It is fascinating that the vibrant, joyous and stimulating patterns and colours we have come to associate with Frida Kahlo were bred from such a sad, difficult life.
Kahlo is known to have said, “I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint,” shining a bittersweet spotlight over her prolific portfolio, and over the iconic image she created of herself.
This image really is a product of self-creation, a concept to be explored in the imminent exhibition at the V&A, “Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up”
Kahlo’s work has itself become a genre; an archetype in design, fashion and art. So ingrained is her style as a point of cultural and aesthetic reference that I recently heard someone remark, “Ooh, very Frida!” walking past a well-known retailer’s window on Oxford Street.
What I find most appealing about her entire look (aside her ability to rock a flower crown better than anyone else) is her distinctive home.
La Casa Azul, in the Coyoacan neighbourhood, is painted accordingly, in a rich Klein-like blue that has come to somewhat supplant the Mexican national colours of green, white and red.
The photos of her interiors show a mishmash of sombre brown furniture, such as her famous, haunting four-poster bed, and contrasting wildly patterned, colourful throws, linens and curtains.
With the intense admiration and popularity surrounding Mexico’s most notable artist in the lead up to the V&A exhibition, in which ways can we incorporate this year’s must-have look into our homes? Below are my top picks for an instant Frida hit at home.
Jan Constantine is a British textile company known for its bold, hand-embroidered designs, offering an array of homewares from wall-hangings to cushions.
The new Tropical Paradise collection will give your home a true Frida-twist, particularly the Jan Constantine Frida Kahlo Cushion, complete with hand-embroidered unibrow.
Andrew Martin’s Hacienda collection is another great go-to for a range of Mexican-inspired fabrics. The mesmerising motifs of the Cruz fabrics work brilliantly on cushions for an accent of hibiscus pink or lush green.
For a larger-scale piece, why not try Sofa Workshop’s Miss Clementine sofa in in-house fabric, Firecracker? The Mexican-inspired fabric features an explosive floral motif in fiery oranges and reds, with contemporarily clashing pinks.
Floral prints are ever-present in Kahlo’s work and personal style, and this can be emulated in the home, too. Vita Copenhagen’s Aluvia lamp in saffron yellow, hung either singularly or as a cluster in the brand’s other distinctive colourways will make a design statement when the lights are on or off.
The structural pendant lamps are designed to look just as good turned off in the summer as they are when used more frequently in the winter.
The bottom line when creating a hacienda of your own is using deep colours, striking shapes and unlikely details.
Use throws and cushions to create layered colours and depth and source antique furniture for a sense of individuality.
Don’t be scared of clashing patterns, and lastly, don’t forget your flower crown.