A Trip Down Iconic Memory Lane

Catherine Davin, ASID
Aug 10, 2020

I need an escape from the heaviness of 2020, so I'm sharing a few fun memories that involve iconic art or design. As a lover of all-things creative, I adore learning about quintessential, recognizable works of art. It's not only about the photo, the pattern, or the design – it's just as much about the background as to why it became what it is.

Take a trip down my “iconic memory lane” with a few of my favorites below.


Mick Jagger + Schumacher’s Queen of Spain Wallcovering

One of my beloved prints – Schumacher’s Queen of Spain – happens to be a favorite of Mick Jagger, too. Photographed in 1966, Jagger decorated his New York apartment in the black version of the wallpaper and drapery fabric.

We’ve used the classic pattern in client homes over the years. I love it so much, we have a wall of our Pittsburgh design studio papered in the Warm Silver colorway.


Nelda Linsk in Poolside Gossip

Back in February, I attended Modernism Week in Palm Springs (feels like ages ago!). I had the chance to meet Nelda Linsk, who is featured in Slim Aaron’s famous Poolside Gossip photograph. Wearing yellow, Nelda chats with her friend Helen Dzo Dzo Kaptur in the casual elegance that embodies Slim Aaron’s work. The image is even used as the cover for his coffeetable book, entitled Slim Aarons: Women.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com.

Nelda spoke with our group about the day the photo was taken. They were all friends, and Slim stopped by with his camera for some poolside shots. He snapped the photos organically – no wardrobe or stylists, no lighting or assistants. Just a real-life peek into the everyday fabulousness of Nelda and her crew.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the now very famous photo. Here’s Nelda with me and my wonderful designer friends (Bruce, Brooke, Nelda, Meghan, me) from Palm Springs in February. Great memories!


Robert Loughlin & The Brute

The Brute, featured in paintings by Robert Loughlin, is another fun memory from a Palm Springs trip. My friends and I kept noticing a heavy-browed character popping up around town. We spotted a version of The Brute (we later discovered as his very-appropriate moniker) everywhere, from vintage art stores to a diner breakfast menu.

Image courtesy of Johnson Trading Gallery.

This mysterious man has a very cool backstory – the “real-life” brute is Gary Carlson, Robert Loughlin’s partner of 31 years. They met at Boots & Saddles in NYC during the 80s, when Loughlin began painting his cigarette-dangling muse. After Loughlin passed in 2011, Carlson carried on his legacy, and continues to share and authenticate the unique versions of his cartoon-self.

The Brute has become a popular icon in the modern-day art world. According to a 2015 article in The New York Times, “Sean MacPherson, the hotelier behind the Marlton and the Ludlow, is a collector of Robert Loughlins. So is William Sofield, the designer of Tom Ford’s stores and David Barton’s gyms. Oribe, the well-known hairstylist, has a pile of them, including a tattoo of the Brute on his arm.”