The vibrant paintings of British artist David Hockney are a source of interior design inspiration for many. Whether you are fantasising about where you would hang one of his paintings in your own home or simply fascinated by the interiors depicted in Hockney's paintings, we attempt to decode and pick apart the key elements so you can style your home Hockney-style.
A brief exploration of the furniture and chairs in David Hockney's interiors
Hockney's main themes are the exploration of space, our relationship with space and perspective, and the topic of making art. In his exercises in space he naturally painted many interiors, some with mismatched chairs, some with people in them that are intended as kind of inadvertent portraits with the the subjects sometimes deep in conversation or simply staring straight out of the canvas.
I’ve always loved chairs. They have arms and legs, like people.”
On occasion the chairs echo the larger than life personalities of the sitter, such as in the Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott (1969) where a large and inviting pink art deco sofa takes up much of the canvas, and is definitely suggestive of the kind of flamboyant hedonism of the the 1920's and 30's which mirrors the personality of the exuberant subject. Sometimes the chairs are low, squat, squishy arm chairs often in more homey settings, at other times he opts for modern, tubular steel chairs, such as that in the Portrait of Sir David Webster (1971), which appears in at least three of Hockney's paintings. This particular chair was considered ground-breaking at the time and has the effect of making the sitter look as if they are floating. It requires the viewer to do a double-take in order to see the two steel tubes holding up the rest of the chair. This optical illusion style is typical of Hockney's subtle playfulness with perspective.
Another furniture feature is the glass table top that appears in numerous paintings, and is often spotted in the background of television interviews in Hockney's studios. Just as the surface of the water was a fixation in Hockney's pool series, so does this glass table top present a series of perspective and technical-painting challenges that appears to have preoccupied Hockney for many years.
How to bring your own interiors to life using David Hockney's art as your inspiration
The colours of the pool series are a great starting point for a Hockney inspired interior. Whether you simply want to choose modern art that features blues and pinks, or add some pink throw cushions to your sofa, the colours can be incorporated into your interiors in subtle ways that none-the-less have impact.
One of the colours that appears frequently in Hockney's paintings is a duck-egg shade of blue-green that is easy to incorporate either as a wall colour, or as a subtle border tone that adds depth to a room without being too garish. It is a modern and fresh colour well in-keeping with the pastel tones of Hockey's paintings that evoke the dream-like quality of his works.
Use plenty of plants. Greenery appears in many of Hockney's paintings and most of it adds a tropical flair that for us Brits brings an extra sense of wistful summer time and nostalgia for days gone by. Typical for a Hockney painting is the Monsterra Deliciosa, which, so long as it has enough sunlight and is watered about every 4-5 days, is easy enough to keep alive. Failing that a cactus needs virtually no attention at all.
Add a glass coffee table. Hockney's shimmering water can be recaptured in a glass coffee table that is reflective of light and colour just as those glassy waters of that LA pool were all those years ago. And why not add the Hockney retrospective coffee table book for your guests to flick through at their leisure and see how Hockney has inspired your home.
Opt for that classic mid-century modern aesthetic of chairs with thin tapered legs, or steel tube legs, and simplified but classic designs. Good starting points are Ercol, Thonet, Fritz Hansen and of course Lynda Sparshatt's cocktail chairs.
Add some texture. Whether it's by using textured wall paper, a woolen throw over the back of the couch, or a dappled rug, add some texture to your rooms to emulate the rich patterns, or a rain spattered window, appearing in Hockney's works.
David Hockney interiors inspired by the pool series
In the summer of 2017 the David Hockney retrospective came to the Tate Britain in London and at a time when millennial pink was in its hey-day, Hockney's pool series seemed just as relevant to today's youthful optimism and consumerism as when most of the paintings were created in the 1960's.
I was so inspired by seeing the exhibition, and the life and colours of the paintings (which are huge in real life), that I even created a chair inspired by the colours and along with my trusty photographer over at Brown Leather Book, we created a photo shoot inspired by Hockney's pool series.