Lisa Simeone and Gina Deary – Art Drives the Built Environment


October 5, 2022

Most interior designers have their known aesthetic. Lisa Simeone and Gina Deary, principals of Chicago-based KTGY Simeone Deary Design Group, have spent more than two decades curating the true soul of each individual design with unexpected art. What makes their process unique, however, is the way in which they incorporate art as an installation. and how they collaborate with artists and the built environment. Installation art is a term used to describe artwork located in the three-dimensional interior space. Simeone and Deary have spent years honing the craft of using installation art as a vehicle to inform a complete, unified experience. Below, Simeone and Deary share how to create this symbiotic relationship with art, the artist and the built environment resulting in a truly articulate, thoughtful design.

Define locale: While the interior design, materiality, color palette and experience should speak to the location of a project, tailoring the art to reflect the local terrain and history can also direct the narrative and the guest experience overall. At Wyoming’s Brush Creek Ranch Resort, KTGY SDDG collaborated with the White family and London Artist Mark Evans to model the American West Legacy with a fresh perspective by producing an installation representative of the family’s dedication to the authenticity and preservation of the land. The American Bald Eagle was chosen as the subject of the installation. The eagle was meticulously photographed then transferred by way of knife carving the chosen image into an 8×10 hand-etched leather panel. Each feather was carved into the panel then glazed with hundreds of hues. The result is a breathtaking homage to the centennial of the west.

This is also the case in the firm’s project JW Marriott Charlotte, where Artist Windy Chien created an intricate knotted rope installation in the Oyster Bar that spotlights key elements of the coastline’s business of oyster farming. Windy studied the art of fishing knots and applied them to a dramatic bar and wall installation highlighting the artist in the craft of oyster farming on the Carolinian coast.

Evaluate the boundaries: Art can and should offer creative freedom that challenges convention and pushes the limits of expected design practices. While a well-designed interior experience offers form and function for guests to rest in a lobby or hotel room, art has the ability to speak with a more daring and provocative tone, which can ignite conversation. Such is the case with the over-scaled Dripping Art framed pieces at Georgia’s Buckhead InterContinental Resort, another KTGY SDDG hotel project, designed by Artist Niki Zarrabi. Taking inspiration from classic southern-inspired botanicals, the artist and design team created the idea of “tradition with a twist.” Beginning with an original giclee on canvas of the Cherokee Rose—Georgia’s state flower—the traditional piece was turned on its ear by having it drip and grow out of the frame in all directions. Because of the enormous scale and unexpected style of the pieces, they have become the centerpiece of the lobby lounge.

Think sustainable: Where possible, it is always important to consider sustainability and how to give back to the environment, both with the interior design and with art collaborations. For KTGY SDDG’s Yours Truly project in Washington, DC, the team collaborated with Artist Lauren Williams to build a beautiful, environmentally friendly macrame art installation. The ombre pattern and materials support the rich tapestry of bohemian counterculture historically founded in the local landscape.

Whether supporting emerging talent or acquiring well-known names to craft unforeseen art moments that punctuate the design, Simeone and Deary look to each installation as a distinct focal point that tells a memorable story and engages the community to celebrate the built environment.