Whether the objet d'art is a rug, a dress or an interior, if Doug and Gene Meyer designed it, it's likely to feature a graphic, jarring-yet-subtle interplay of color. "It's a real discipline," Gene says of the color selection process. "We don't like anything to look too pretty."
It's fitting that the multitalented brothers chose the sprawling Longue Vue House and Gardens (itself a multidisciplinary collusion of murals, landscape architecture, paintings and interior design) as the site for a retrospective installation. The opening reception is from 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31 at Longue Vue (7 Bamboo Road; 504-488-5488) and the installation will be on the site through March 31. The brothers shared a few words about color, design and what the installation holds in store for visitors.
What is the concept behind the installation?
Doug: It's 2042 and Edith Stern (the philanthropist who once owned the house) is growing restless. She wants to jazz up Longue Vue, so she decided to call Doug and Gene. We created a site-specific installation with a huge mirrored cube in the middle of this room. Everything else has been removed. The windows are completely clear of any covering, so it brings in the famous gardens all reflecting in the huge box. We take the design from the rug and continue it onto the floor and wall. On either side, there are mirrors which reflect one another, creating an infinity field. So you see this design forever.
You're known for your bold colors, but the palette at Longue Vue is rather subdued. Was that a design challenge?
Gene: That was the great part; we could pop our colorful things in the interior and it would stand out. There are a lot of charming things in this house. It has been a perfect foil for us, and the architecture itself is very grand and pure.
So you liked working with the more muted neutrals?
Gene: You get bored of certain combinations. If things are too pretty, we throw in an odd, dirty color. You can't just throw all bright colors out there, because they compete with each other. If you throw subdued neutrals or ugly or gray colors in, it punches everything up.
Doug: We are colorists, but we are very subtle, althought it doesn't look that way because there are so many bold, vibrant colors. It's how the colors are combined. A huge thought process goes into the selection.
As brothers, do you ever clash when working together?
Doug: We both have strong beliefs, and if Gene feels one way and I feel another, we have to fight for our idea.
Gene: Sometimes we get a little heated with each other. Brothers can do that. But in the end, we go with the strongest design.
Why do you feel so passionately about color?
Gene: I realized very early on how powerful and beautiful colors are. When you have the right colors, it takes something to a different level. Even people who aren't designers see there's something going on. It transcends disciplines. People respond to color, and I think that is because nature is very colorful: blue skies and green grass and flowers of a million colors. ... I think this beige-black thing is kind of sad. People are missing a lot when they are not playing with color in their life.