When styling your home, conventional wisdom favours muted, neutral colours. But we all need a canvas for self-expression – and sometimes, just like in fashion – you want your room to really pop.
And what better way to make it happen than by channelling one of the most important pop artists of our time – Yayoi Kusama.
“I, Kusama, am the modern Alice in Wonderland.”
Step back in time….
For over 60 years, Kusama has explored her visions through writing, painting, sculpture, video, performance art and environmental installations. Her aesthetic falls somewhere between a magic eye puzzle and surrealist fever dream, with polka dots as a central motif. Repetition, infinite space and subtle variation are her core ideas.
While living in New York in the 1960s, Kusama had a direct influence on contemporaries such as Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenberg. She’s a sensation wherever she goes and, at 87, still going strong – and comfortable with her eccentricities.
“Since childhood, I have been painting, for no special reason, numerous dots and nets, drawing from the hallucinations that seem to appear endlessly.”
Since her return to Japan in 1977, she’s chosen to live in a psychiatric facility, a short distance from her studio. Kusama is candid about drawing inspiration directly from her vivid and persistent hallucinations. Her art is a necessary catharsis to achieve peace of mind.
Creating the Kusama look
Practicality, or good taste – take your pick – dictates that you won’t flip your entire home into a Kusama homage. Sensory overload would set in quickly. However, used sparingly, her principles can inject character and quirkiness into any space.
Think of it like cherry picking ideas from a fashion show. The original concepts might be too outlandish for streetwear, but it serves as a jumping off point for more practical use.
Polka dots are an artful accent, and while Kusama favours black dots on a colourful background, there’s plenty of room to play.
“A polka dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colourful, senseless and unknowing. Polka dots can’t stay alone; like the communicative life of people, two or three polka dots become movement…Polka-dots are a way to infinity.”
Lighting to love
In terms of lighting, anything that resembles a dot – or several dots – can be an extension of Kusama’s signature pattern. Duplicate fixtures throughout your home will echo Kusama’s repetition and tie adjacent rooms together.
The MVP when it comes to trickery with space and light, mirrors serve a purpose that goes way beyond mere vanity. While Kusama’s iconic infinite constellations work would disorient house guests for sure, you can at least open up a small room with the strategic use of mirrors. Claustro chic be gone.
The final word
Kusasma’s work continues to inspire new generations….leaving a legacy as a genuine game-changer who transcended the art world to become a cultural icon. If nothing else, she’s proved that people really love polka dots.