Stark Designs for Fun – and West Elm
When David Stark 91 PT moved to New York shortly after graduation, he expected to follow the path of many fellow art school grads. He would paint – alone in his studio – whenever he could and support himself by waiting tables and doing floral arrangements. What he didn’t expect is that his abiding love of flowers coupled with his exacting eye for design would lead him out of the studio and into the world of event planning.
Today Stark is president and principal designer of David Stark Design and Production, a Brooklyn-based firm with a reputation for producing high-concept, art-infused parties and special events around the world – from New York, Boston and Minneapolis, to Jerusalem, Tokyo and beyond. He employs a creative team of 25 to help juggle the complex details and logistics of producing extraordinary events for celebrities like Beyoncé, Tony Bennett, Glenn Close, Michael J. Fox, Arianna Huffington and Jon Stewart; corporate clients such as Benjamin Moore, Target, Versace and Louis Vuitton; and nonprofits like the Metropolitan Opera, MoMA and New Yorkers for Children.
Stark recently added a new twist to his art-making by designing a line of holiday décor and accessories – made from 100% natural and recycled materials – for the West Elm stores. Commissioned to add his inimitable touch to the 2009 grand opening of the company’s 1870 Broadway location in Manhattan, he designed stunning large-scale cacti, topiary, vases and other sculptural pieces made from recycled catalogues and corrugated cardboard. Shortly after the event, the company’s owner, Alex Bates, suggested Stark design a line for West Elm. It did so well that it sold out by Thanksgiving, so this year he’s back with a new 2010 holiday line, which will be followed by yet another line for spring.
“We’ve always admired David’s talent for taking humble materials like cardboard and paper and repurposing them as witty and wonderful objects,” West Elm noted in announcing the new collection. In his latest book, David Stark Design (which follows two others), Stark summarizes why he loves what he does: “I’m really lucky. I wake up every day and jump onto a rollicking roller coaster of art-making. Yet, the art that I make is not what many might recognize as art. It’s not a romantic, lone act performed in a garret. It does not end up for sale in a gallery…. The art that I create with the incredible team at my namesake firm makes people impossibly happy, perhaps more so than the kind of art people collect. Why? Because this art masquerades as a party, a magical environment in which people have FUN, pure and simple.”