The hallmark of a great artist’s studio: a daybed


In these series for T, “Worn Stories” writer and author Emily Spivack interviews creative guys about their most precious possessions.

In her home studio, artist Susan Cianciolo’s main piece of furniture is a daybed, a nod to artists before her, such as Henri Matisse and Donald Judd, whose studios included beds for naps and contemplation. .

I like having no furniture – just tapestries and pillows – on the floor of my home studio. It’s a bit of a joke with the people who come because they know that when they come to my house, they sit on the floor. One of the only furniture in the studio is a 1920s daybed that a dear friend Frankie Rayder gave me in 2004. I sit on the daybed to embroider or meditate. Having a daybed is like being back in a time when there were living rooms or rooms for drawing or doing embroidery.

For a while I wanted to make an extravagant blanket for the day bed, a blanket that fits our home better so that the furniture becomes part of the space. This summer, I’m finally doing it. I use a lot of fabric samples that my daughter Lilac collected for me. I’m also taking apart a kimono that I used to give an embroidery workshop in Portland, and I’m reusing an old Guatemalan poncho with purple cats. I cover it all. The only part you will see are the black wooden legs and knowing me I may leave some parts of the original upholstery visible.

Credit…Courtesy of Susan Cianciolo

All of the pieces surrounding the daybed relate to my family or community. On the floor in front of the daybed is an orange and green quilt made by an artist I opened a store with in Mississippi, Coulter Fussell. There’s a quilt piece that was a gift from Gillian Haratani, an artist I worked with in the 90s, and a table runner that Kiva Motnyk made with help from our Run Home Collection team. On the wall are some of my favorite drawings from other artists, one of my old collages from 1996, and more recent collages from a recent show and movie. The daybed is almost like an altar.

I had a day to do research when I was in London recently, and I drove to the Henry Moore Foundation. His sculptures might not exactly match my aesthetic, but his home – that’s exactly how he left it, and it reminded me of visiting Charles and Ray Eames’ home a while ago. years in LA. The way I look at these houses, I see them as works of art. They made me think of my own house and how I have tapestries on the floor in a way that looks like my exhibits.

I’ve seen so many old photos of artists’ studios that have a direct connection to their home or that were in their home. I want to build my home studio on them. I saw these beautiful photos of Matisse on a bed in his studio, and the bedroom is just beautiful. Or Josef Frank – many of his interior designs for the main rooms where people sat had a bed. They look luxurious. It made me feel like a studio can be whatever you want it to be. Because my work touches the family environment, I wanted a home studio with a daybed. It is my natural habitat.

This interview has been edited and condensed.


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