One of Philly’s Top Commercial Designers Has a Living Room Ready for You

And it can be yours if you submit the right bids at the 2021 InLiquid Benefit auction.

InLiquid benefit auction 2021 floss barber living room rendering

Designer Floss Barber’s rendering of the plan for her design vignette living room at this year’s InLiquid Benefit auction. | Rendering: Floss Barber

At this year’s InLiquid “The Benefit” auction, one of Philadelphia’s top interior designers has a living room ensemble you can make your own.

Floss Barber, whose work includes the inventive design for the Fairfield Inn by Marriott in Washington Square West, has teamed up with the Duval Art Consultancy and CP Lighting to produce a curated collection of items that together form a design line Barber is calling “Women I Have Known.”

Barber says inspiration for the product line comes from women who have influenced her through the years as well as products she’s found in the course of her travels around the world.

Some of the items bear the names of women who have left a deep impression on Barber, like her Aunt Maryanne, whose vegetable gardens served as the inspiration for the Nepalese carpet on the floor of the room, or her design mentor, Mary Epstein, in whose honor the bench seats are named. The first four items in the product line, including the Poitrona Frau sofa and the delicate Murano Italian glasses, have been combined with artwork by Barber herself and her design team to produce a colorful and comfortable living room.

The works of art on the walls are part corporate, part personal. The repeating leaf-pattern paintings come from items Barber’s design team produced for casino projects, while the calaveras above the sofa represent a particular passion of Barber herself.

“I began painting calaveras in late 2019 and early 2020 as a reaction to the nationalism that was going on in the United States,” says Barber. “I went to Mexico, to Tulum, and I fell in love with the people and the jungle and the colors and the textiles and the imagery,” especially the decorated skulls produced for the annual Day of the Dead celebration.

“And I almost compulsively started painting these things, and I wanted them to represent all people,” she says. Religious symbolism, especially Christian but also Buddhist, Zen, Native American and Caribbean spiritual traditions, forms a common thread tying together all the calaveras in the collection, including a 12-piece central skull titled “Don’t worry, be happy.”

What led Barber to make a living room out of all this was the room display Meg Rogers put together for last year’s benefit. “I said to Rachel” — InLiquid executive director Rachel Zimmerman — “‘I want to do it this year,’” Barber explains. “So Meghan, my daughter, and I started thinking about this collection of pieces.”

InLiquid benefit auction 2021 Chris Poehlmann design vignette

Chris Poehlmann’s InLiquid design vignette | Photo: InLiquid

Completing the ensemble is a one-of-a-kind light fixture from lighting designer Chris Poehlmann, who was also inspired to install his own “home office” display in the InLiquid gallery at Crane Arts in South Kensington.

This is the third year that InLiquid has invited local artists and designers to put together “design vignettes” — rooms that showcase their work and design sensibility. All of the items on display in the rooms can be bid on separately, including each individual calavera in the Barber living room.

In addition to walking out with a fully realized living room, benefit attendees have the opportunity to bid on works of art from more than 200 emerging and established artists across the region. These local artists are InLiquid’s reason for being: The organization works to find novel ways for them to display and promote their work in spaces throughout the city. By doing so, InLiquid also promotes the idea that original artwork should grace every home. And by offering works at a wide range of price points, the organization brings art within reach of a wider range of collectors, in keeping with its motto, ”Everyone Is a Collector.”

“This year, more than ever, we need art,” Zimmerman says in a news release. “We need it as a form of expression for all of the things we are feeling, we need it as a bridge to connect with others after a year of isolation, we need it as a statement of our priorities and aspirations in times of difficulty and even desperation, and most literally, we need it to fill the walls that we’ve been staring at all day every day.”

This year’s benefit will be a socially distanced affair: While bidders and visitors can view the works on display in the galleries at Crane Arts, 1400 North American Street, through Sunday, April 11th, by appointment, both viewing and the actual bidding will take place on the Givesmart platform. To reserve a time to view the items up for bid in person, visit InLiquid’s benefit page on Calendly. Lower-priced items that remain available after the auction closes may be purchased through Shop InLiquid online.