Designer Interview

Inside Mitchell Black’s Design for the Obsidian Concept House

Lynai Jones is the owner of Mitchell Black, an award-winning home décor and textile brand. She recently participated in the Obsidian Virtual Concept House by Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG), designed to showcase the living and dwelling experiences of black families.

Jones spoke to STARK about the room she designed, her artistic process, and how the interior design community can better highlight and celebrate black voices.

 

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'Escape' by Mitchell Black
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Lynai Jones

Designer

Where did the process of designing this room begin for you?
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'Escape' by Mitchell Black

I love movies and I have probably watched at least one movie a week with my kids for decades. Our favorite outing is to the local luxury movie theatre where we can lounge and eat while watching the latest films. My goal was to have that experience replicated but to take it up a notch with suede sconces, individual sitting pods and high-end carpeting. 

How did Obsidian House, with the concept of living spaces for black families, inform your design choices?
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I designed the home cinema as a space that would suit the needs of most families. The layout and furniture placement is specific to the needs of a multi-generational family of six to eight. As a wallpaper and textile designer, my first goal was to illustrate how complementary patterns could live harmoniously in the same small space. I then looked to what custom pieces I could add from my source list of black creators in BADG.  One standout seating choice is the Milo chair by fellow BADG member Marie Burgos. Its comfortable seat with contemporary lines and striking detail was the perfect complement to my textile design.

‘Escape’ as a name is pretty dramatic and can be interpreted a few ways. Did the name inform the design or vice versa? What does the name ‘Escape’ mean to you?

The idea of leaving one realm and entering another can create a sense of adventure, excitement and vast, if unknown, possibilities. That idea informed the function of the space as well as the design aspects, hence the name, “Escape”.  Many cultures share the experience of making an escape as a means of seeking a better existence. When you enter the cinema at Obsidian House, the experience to come is dictated by the space and what is viewed on screen. It is not necessarily a trauma or act of survival, but it certainly is an opportunity to experience a new adventure.  

 
The distinct goal of the project was to reflect how black families of the future might live by incorporating specific cultural practices, philosophies and priorities in every aspect of its design.
The color palette of the room gives it a sense of tranquility. How early in the process of designing this room did you develop the color scheme, and did it inform how you further decorated the space?
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I imagined a totally black room – devoid of color and light to provide a cocoon-like setting where whatever is being watched on the screen would not need to compete for the full attention of the viewer. My next thought was that the room should also be comfortable and beautiful when the lights were on! Texture and style became a priority at that point for the entire space. I looked to STARK for the perfect carpet and found it in the 100% silk broadloom Halia carpet. The Halia carpet in Gunmetal colorway was the perfect foundation for the comfy cocoon I was trying to create.

Can you speak to the importance of the Obsidian House, of an entire house being conceptualized to showcase the living and dwelling experiences of black families? How can the interior design community work to highlight and celebrate black voices and the black experience?
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The distinct goal of the project was to reflect how black families of the future might live by incorporating specific cultural practices, philosophies and priorities in every aspect of its design.

Obsidian House by BADG is a showcase of the talent that exists in the interior design and artist community that is often overlooked. Each of the 20+ black designers and creators brought their unique version of the black perspective to the design of their individual space.

My hope is that the design community will actively broaden the pool of creative sources they employ in creating their own design projects. The design community can prioritize consistent inclusion of black artists, designers and makers in their work. We can hire black architects to create innovative dwellings, or black interior designers to create gorgeous homes. Designers can up their design game by sourcing textiles, furniture and sculptures from black artists.