Designer and artist Anna Wolfson defines herself as both a natural builder and a practitioner of wabi-sabi. The former refers to her dedication to using locally available, minimally processed materials like clay, straw and wood to create one-of-a-kind wallcoverings, light fixtures and furnishings. The latter concerns her embrace of the Japanese aesthetic that encourages, among other things, the acceptance of imperfection.
“The materials I work with have characteristics that I can’t overcome so I appreciate the uniqueness of each thing for what it is,” she says. A Chicago native, Wolfson claims her clay plaster wallcovering techniques are one way she engages architects and designers in her philosophy.
“The texture is unparalleled and the way it catches the light turns any space into an artwork,” says the artist, who is currently fabricating light fixtures for the ENO wine bars in San Francisco and in Washington, D.C. “They are large hanging sculptures made from the staves of salvaged wine barrels.” Like all her work, these objects, charred on one side for an ebony effect, allow the uniqueness of the material to come through.
LX: I became interested in wallcoverings when:
AW:I studied installation art in college, which is telling stories through creating spaces. I was fascinated exploring how much emotional and narrative information can be embedded in the spatial relationships, textures and lighting in an intentionally designed space.
LX: Favorite decorating sources:
AW:I don’t buy much decoration, but when I do, it’s typically fine handmade wares from Asrai Garden in Wicker Park. When I want to simply walk around a store for hours, I enjoy such salvage warehouses as Urban Remains in the Ukrainian Village.
LX: Dream dinner party guests:
AW:Jad Abumrad, co-host of Radiolab; Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, my favorite author; Roald Dahl, whose stories keep me smiling; masonry sculptor Thea Alvin; Maya Romanoff, local legend whose textile art and wall finishes inspire me immensely, and Takashi Sugimoto, president of Japanese design firm Super Potato.
LX: Go-to host gift:
AW:Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine is my favorite place to pick up an amazing bottle of wine because each one always has an interesting story and excellent quality.
LX: Greatest indulgence:
AW:I go to Allyu Spa, get an amazing deep tissue massage, bathe in the most beautiful showers in the city, relax in the meditation room and gaze at the stunning textures on every single surface.