Produced, designed, written and directed by Brian Patrick Flynn with photography by Sarah Dorio
Five years into my interior design career, I’ve tackled some seriously “yeah, good luck with that” projects: fraternity house, two animal rescue spaces, three-story-high rooftop dining room with no elevator, mid-century garden shed, two non-profit children’s art studios, lounge space for teen girls, non-profit dining room for the homeless and an 8,500 square foot two-story restaurant on a shoestring budget and blink-and-you-missed-it timeline. So, of course, a room inspired by a two-time Academy Award winning Hollywood icon would be the next step, right? What the $%#@?
Jane Fonda founded GCAPP [Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention] in 1994 when the state of Georgia had the highest rate of adolescent pregnancy. This year, to raise funds for the cause, she hosted World Fitness Day, a nod to her Spandex-clad exercise videos of the 1980′s. When asked to create something relevant to the event for its live VIP auction, I jumped at the chance to whip up something over-the-top, legwarmer-centric and totally Barbarella…but didn’t. Huh? While fur-upholstered, zero-gravity, spaceship style rooms are totally awesome, high society patrons dropping thousands of dollars to take them home seem rather unlikely. Oscars and Emmys aside, the Fondalicious auction deserved its own award. Jane and her friends raised thousands of dollars for GCAPP, the winning bidder got the deal of a lifetime, my high-strung upholsterer drowned himself in free top-shelf liquor and I got to turn legwarmers into pillows.
Getting into character
The design process got its jumpstart from a collection of Jane Fonda related items including: striped violet/grey legwarmers, faux Barbarella-esque fur, 1980′s reading glasses, a pair of grey three-pound weights and two Lady Jane classics on DVD, one critically-acclaimed and the other….well, not.
To steer clear of cricket chirps at the live auction, our custom big ticket pieces needed to remain neutral and un-boring. Each item also needed to be able to stand alone if, perhaps, a bidder saw it being used differently in their own home. The platform bed’s dark brown mohair upholstery could have been super masculine but the violet accents added a little bit of a she thing. On a similar note, the traditional Distressed Louis XV chest chest from Wisteria could have sung What a Girl Wants but the grey finish, dark hardware and hefty lamp counterbalanced with heavyweight bravado. I originally intended to paint the studio walls deep violet but chickened out, then opted for a medium shade lavender. Did I initially despise the color and want to stab the paint can with my pocket knife? Yes. Did I eventually conclude that the slightly safer tone truly helped each piece to stand out? I’ll never tell.
While our furniture remained pretty much unrelated to any particular Fonda classic, the accessories were all about Jane. My upholsterer, Miguel, whipped up the eight-foot-tall mohair upholstered platform bed in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. As for our leading lady’s inanimate grand entrance…let’s let the numbers do the talking.
1. A pair of 26X26 faux fur throw pillows evokes the interiors of Barbarella‘s spaceship
3. The striped rectangular throw pillow is made from re-purposed leg warmers, a wink to Jane Fonda’s Workout
5. Barbarella makes a second abstracted appearance in the form of a lava rock style lamp
6. Jane took home the gold, as in Emmy award, for her role as a pioneer woman in the TV movie, The Dollmaker [PS, ever try borrowing an Emmy from a friend to style a photo shoot? Yeah, neither had I. And let me tell you, it's not easy.]
7. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? [Jane's first Best Actress Oscar nomination] made its way in bedside in the form of a wooden horse statue
8. Physical fitness made a second appearance, Jane Fonda’s Workout style, with a pair of grey three-pound weights
Our left side vignette is another smorgasbord of Fonda references. Wait, there are two bedside chests? Yep. How come the previous wide shot didn’t show both of them? Perhaps it’s because I’m a photographic control freak, didn’t love the composition and refused the shot? Well, yes, that is indeed why. But enough about me, let’s talk about Jane.
10. A second reference to They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? [my favorite Fonda performance] sneaks in via a brass horse
Halfway through the styling of the room I realized I over-emphasized, albeit abstractly, four Fonda classics more than others: 9 to 5, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Barbarella and Jane Fonda’s Workout. Oh well, it’s my project and I can do what I want.
To assure bidding interest from men, we created a testosterone packed sitting area. Since guys are sticklers for comfort, my upholsterer and I designed a pair of extra deep/extra cushy metallic leather club chairs to pique their interest and their vertebrae. Dudes also dig hot chicks. Enter artist Mark Boomershine. The handsome fellow created a Barbarella-esque pop art version of the beloved First Lady of Fitness [and knocked it out with just a few days notice]. Our 5’10 Mr. Nice Guy [with canine sidekick, Bentley] stuck around for us to get this shot not only because (a) it’s awesome but (b) we wanted to make sure the chairs weren’t so deep that they’d swallow dudes under 6’5. My team finished off its Fonda fondness with these final references.
12. Barbarella pop art by Mark Boomershine hangs above the custom leather club chairs
13. A taupe linen pillow sporting the numbers “925″ pays homage to the film 9 to 5
Although our Fonda-inspired room went to the very first bidder in less than 15 seconds, I noticed something not very philanthropic about myself; I wanted that damn legwarmer pillow for my own house.