You’ll Love the Unconventional Home Designs Of Libertine’s Johnson Hartig
He shakes the fashion world with his designs for Libertine; now, in collaboration with Schumacher, Johnson Hartig is taking us home.
His name has become synonymous with a culture- shaping fashion brand—with cheekiness, creativity, and the foresight to reimagine the past on the way to the future. But Johnson Hartig is more than co-founder, CEO, and creative director of Libertine. He’s also a prism, taking in inspiration and dispersing it into a spectrum that now includes home-transforming fabric and wallcovering designs with industry stalwart Schumacher.
Hartig describes his aesthetic as informed and informative, worldly and art driven, clever, and beautiful. It walks the fine line between intellectual and cheeky. And it resonates. “I’ll meet people that are hesitant; the clothes might be a little bit more bold than what they’re used to,” Hartig explains. He tells them they’ll never get more compliments than in his creations. He’s been chased through airports, interrupted in restaurants, had strangers cross streets to ask about what he’s wearing.
According to Schumacher’s creative director Dara Caponigro, unconventional vision is part of the company’s heritage. “Schumacher has a history of producing fabrics and wallpapers with a sophisticated but irreverent bent,” says Caponigro, who also notes their 1930 work with French fashion designer Paul Poiret. “Johnson Hartig shares Poiret’s joie de vivre.”
Hartig attributes his joyous designs to a life of exploration. “I started traveling with my parents when I was 14 years old,” he recalls. “I had this innate curiosity about how other people live.” Accordingly, the designs reflect global influences and reference Italian cities, Moroccan patterns, American folk art.
But the location that most shaped these designs may be Hartig’s home. “I treat my house like a laboratory. I take home Schumacher wallpapers that I’m working on and tape them up for months to make sure I love living with them before we produce them”. One Schumacher design was taken down when Hartig first put up Le Grand Tour—a trompe l’oeil arrangement of framed art. He embraces this state of perpetual transition. “I’m not very precious about anything. If I don’t like a paint color, I’ll paint it a different color the next day.”
Thus, Hartig’s home presented itself as the ideal place to photograph the new designs. “Having shot Johnson’s previous house for my book The Authentics, I knew it would be perfect,” says Caponigro. “Fun and a little kooky, but never kitsch.”
“I love visual stimulation, color, pattern. If things are too safe, my mind starts going crazy,” explains Hartig. As such, dense designs that result from hours of Hartig sitting with an associate rearranging elements can still surprise him. “That wallpaper Architecturra,” he says (see opening image). “Once that started being hung in one of my guest bedrooms, I was pleasantly surprised that it became almost Fornasetti-like.”
Hartig didn’t necessarily foresee his path leading here. “I wasn’t in painting classes thinking someday I’m going to be designing wallpaper,” he says. But he suspects education can’t substitute for what comes naturally. “Either you have this innate curiosity, or you don’t. And without it, I don’t know how you stand out from the crowd.”
So Hartig will continue to stand out. “Get ready,” he says, “because there are incredible new things coming.”