Art Mood: Endless Possibilities

What do you get when you combine a designers love of colour with an artists’ aptitude for history and augmented reality? Interior designer and stylist Jono Fleming and visual artist Guy Lobwein show us the endless possibilities of art and design. Our editor chats to the duo before they collaborate to produce three enviable looks for three standout artworks.

JONO FLEMING

AE: Can you tell me a bit about your career as a stylist?

JF: My career in design has been a bit of a long road. I went to university and got my degree in interior design and from there I worked for a few firms. But after a couple of years I found myself at a crossroads and started exploring the world of food and interior styling, interning at online retailer Temple & Webster. From there I went to Inside Out magazine where I was the style editor before leaving and going freelance to work for myself. I now run my own interior design business, continue to style, co-host a podcast House of Style and sell art online at Palette by Jono Fleming. It’s been an interesting 15 years in the industry but I don’t think I would change the way I’ve done it one bit!

What is your design ethos?

It’s all about finding a personal style and making the space really reflect who you are. But that is easier said than done. My taste has evolved and I’ve started to pick pieces that really reflect my style, rather than what I think I need to choose. I try not to follow any rules. While I’ve saved for some beautiful designer pieces, I like to mix high and low; most of the artworks on my walls are by local Australian artists, people with smaller profiles whose art I just connect with. Creating a beautiful home doesn’t need to cost a fortune, it’s about finding the pieces that speak to you first.

In your opinion, what does art do or add to a home?

Art is one of the easiest and most personal ways to express yourself in your home. There is a misconception that art is just an afterthought to decorate or that it’s only for people who can afford it. People can get scared when investing in art but with schemes like Art Money, it can become a reality. Viewing art in-situ rather than a gallery space can also really make a difference. It’s the same as a lot of design and decoration conundrums, it all comes down to the light in the space. Colours and tones look different under gallery lights and you might get more natural light (or less) in your own space. I recommend people pick up on colours that are already in their home, that way you know it’s going to feel cohesive in your space.

For this project you have teamed up with Guy Lobwein, a digital artist. Talk us through how you worked with Guy on this project.

I’m very used to designing and building sets for editorial shoots but this was a really fun change for me, and a lot less heavy lifting of furniture. Designing spaces based off artworks is a really interesting challenge, you don’t want to be too literal but it has to compliment the piece, and there are endless possibilities. I based the rooms on mood and colours in the artworks to create inspiring spaces that Guy could bring to life.

Tell us about your personal taste when it comes to art. 

I’m all about colour! I used to be much more cautious and I think in general, colour in the home can be daunting. Australians are always told to think about resale value when it comes to homes, so we have a big trend of incredibly neutral spaces. Which is fine if that’s your taste, but the power of colour in a home can be such a mood enhancer. I have a very eclectic art taste, so much of it for me unsurprisingly comes down to colour. I am also really drawn to expressive brush strokes and very painterly takes on traditional subjects like still life or landscape. It’s a bit of a mix of old and new for me. That being said, I have a wonderful piece by artist Xander Holliday which has block colours and abstract shapes, so I guess variety is key for me.

Do you have any exciting projects coming up?

Myself and my co-host Kerrie-Ann Jones are planning our fourth season of our podcast House of Style which should be released later in the year. I’ve also spent the last year working on a You Can Centre, a youth cancer centre, with the SONY Foundation. It’s been such a rewarding project to be able to turn what is normally a clinical hospital space into something more homely for teenagers and young adults battling cancer. And there’s a beautiful mural by Indigenous artist Konstantina who I’ve been working with. Her mural will welcome people into the centre. I can’t wait for this one to come together!

Left image: Jono Fleming in his home. Photo: Jacqui Turk. Courtesy: Jono Fleming.

GUY LOBWEIN

AE: How did you come to be a visual artist specialising in digital practices?

GL: I think I’ve known for a long time that visual art is critical to how I make sense of the world. My drawing practice was what first led me to pursue a career in the visual arts, particularly in creative research. After my undergraduate degree, I was reading a lot of philosophy – it soon made sense to mix it with what I was making. After I finished my masters, I started my PhD in experimental digital art practice. Currently I’m in my second year, gradually writing and making in a research context. This has really come to define how I approach visual art and 3D rendering.

Your practice meets at the crossroads between art, design and technology. Where did your love for creating virtual/augmented spaces come from?

I’ve always had a desire to be in the painting – to be immersed. I started working in virtual reality about five years ago, slowly building up skillsets of animation and 3D rendering. After a while, I started making work that drew upon expanding real spaces. In 2018, I embarked on an international art residency in Russia. There, I worked with Russian archaeologists to rebuild a historic village in virtual reality that had been destroyed in the Second World War. This was a major milestone for me as it really showed how 3D environments could have agency, alongside being affective and immersive in a contemporary art context.

As our world is becoming increasingly digital, what do you think the future of digital art is? Will it ever stand in place of physical art mediums?

This question is maybe one for a philosopher, as what is determined physical and virtual is pretty muddy theoretical terrain. One could argue digital art is still physical art, as the screen can be understood as equal to the canvas of a painting. I think it’s totally up to the viewer to determine how it makes them feel. In my experience, all mediums of art have affective power; digital art has had profound influence on my life already. However, the entwinement of our physical selves with virtual space is definitely a little concerning.

When buying art online or in person it is often hard to visualise how it will look in your home. How do you think visualisation tools such as 3D rendering can help when buying art and what future do you see for this technology specifically for the art market?

3D rendering is a unique way to see how an artwork could sit in a space. Particularly for larger pieces, this technology could help give buyers clarity on whether it would change the feel of their home; a place which we seem to be spending more time in these days. I can already see this technology being implemented as an augmented reality app on phones. Users could download an artwork and using augmented reality, look through their camera and see it real-size on a wall or in a space.

For this project you have teamed up with Jono Fleming. Talk us through how you worked with Jono on this project – being an artist yourself, what was your role and how did you approach working directly with an interior designer and his vision for the spaces?

Jono has a wealth of experience I lack when it comes to interior design and architecture. When working in the studio, the instinctual rigor of experiment and failure can become a wild goose chase through visual, sensorial, bodily responses. Jono guided me through this collaboration with calculated compositions that extended these paintings beyond their frame. It has been a true pleasure understanding the world of a familiar yet sometimes disparate discipline to the visual arts, as throughout this process I have begun to reflect on how my own work could build from this knowledge. In my capacity as a visual artist, my role was to build spaces on Jono’s designs that not only reflected the aesthetic qualities of these artworks, but also situated them in a home environment.

What is your art ethos?

Concept has always been more important to me than medium. When working on an artwork, I don’t believe I should define the outcome by the medium I am most comfortable with. I think the principles of the avant-garde have always remained as central to how I work in the studio – experiment, experiment, experiment! Movements such as the Bauhaus, Constructivism and Dada have always been a big influence on my practice.

I often deduct many design elements in my digital art practice, so they each have their time to shine. But my work could not live without socio-historic context. My work has always been grounded by a larger theoretical field, whether that be art movements, philosophy, or historic events. My personal taste in art is usually artworks that have, or draw from, a socio-historic context. I enjoy the work of artists who understand their field of practice and build upon those elements. That being said, I’m always a sucker for an immersive installation.

Right image: Guy Lobwein. Courtesy: Guy Lobwein.

More Art Mood features from issue #29

Art Mood: Endless Possibilities

What do you get when you combine a designers love of colour with an artists’ aptitude for history and augmented reality? Interior designer and stylist Jono Fleming and visual artist Guy Lobwein show us the endless possibilities of art and design.

Art Mood: Adam Halliday

Interior designer Jono Fleming creates looks for three artworks with sophistication, balance and mood.

Art Mood: Holly Zandbergen

Interior designer Jono Fleming creates looks for three artworks with sophistication, balance and mood.