The main inspiration for Kelly Behun’s pop-up collection comes from Holly Solomon, the well-known New York City gallerist who pioneered the Pattern and Decoration Movement in the 1970s and ’80s. “Her message was, ‘Who is to say that things typically considered craft or textile art—a category used for a lot of women’s work—couldn’t also be considered fine art?’” Behun recently told The Window. “She was groundbreaking in the way she blurred the lines between art and design, and how she made people reconsider art in the context of the home.”
Melding conceptual art and functional design in a way that’s both comfortable and accessible is part of Behun’s mission. But she also wants to get people out of their home-decorating ruts. “I called this pop-up shop ‘A Kook Milieu‘ because it refers to something that is slightly off, something that adds an element of surprise to a space,” says Behun. “It’s that piece that gives a room soul and keeps it from looking too restrained and perfect.” She mentions the times she’s been asked to incorporate a client’s prized—if quirky—possession into her design schemes, and the challenges and rewards it brings. “It pushes you creatively,” she says. “You have to work grandmother’s crazy whatever into your plans, but you know, sometimes grandmother’s whatever ends up becoming the centerpiece for the rest of the space.”
The pop-up shop also includes items that Behun selected from thought-provoking forces in the design world, including painter and sculptor Izhar Patkin and artist Kim MacConnel. “I love giving other artists an opportunity to share their work,” she tells us, adding that despite being known for her bold and graphic aesthetic, she prefers to be thought of as someone who embraces all styles of art and design. “I try to stay open to inspiration in any form,” she explains. “You never know where the next good idea might come from.”
Check out “A Kook Milieu“, Kelly Behun’s pop-up shop of home accessories, exclusively at Barneys New York on Madison Avenue, September 8-October 31, 2016. Items also available for sale on barneys.com.