"A Kook Milieu" Indeed: Kelly Behun's Pop-Up at Barneys New York

The interior designer found a muse in Holly Solomon, a pop art dealer whose personality was as loud as the paintings she loved.

Marquetry Lidded Boxes from the Kelly Behun XO Barneys New York collection. (Photo: Lauren Coleman)

Interior designer Kelly Behun aims to dissolve boundaries—between high and low culture, design and art, and art and craft. For a pop-up at  Barneys New York that opens this month, she looked to a muse with the same agenda. Through her artist friend Izhar Patkin, Behun learned of his late gallerist, Holly Solomon. Immortalized in portraits by Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, and others, Solomon was a fixture in the late 1970s and early 1980s New York art scene, known as much for her iconoclastic personality as for her incisive eye. She was drawn to artwork displaying all-over color and pattern, and was especially interested in mediums associated with craft (as opposed to fine art), choosing to ignore traditional art world partitions. Behun has emulated Solomon’s approach for the pop-up, titled “A Kook Milieu.” Her own new pieces borrowed the talents of marquetry masters in the Philippines, laser printers in Italy, and even select ceramicists on Etsy, resulting in playful interlocking vases, graphic lacquer tables, and quirky candelabras in black, white, and soft pink. These and others will sit alongside works by two of Solomon’s artists, Kim MacConnel and the aforementioned Patkin, as well as pieces she commissioned from three additional up-and-coming designers. “I think this idea of taking things that were considered crafty, or somehow not as-good-as as, and elevating them in a different context is really fun,” Behun says. And anyways, “You need a bit of kook.” Solomon would certainly agree.

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