By Tessa Raebeck
Whether you prefer sitting on leather or repurposed propane tanks, the exteriors exhibit of outdoor furnishings at LongHouse Reserve—the largest exhibit in the foundation’s history—aims to inspire designers and homeowners of every taste.
Opening Saturday, exteriors will display dozens of pieces across the grounds of the 16-acre East Hampton campus from 60 artists and designers both local and international.
“Prices vary widely, so do styles,” said Jack Lenor Larsen, the textile designer, author, collector, owner of LongHouse, founder of the foundation and co-curator of the exhibit. Wendy Van Deusen, Sherri Donghia and Elizabeth Lear are also curating.
“We hope viewers will begin to collect art and furnishings for their exteriors—not suites of matching pieces but those which will, above all, personalize their spaces—encouraging users to be more themselves,” Mr. Larsen added.
A number of furnishings, but not all, will be available for purchase after the show and sources such as Design Within Reach, Mecox Gardens and other participants have pieces available in their “great Hamptons showrooms,” Mr. Larsen said.
Globally sourced, the exhibit will display all aspects of outdoor living, with shelters, fabrics, lighting and other furnishings on view.
Local designers like Silas Marder of Springs and Sag Harbor’s Nico Yektai will show pieces, as will international designers and manufacturers from as far away as Colombia, France, Italy and Sweden.
Through exteriors, LongHouse hopes to show all the opportunities for outdoor living, instilling the idea that the backyard, patio or garden can become rooms in and of themselves, natural extensions of the home.
The exhibit is sponsored by Sunbrella, a design firm that encourages customers to channel the style and palette of the nearest indoor room when planning their outdoor space, in order to ensure the transition from indoors to outside is a smooth one, but not be afraid to make bold choices in design.
One such bold choice is the lounger “Fortune Cookie,” shaped like the crescent cookie lying on its side, made by Johnny Swing. The lounger, thick on one side and thin on the other, is made entirely from quarters welded together with stainless steel legs. An attention-grabbing bright red loveseat by California artist Colin Selig is in the shape of lips, with the arm rests making the curve of the mouth. The pouty love seat is made of repurposed propane tanks, but appears comfortable nonetheless.
Fitting for the springtime, the furnishings at exteriors allow one to be closer to nature and spend time within it, while still maintaining the comfort and style of the indoors. The outdoor furniture relates to the environment surrounding it, enhancing its natural beauty and allowing the viewer to enjoy nature without disrupting it.
One way the pieces relate to and work with the nature surrounding them is through “fire and water,” Mr. Larsen said. Items like fountains, showers, stoves and outdoor bonfires and fire pits recreate the natural elements without overshadowing them.
The “bench place” on site has up to 20 benches and there will be a dozen sun beds to choose from at the “lap pool.” There will be 12 sites at the exhibit, each with a distinctive style. Two of the rooms, the garden rooms, are under cover.
LongHouse encourages visitors to design their outdoor space at “a fraction of the cost” of furnishing an indoor room—or to splurge.
“There are such blockbuster pieces as a giant leather and steel hammock from Ralph Pucci for a tasteful 1-percenter,” Mr. Larsen said.
Lounge pieces from Brazil, which Mr. Larsen called “heroic,” are carved from heavy hardwood roots. Dozens of Pet Lamps, colorful, woven lampshades, will also be on display. Always unique, Pet Lamps are created by artisans in Colombia, Spain and Chile, complemented by cylindrical adornments made of mechanized iron and colorful textile cables designed by Alvaro Catalán de Ocón. From the American branch of the Italian design company Moroso, two dozen “wildly flamboyant” chairs will adorn one of the LongHouse lawns, Mr. Larsen said.
Likewise wild, the quartet SOUNDWALL will play during the opening reception. An extension of the sonic architecture company of the same name created by artist/musicians John Houshmand and Edward Potokar, the musicians play on inventions that are “sound architecture,” essentially pieces of furniture that function as instruments.
The SOUNDWALL drum wall is a wooden partition with 11 tuned drums of various shapes and styles incorporated into it. A triangular harp coffee table of cherry wood and steel also functions as a three-person stringed electric instrument, and psychedelic “thunder panels” made of aluminum and Mylar serve as a percussion room divider.
The exteriors exhibit opens Saturday, May 17, and runs through October 11. The LongHouse Reserve at 133 Hands Creek Road in East Hampton is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2 to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 per person. For more information, call 329-3568, or visit longhouse.org.