How Ellen Van Dusen Scored Her Zany, Cartoon-Like Chandelier
It pays to be friends with artist Katie Stout.
Published Aug 30, 2019 6:00 AM
“Ceilings are the deserts of rooms,” artist Katie Stout proclaims. She’s not wrong, as they’re typically pretty sparse places (unless you decide to cover them in wallpaper or paint). So when designer Ellen Van Dusen asked Stout to make a light fixture for her home, of course, she suggested a larger-than-life chandelier.
What she delivered: A massive, four-legged ceramic pendant that looks like an alien artifact, contrasting sharply with the Victorian-era ceiling of Van Dusen’s home, which was built in 1889. “It ties everything together,” says the designer. “The first thing you do when you walk in is look up.”
Stout’s creation was the fruit of many labors. First, she visited Van Dusen’s home to scope out the proper color scheme and the scale of the room—the fixture’s green canister was added at the last-minute as the final punctuation. “My process is very open, so if I get the feeling that altering something will give it more of that click you get when you know something is working, then I will go ahead and change it even if it’s the fifth time it’s been changed and beyond rationale,” she says.
After bringing the design to life in her studio, the artist oversaw the surprisingly calm transportation and installation of the final product. “Ellen picked up the chandelier herself with her brother and friend, and we all walked it out to her Prius as a processional,” she says. “It’s as close to a religious experience as I’ve ever had.”
The end result is whimsical and playful but also functional—Stout points out that large-scale chandeliers can balance a room, “since most objects are on the floor, it can create a nice spatial frame.” Partnered with her colorful abstract art collection, Van Dusen agrees that it’s pretty much a match made in design heaven, “Now,” she says, “I have the luxury of living with it every day.”