Today I’m taking you behind the scenes at Natural Curiosities, a Los Angeles art house bustling with energy and creativity, located in the colorful and culturally rich area of Echo Park, just northwest of Downtown LA. The building, which was originally built as a bowling alley, has also housed various Los Angeles area artists and musicians. Remnants of the building’s past still exist, most notable, the Egyptian mural painted on the wall which houses the company’s screen printing studio.
Natural Curiosities was founded nine years ago, when founder Christopher Wilcox arrived from England bringing with him more than 70,000 images with which to start his business. Since then Natural Curiosities has grown to a team of 25 artists and is sold in 18 countries around the globe. The art is created entirely in the United States and the wood frames used are also milled domestically. Each Natural Curiosities work of art exchanges several hands throughout the process, going from one application artist to the next, each adding onto the several layers that make each masterpiece. Even though their works of art may be manipulated digitally (oftentimes to play with scale), the several processes that follow ensure that the end result appears vintage and/or entirely hand done.
Last week, Natural Curiosities hosted an open house and lunch for Los Angeles interior designers, so I took advantage of the opportunity by bringing my camera and snapping up lots of photos.
The Natural Curiosities Gallery and Lounge Space
The Natural Curiosities multi purpose room, with a two story ceiling drenched with indirect sunlight, serves as both a lounge where people congregate to sit and enjoy the art that adorns the walls, as well as an open area for the in house application artists to meticulously apply the various processes that make up each Natural Curiosities work of art. These processes can include giclée, screen printing, gold leaf, copper etching, and more than 15 other processes – the list is constantly evolving. Creativity lives and thrives in every inch of the Natural Curiosities studio.
Inspiration to spark creativity is at every turn. On one shelf are bottles of every color, shape and size. Some with melted wax dripping down the sides of the bottles, others with feathers and leaves placed in the openings. From every angle a different perspective and a different situation to stimulate creativity in a variety of ways.
In the studio space upstairs are butterflies, leaves, flowers, and all sorts of specimens from nature – all of which will be incorporated into different Natural Curiosities works of art.
In the gallery and lounge space below, are instruments, and a vignette of vintage books, candles, shells, and minerals. Stimulation is everywhere in the Natural Curiosities studio – not only is there visual stimulation, but the music piping through the speakers triggers another emotion, and the scent of the candles burning and the hand picked flowers from Christopher Wilcox’s own garden provides yet another form of stimulation for the senses. Everything around triggers creativity and different emotions.
The Studio and Workspace
Above, application artists at work
The screen printing studio, where above are the painted Egyptian murals that once served as the backdrop of a 1920s art deco era bowling alley.
The Art Work
I have been fortunate enough to see Natural Curiosities in action several times over the past few months -at the Design Bloggers Conference, High Point Market, Dwell on Design, and just last week in their Echo Park studio.
On the right, a Natural Curiosities application artist in action in the studio, and on the left, the finished work of art as seen at High Point Market, complete with gold leaf.
On the left is the finished work as shown at High Point Market, and on the left is the application artist at work, meticulously applying one of the many processes that make up each Natural Curiosities work of art.
A makeshift studio area at the Natural Curiosities permanent showroom at High Point Market.
Below, more of Natural Curiosities at High Point Market.
And to top things off, below are Bravo TV’s Million Dollar Decorator cast members, Ross Cassidy and Jeffrey Alan Marks showing their affection for Natural Curiosities at the Design Bloggers Conference, held this past March in LA.
Natural Curiosities also has a full archive of artwork and inspiration, and has the capability to customize anything in their current line or archives.
Natural Curiosities is currently sold to the trade. Should you have any interest or need further information, you can contact me or the interior designer you are working with.
All photos were taken by me, Jeanne Chung. Feel free to use, but please credit and link back.