Teena Leonardi over the years has created bright watercolor silk hangings for homes and resorts, and she has sold her textile designs to fashion designers. She recently teamed up with Kim Kieler of Kim3 International Furnishings to create Art Shades by Leonardi, a line of whimsical silk and linen shades paired with vintage bases dating from 1900 to 1970. With period lamp bases ranging from Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern, Eames Era, Hollywood Regency, chalkware and all variety of Retro, Art Shades has caught on with designers and homeowners alike, acting as original art that works for everyday living. “They’re something I hope people have fun with,” says Leonardi.
Art Shades unites unique bases with one-of-a-kind lampshades that Leonardi has painted to complement the style of the base. The variety and types of bases – and the eye-popping shades – are very likely to cause ooohs and aaahs. Some are funky, like a bulbous cork base or a ceramic one that’s a glazed volcanic-like orange. The wood, metal and Lucite bases tend to be architectural. “The vintage lamp bases are friendly and wonderful discoveries, like unexpectedly running into friends,” enthuses Kieler. “Because Teena hand-paints a shade for each lamp, they are true works of art.”
“When designing Art Shades I am inspired by illumination and beauty. For me, it’s a very playful process,” Leonardi says about creating the lights, which end up being conversation pieces. “I am continuously mixing colors to get a shade that matches the base.”Her palette includes deep blues and greens, vibrant reds, electric violets and warm golds, to name a few. Many of the shades change color when the light is turned on. One shade, for example, is a vibrant red when lit and a cool brown when it’s off.
In matching the shade to the personality of the base, Leonardi not only pays attention to color but she also comes up with complementary shapes. She might pleat the shade or make it oval instead of circular. For a lamp with a Chinese figurine base, she designed a pagoda-shaped shade and even put red rickrack trim on it, finishing it with a dangling red crystal at each corner. “The shade should blend beautifully with the base,” she says.The finials are another of Leonardi’s creative expression. She makes them out of vintage items, like decorative knobs; found objects, including shells; and decorative accessories sourced from around the globe.The bases, too, have a worldly pedigree. There are vintage Brazilian, French, Danish, Australian and Chinese lamp bases in the collection, though most are American. The vintage ceramic and porcelain bases are one-offs, purchased at auctions, antiques stores and elsewhere.
Kieler imports fine furniture, antiques and art from Denmark, Sweden, Brazil, France, China, Thailand, Bali, the Philippines, New Zealand, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, India, and Tibet. Kieler has represented Leonardi as an artist since opening Kim3 International Furnishings in 1994. Like Kieler, Leonardi is an inveterate traveler, and her silk paintings, inspired by her extensive journeys abroad, express her love of natural themes and her spiritual side. Large-scale leaves, lotus flowers and trees, as well as Oriental motifs, painted in water color on large swathes of silk as tall as 20 feet, create a meditative quality that has earned Leonardi a big following in California.
Art Shades by Leonardi are sold at Kim3 International Furnishings and retail for $350 to $3,200.