly, is Payton's. "As Virginia Woolf said," she relays, "every woman needs a room of her own."
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