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Friday
Mar022018

Bright Ideas

 

Portrait of Robert Escalera by Mathias Casado-Castro, watercolor sketches for the spring 2018 shade collection, photography by Stuart Tyson Portraits, courtesy of Robert Escalera

Robert Escalera knows a thing or two about painting. Since developing a proclivity for drawing at an early age, “I began drawing fashion as early as Pre-K. Luckily, it turned out I was quite good at it.” Escalera has since studied at Parsons School of Design in NYC and designed for top fashion clients including J.Crew, the Gap and boutique labels. Today, sketching and drawing is integral to his creative process, and we’re excited to see his visions translated into a new medium for The Urban Electric Co.

 

Fashion sketches, courtesy of Robert Escalera 

As fashion is always at the forefront of design, it seemed only natural to partner with a leading visionary in the field who brings a sense of whimsy and wonder to his work that can translate to the home. “Lately it seems to be a ping pong game, fashion influencing home, home influencing fashion, it is an indicator of how people are living, how they want to be seen. And if you pay attention, you can get a sense of what people want to wear and to live with.” Escalera’s designs for this capsule collection embody the spirit of putting oneself out there. Lampshades have long been a decorator trick for adding color and personality to a space, and we feel Escalera’s prints do just that.


Shades launched February 2018 as part of the spring 2018 collection, photography by Stuart Tyson

We had a few moments to chat with Robert and discuss his work, life and what’s to come.

UECo: We’re thrilled to speak with you about the new collection. Being based in Paris, what’s a typical day like for you?

RE: My day starts at 7 AM taking the dog out for a walk, I like to use this time to take photographs. Then we come home I straighten up the house and commit myself to draw for at least three hours. Then a work out or swim and then hit the library for some researching. I also have so many friends from around the world that come visit Paris, so depending on who's in town, there's also lots of shopping and entertaining to do.


“I commit myself to draw for at least three hours.” - Robert Escalera, courtesy of Robert Escalera

 

UECo: Where do you like to go (locally or otherwise) to find inspiration?

RE: I’m lucky to live in Paris and have access to some of the most amazing libraries. I love the library, and I love riding my bike to the library. And, because I’m fairly new to the city, I find inspiration everywhere, but my life in New York was like that as well. Inspiration is everywhere you just have to look for it, but more importantly you have to have an idea of what you're looking for and be open to be surprised.

UECo: How would you describe your style?

RE: Small gestures that create a big impact. I try to get a tremendous amount of information across with minimal amounts of line. It also has to make me smile, there's a cheekiness to everything I do.


Watercolor sketches, “I draw faces constantly.” - Robert Escalera

UECO: Two of the patterns you created feature expressive portraits -- who are these individuals, and why did you decide to focus on them for this project with UECo?

RE: I draw faces constantly, they aren't specific people per say they represent the spirit, an attitude but I'm trying to get across. I suppose it comes from constantly watching, you notice subtle things about people's expressions, I find that endlessly fascinating, your face doesn't lie. The reason I offered up these portraits were because I think they're a real honest expression of what I do, and how I see. They're expressive but simple, they're colorful and chaotic but if you pay close attention you'll realize what little line work is involved.

UECo: The palette is restrained and exuberant, what do you think about when considering the palette for a piece, collection or collaboration like this?

RE: With the five pieces that I worked on for this first group of shades, I think the pattern really dictated the palette. It's one of those organic things, I sit with this array of materials but in my head I have an idea of what I want to put down, that informs my eyes and my hands where to go, what to grab. I think I've created a vocabulary of color with my style.

UECo: What do you love about the art industry?

RE: It never ceases to bore me, it inspires me to look deeper and work harder.

UECo: Any projects you’re currently excited to be working on now or for the future?

RE: I’m working on some apparel projects currently, and I’d like to continue to see where I can utilize my work in the realm of home furnishings. I'd like to find some new and unexpected applications for my work.

UECo: Where do you most envision the shade collection in someone’s home?

RE: The beautiful thing about prints and artwork in general is that it's personal, so where someone sees it living is a mystery to me, and that’s exciting!

Lightning round:

  • Favorite place to buy art supplies: ROUGIER ET PLé
  • Favorite coffee shop: I NEVER TOUCH THE STUFF, BUT I DO LOVE HIGH TEA AT THE MEURICE
  • Favorite indulgence: UTOPIE CHARCOAL BAGUETTE AND SEA SALT BUTTER
  • Favorite book: KEITH HARING JOURNALS, GIOVANNI'S ROOM (JAMES BLADWIN) AND ANYTHING DAVID SEDARIS
  • Favorite time of day: 2-5PM LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS ARE REALLY QUIET AT THAT TIME.
  • Favorite color: ALL OF THE ABOVE
  • Favorite meal: BREAKFAST FOR DINNER
  • Favorite place to work: MEDIATHEQUE FRANCOISE SAGAN

Follow Robert on Instagram @roberte64.

Learn more about the collection here.

Produced by Ben Reynaert.