Ahead of Voutsa’s pop-up in Clerkenwell London’s Front Room, we asked founder George Venson to tell us a little more about Voutsa in his own words.
How was Voutsa formed?
Voutsa is a shortened version of the Greek name of my ancestors, Voutsanessis, which was turned into Venson upon their immigration at Ellis Island. I started making wallpaper by hand one day, before Voutsa began, which interested me for a variety of reasons (portability, affordability, and scalability)…..Sold some commissions and a printing company took a few designs soon thereafter and launched my first collection under the name George Venson for Studioprintworks. I wasn’t thrilled by the percentages so I painted, developed, and produced my first collection of wallpaper for Voutsa LLC, which has become a bit iconic with the lips, koi, snakes, etc, and launched it in New York and Paris to bizarre success. I continued and have since launched three wallpaper collections annually, turning them into printed textiles, ready-to-wear, and accessories for the home and body.
Was there a particular industry moment that shaped the Voutsa brand?
Voutsa’s very first trade show, the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York – which I found a few days prior had openings via Instagram – My friend Elizabeth Peng and I borrowed a ladder, stapled the wallpaper to the bare walls letting it flow down. It felt fresh and exciting compared the very polished neighbors and our booth’s response was incredible!!! People were starving and we fed them.
How would you describe the Voutsa brand?
Voutsa is an evolution, a process, a staple, a risk. We are small, but we pack a lot of punch! We are swift, but we are in it for the long haul.
How would you describe your own style?
My favorite item is the Voutsa x Paul Marlow Grecian Urns Tunic, which I could wear every single day. With shorts, with pants, to the beach, to bed, to a sexy cocktail party or even a formal dance. Sometimes I fantasize the Bond suit and martini lifestyle, other days I’m wearing vintage Yamamoto and old Raf. I don’t really like the color beige unless it is used in a critical way and my favorite clothes are black and white and often incorporate silk. Of course, as an interior designer I love DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA. I want to feel interiors and my body craves the theater. I also love the look of someone who somehow exists outside of capitalism, whatever that means…..
What are your key cultural or artistic influences?
At the moment I spend a lot of time at Lincoln Center for the ballet and opera, The Joyce theater which is next to my studio in Manhattan. Filmmakers like Fassbinder and Almodovar are huge visual and emotional moving-image inspirations of mine, as well as many, many visual artists. At times my days are spent with inventory. On these days I think a lot about product design, people who were really innovative but also commercially super successful. Then other days if I am working on a set, a costume, or a mural, I think about different things that are less numbers-driven. One has to wear many hats and keep a diverse roster of references to draw on.
Describe your process and technique when creating each piece.
Every piece that you see in your shop began with painting on paper. I develop patterns in a few layers and after photographing and scanning I weave them together like a tapestry to create an endless repeating pattern. At the moment everything is painting, but I would love to develop sculptural patterns one day.
Do you have any particular design that directly reflects your personality in the Voutsa brand? What is your most coveted product in the collection?
From The Vanity Collection, our newest wallpaper line, I would say Mimi, a chinoiserie of garlands and plumes amidst a very-Vreeland red background feels like my relationship to Voutsa. Celebration, rejuvenation, eccentricity. Ritualistic decor: A bit odd, but radiant. However, the self-titled George wallpaper is, in fact, a self-portrait.
Clerkenwell London considers itself as a multi-disciplinary destination out of the love for curated stories across many mediums. Would you say Voutsa shares that same ethos?
Finally, tell us what we can expect from your pop-up at Clerkenwell London.
Well, we are transforming the front room into a Voutsa oasis. Shirts, lots of silk and cotton scarves and accessories like pillows and totes. Fabulous robes, and a few surprises. A little bazaar….
Voutsa X Clerkenwell London will be on show with pieces available to buy in the front room at Clerkenwell London throughout all of September.