Artist and designer Elizabeth Dow began her career as a color field painter, preferring paper to canvas for her works. It is a medium that suited her well, with several pieces being a part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian, as well as having done installations for A-listers like Paul Simon, Harrison Ford, Bill Gates, Estee Lauder, Tiffany and Company, The Peninsula Hotel, and the Oval Office. Locally, Dow is known for her namesake home goods store and its popular wall coverings and textiles. Debuting her new collection, The Collective, she is sharing what this new line holds, and her journey into interiors.
“The Collective is an idea about a collaboration, and for me, having a fine art background it has always been a group show, a group whose members share a conversation,” Dow says. “It’s a dialogue between wallcovering and textiles.”
Sheer drapery fabrics with interesting weave structures, like combinations of fibers and structural twists in the fabric, are paired with a collection of paper-back linens to become very much a part of a room’s story. The collection includes fabrics called Twist, Wind, Martin, Lino, and Matsu in muted earth tones and neutral shades. Dow says Wind is a billowy, summer drapery fabric that reminiscent of the Hamptons and summer lifestyle. Of an interesting fabric, she says the suede paperback has a unique quality.
“Here the beauty is that the nap changes,” Dow explains of the suede. “You have this motion that is inherent in the fabric itself, and plays well with the drapery. It has its own life.”
For Dow, the transition to add textiles to her repertoire was almost embedded into her subconscious. While graduating college, she met art collector Florence Barron who sold Dow’s artwork, and also became one of her major influences. The collector discovered, purchased, and sold early discoveries of important artists. Most notably, she had commissioned a self-portrait of Andy Warhol, a four-panel piece that sold at Christie’s in 2011 for $38.4 million. In addition to her passion for art, Barron was also an interior designer specializing in modern interiors.
“I would often visit and show [Barron] new art I was producing, and I didn’t realize until later that just walking into her home and the interior decorating and thoughtfulness of the walls and furniture had a major effect on me,” Dow recalls. “It became intrinsic; it was everything I was look for in an interior.”
For Dow, the idea of artwork, walls, and furniture all became one. Wallcoverings were an easy transition as she already loved painting on paper. She says they became the background that tied into the whole feeling of the house and a platform in which artwork could live on. As this progressed, Dow’s work evolved to include textiles. “I felt there was a logical extension of drapery into the end of a wall, a continuation of developing the interior,” she says. “It has come full circle. We now have our own showroom featuring artwork, textiles, and wall coverings.”
Dow continues to paint. She finds balance between painting and design by approaching both forms of art in the same manner. “It is basically the same creative process,” she explains. “Concentration, a period of time. It’s a full-on emersion of either color, texture, scale, and movement in painting. They all have the same visual components as does an interior. It’s that emersion into a different set of materials.”
In addition to the debut of The Collective, Dow is also excited to be donating the fabric for the Sag Harbor Cinema theater seats, and hopes to be involved in how the interior of that celebrated space evolves.
Elizabeth Down Home offers collections of seating, sofas, tables, lighting, home accessories and more, as well as complete interior design services. The showroom is located at 14 Gingerbread Lane in East Hampton. For more information, visit elizabethdow.com.