Interview with Fab.com
“Brooklyn-based Flat Vernacular is home to designers Payton Cosell Turner and Brian Kaspr and specializes in original hand-drawn, hand-printed, and bespoke wallpapers. From super-hip revisionist patterns to beautifully detailed prints, these stunning designs will turn your walls into a work of art.” Thanks Fab! We loved being interviewed by you. The full conversation is below, but can also be seen here.
So where did you two chance upon one another?
The name Flat Vernacular, simply stated, means the language of the 2D. When we were founding the company we wanted a name that would convey our ideal: an inherent visual language specific to our fine art background that would be able to adapt to different products and projects. We created a list of words that defined 2D, and a list that was synonymous with communication. After a long discussion we came up with Flat Vernacular. The word “flat” has a slightly negative connotation. Unless you’re speaking to a mason or carpenter, no one really likes flatness. We intend to change that perception.
Where do you find inspiration?
We are both strongly in favor of Chuck Close’s sentiments about inspiration. He said, “Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work.” With that said, traditional wallpaper and decoration is a major source, but we simply find inspiration in a variety of places. Random places. A stack of boxes laying just so, caterpillars, roast beef, Americana, the way the light looks at 5AM in Westhampton Beach, etc. A lot of color choices are a direct result of our artwork, painting, printmaking, and photography, as well as pattern ideas. Our phones and Instagram are full of interesting colors and patterns. Generally speaking inspiration comes from the everyday, and often times seemingly “normal” things.
Which designers and life experiences directly influence your aesthetic?
Brian is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and this strongly influenced his aesthetic sense. He loves the stripes found on a certain kind of van, shiny gold wallpaper, brown shag carpets, and re-thinking the uses of everyday (often discarded) materials for improved ways of designing products. His favorite artists include Robert Rauschenberg, Julie Mehretu, Richard Serra, Ed Roth, Stephen Shore, and Bruce Nauman. Payton grew up bouncing back and forth from New York to Connecticut, went to synagogue for 5 years then was baptized Episcopalian. She spent weekends explaining art at the MoMA to her bewildered father, and the rest of her time reading books, still life painting, and studying movies. Payton’s favorite artists include Mark Dion, Louise Bourgeois, Woody Allen, Ed Ruscha, and Yayoi Kusama.
How did your brand launch?
In August of 2010, we did a soft launch of our website that included only five designs, four of which have since been discontinued. In May of 2011, we officially launched with a party at our friend’s lovely store in Tribeca with 14 fresh designs, and were featured in the New York Times, W Magazine, and Elle Décor shortly thereafter.
Do you have any design icons?
Payton loves Maira Kalman, Sonia Delaunay, Miuccia Prada, Mrs. Grossman, and Ray Eames. Brian loves Lot-Ek, Charles Eames, Liberty of London, Paul Smith, and William Morris. Both: love Versailles.
What is your dream project?
Covering the Guggenheim in sticker wallpaper on the inside, wallpapering the outside in a vibrant pattern, and then locking minimalist artists and lovers of beige on the inside OR (more realistically) decorating an entire hotel with full artistic license.