This New Design Show Will Make You Extremely Nostalgic

Sarah Choi
·3-min read
Photo credit: Joe Kramm, Courtesy of Fort Makers
Photo credit: Joe Kramm, Courtesy of Fort Makers

One of America’s most beloved children’s books, Goodnight Moonwritten by Margaret Wise Brown, with illustrations by Clement Hurd—has been brought to life thanks to the New York–based design studio and gallery Fort Makers.

Though the book was something of a sleeper hit when HarperCollins first published it in 1947 (a curmudgeonly librarian at the New York Public Library even banned the publication), it went on to sell millions of copies worldwide and to be cherished by many— including Fort Makers’ co-founders Nana Spears, Noah Spencer, and Naomi S. Clark. Their design-minded homage to the book, “Goodnight House,” reinterprets the bunny protagonist’s iconic “great green room” through more than 50 all-new artworks and objects by contemporary artists and designers.

The show, which runs through May 27, arrives at a time when we could all use a little nostalgic pick-me-up. “Personally, last summer and fall, I was thinking about how I wanted comfort, and when creating a show, I usually start off with color. That’s when the colors of the book were flashing through my mind,” recalls Spears, the show’s curator. “My hope is that people will respond to it in that way because there’s something so kind and visually striking about the book.”

Photo credit: Joe Kramm, Courtesy of Fort Makers
Photo credit: Joe Kramm, Courtesy of Fort Makers

Spears had a specific illustrator-like style in mind for the show and chose artists accordingly; she points to color-saturated, childlike gouache-on-paper paintings by the queer Chicanx artist Marcel Alcalá as an example. While Alcalá’s paintings weren’t exact replicas of the ones in the book, they were inspired by other children’s tales like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” “Only Marcel could have done [those paintings], at least in my mind,” Spears says. “He’s so playful and could play with the characters and make them different.”

The show also features a variation of Goodnight Moon’s red bed, reimagined by Liz Collins with a Memphis-y twist, quilt-like ceramic mugs and bowls by Shino Takeda, and charming candles of the book’s characters by artist Janie Korn (who also made the designers on ELLE Decor’s 2020 A-List into candle figurines). And, of course, the Fort Makers founders couldn’t help but contribute works themselves, including hand-carved wood cubes and a dollhouse-shaped light.

Photo credit: Joe Kramm, Courtesy of Fort Makers
Photo credit: Joe Kramm, Courtesy of Fort Makers

For Adam Frezza and Terri Chiao, the design couple behind Chiaozza, Goodnight Moon holds a special place in their hearts. “We’ve read the book many times to our child, and it was fun to re-examine the book with the lens of creating something inspired by the furniture in the book,” the pair told ELLE Decor in an email.

Working with the phrase “Goodnight, chairs” from the book, they created a rocker and three primary-colored small stools. Additionally, they crafted a cloud-shaped yellow bookcase and side table, all from paper pulp. “We sought to evoke the feelings we get from reading the book,” they continued. “Softness, coziness, and dreaminess.”

You can book an appointment for the exhibit here.

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