Barbara Westbrook’s projects always refrain from conforming to clichés. Her signature palette of whites and neutrals are a testament to the designer’s tactile, timeless designs. Mixing multiple shades of white creates warmth in a space. Her use of whites and cream highlight everything, making anything next to them more pronounced and more sculptural, a perfect back drop for handmade objects. By using whites and neutrals you can add interest in a quieter, more inviting way with a painting or a pair of vases that share the same hues.
Signature: The art in a person’s home often tells a story about them - who they are, what they value, where they have been. Is it difficult to choose an object or a piece of art that represents the clients and the vision for the home?
Barbara Westbrook: When we are researching art for a client, it’s usually towards the end of the project nearing the final installation, so I’ve come to know the home and clients so well that the balance of selecting things is just intuitive. Whether we are integrating a client’s treasured objects into their new home or accumulating every piece, it is our goal for each project to look as though every meticulously curated piece was collected over time.
Signature: Since our focus is 3-dimensional handmade objects, and we know that you often incorporate them in your projects, do you feel it’s important to have handmade objects in a space?
BW: Definitely. Handmade pieces always bring character and life to a space. Scale is one of the most important aspects of an interior, so adding something with dimension can provide a focal point or finish a room nicely. Handmade objects can add texture, giving dimension to a room. Artwork always adds the much needed final layer to a room to help add a little dimension or color to a neutral surface as well as personality.
Signature: When you go to a gallery researching for a project, do you often already have something in mind, or do you come in with an open mind?
BW: A little of both. I have artists who I already know and like, but I love to see what’s new, too. I consider the scale of the wall or room and scale of the potential piece, color palette, and charm.
Signature: Do you have any artists that you are repeatedly drawn to? Can you explain what draws you to the work?
BW: The Moulthrops [Ed, Philip, & Matt] are always a favorite. Their beautiful wood bowls can fit into any space, whether traditional or modern. They are organic and add warmth and elegance. I also love the ceramic forms that Eric Knoche creates, Jeremy Holmes’ wood ribbon sculptures, Kate Tremel’s wonderful pierced pieces, and Matt Kelleher’s simple, yet striking birds. All of these works are beautifully finished and easy to place as they appeal to often appeal to our clients and work well with our aesthetic.
Signature: How do you direct your clients or anyone when they are looking for objects and art for their home?
BW: Purchase what you love!
Signature: Many of our pieces are not only art, but are functional and can be used in everyday life. Do you have handmade pieces in your home? Can you talk a little bit about your personal relationship between art and how it functions in your life?
BW: A room’s utilitarian elegance underscores the marriage of form and function. I like to have a place for everything, just because it’s utilitarian doesn’t mean it has to be ugly.” A great basket can serve as a beautiful container for rolled-up towels. Using a handmade one of a kind soap dish or vase can add a wonderful moment in your day.
BW: I always think of our work as being modern with a dash of the old. It’s creating that little bit of tension between the modern and the old that makes it more personal. A one-of-a kind, artist made object can also add that personal dash as it embodies the clients’ tastes.