The Yellow Magnolia Café is an eatery within the Brooklyn Botanical Garden that was opened in 2017. Designed by The Rockwell Group, operated by Patina Restaurant Group and led by chef, Rob Newton, this café provides garden-goers with a stellar pairing to go with the beautiful sights and scenes one has come to expect from Brooklyn Botanical. Adjacent to Prospect Park and a 3 minute walk from the Brooklyn Museum, the area is a hotspot for tourists and long-time New Yorkers alike.
When The Rockwell Group came to us back in 2016, They were looking for a statement piece in their newly renovated Yellow Magnolia Café which would highlight the garden's signature flowers; cherry blossoms and a yellow magnolia called the “Elizabeth,” a vigorous tree with yellow flowers which was developed at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
In keeping with the theme of the garden, the wallpaper design I came up with was inspired by the distinct, signature yellow flowers of the garden. The final arrangement was layered in such a way that would speak to the gorgeous textures, colors and motifs that one can find when walking through the garden. Printed on Maya Romanoff felt equipped with sound-absorbing qualities and with additional sewn accents by Daniel Tillman from C3 Design, the horizontal piece adds a rich softness & stillness in the space. Installed opposite a beautiful sun-lit glass atrium with views of the garden, the piece cohesively blends the café’s interior with its exterior.
The process wasn't always so rosy however. This was the first time I worked with paneled fabric so printing registration was initially an issue. In order to solve this, we ended up taping down each panel of the wallpaper when printing so that the fabric would not move at all during the process and the image would render sharp and clear. We also needed to experiment with different colors to make sure that the contrast would render well on the final fabric. Finally, while the piece is substantial in length, its height was only 3 feet, so the information embedded within the image needed to be balanced enough so as to not make the design look crowded. In order to overcome this busyness, we added several visual pauses throughout the mural which served to call attention to the gorgeous dimensional felt flowers sewn by Daniel Tilman.
This was also the first time I had ever worked with felt, both as a surface for printing and as a dimensional, accented embellishment. This commission encouraged me to think about how a wallcovering could in fact be a genuine piece of art and inspired me to start creating more large-scale murals that were not confined by repeat patterns. The process gave birth to many future projects that incorporated hand-sewn felt accents and I look forward to continually utilizing them in my work moving forward.
There were several co-collaborators in this project that made it unique including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Yellow Magnolia Café, Rockwell Group, Maya Romanoff and Daniel Tillman and it was amazing to work on such an innovative project for such an iconic New York destination.
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