Born in 1956, illustrator Oren Sherman considers himself a walking, talking midcentury modern.
“It’s what I wanted as a kid,” he says. “What I didn’t realize was that people living in a Schindler house had lives just as chaotic as people in a Victorian house.”
Still, the principles and aesthetics of modern design had an impact on his art as a child – and on his career as an artist.
“My mother and father took me to museums to see everything, but it was the abstract expressionists that I learned to love – I remember seeing Rothko when I was a kid,” he says.
He grew up with heroes like Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast, and eventually produced illustrations for postage stamps as well as covers for L.L. Bean catalogs, The Atlantic and Yankee magazine. Disciplined by publication deadlines, he’d later begin to sell his prints to hotels across the nation.
“Then I had a revelation: What if the frame disappeared?” he says. “I looked at the surfaces of the hotel – the carpet, the walls and the fabrics, and realized that every surface in a space is an art opportunity well beyond what artwork could do.”
Now Durkan, the hospitality arm of Mohawk Carpet, has chosen his most abstract pattern for 12-foot by 30-foot repeats in carpets. He’s also signed a contract for custom-designed wallpaper with Koroseal Interior Products Group.
And he continues to produce prints for his online store. His newest line deals, appropriately enough, with the clean lines and spatial ideals of mid-century modern design.
“I’m really attracted to utopian ideals – spaces that are great organizers,” he says. “Even the architectural plans – they’re beautiful.”
He may live in a 1750 house on Cape Cod, but it’s furnished in Danish Modern. His Arts & Craft Boston studio reaches back to one of the first stripped-down approaches to design.
So the modern aesthetic, even in its earliest manifestations, is a consistent theme.
“William Morris believed that all these surfaces had the ability to change people’s lives,” he says. “Today the manufacturing processes are different, but really, I’m doing the same thing. I love his work – I channel him a little bit.”
And it shows.
For more information, go to http://www.orensherman.com/