Designer Lisa Turner Creates a Big Hit for Stevie Wonder

The music icon inspired a colorful, multi-textured Music Room at Greystone's Design House International.

Stevie Wonder photo ©iStockphoto.com/EdStock
Music Room photo by Vanessa Martin Guidon
The Stevie Wonder-inspired Music Room at Greystone's Design House International included a Yamaha Grand Disklavier piano with Fendi Casa stools alongside so those who inevitably gather to hear him play will be comfortable. Room designer Lisa Turner created the intriguing musical instrument sculpture on the wall.

It isn’t often that a room in a design house moves people to tears, but that’s exactly what happened when some visitors stepped into the Stevie Wonder-inspired Music Room at Greystone’s Design House International. Not only did designer Lisa Turner fill the room with magnificent pieces related to the music icon, but she arranged to have a rotation of 50 of his greatest hits playing on the Yamaha Grand Disklavier piano, creating an audio, as well as a visual experience.“People associated the room with the things that happened to them when the song they heard was a hit," she explained. “I hope they were tears of happiness.”

Those who visited on closing night got an extra treat; Stevie Wonder himself was on hand, enjoying the room and playing the Yamaha piano (a brand he personally requested). For about two hours he sang, laughed and and took pictures with colleagues and fans.

You're probably imagining the complications of designing a room to please someone who is visually impaired. But Turner was up to the challenge. She had designed for Wonder previously, as well as celebrities such as Pauletta and Denzel Washington, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jill Scot, Motown Records and Spike Lee, just to name a few.

For Wonder, she describes colors by the feelings they evoke. The walls of the Music Room were painted in one of his favorites — a royal/cobalt blue. “I described it as a royal, deep, cool water color,” Turner explained. “I think of him as a very royal person.”

Photo by Vanessa Martin Guidon Turner designed blue swivel chairs of soft velvet with leather piping for diversity of texture, and made them high-backed, giving them the royal throne feeling she says is befitting Stevie Wonder. His label, Universal Motown, provided 40 of his U.S. album covers, which Turner had framed and hung.

Turner knows that texture is also very important to this particular client, and uses it as much as possible in the rooms she creates for him. For example, she designed blue swivel chairs of soft velvet with leather piping for diversity of texture, and made them high-backed, giving them a royal throne-like feeling.

She also found a remarkable golden bowl, or "Vessel," a one-of-a-kind piece by Schlanser, that has Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech etched in it. "Many people don't know that Stevie Wonder was a big part of the campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a national holiday," Turner added.

Among the room's other strikingly tactile features was the three-dimensional wall sculpture Turner designed herself, welding together 15 wind instruments. The piece was so popular she plans on making more to sell to other prominent clients.

Turner even created a table with texture. The room's main focal point was a round table she designed of brass and quartz crystals that you can touch and feel. "It's almost like a piece of jewelry," she said. In the center, she placed an African bust by American artist Woodrow Nash, who has made extensive studies of African tribal themes and describes his sculptures as “African Nouveau.”

Photo by Vanessa Martin Guidon Artist Woodrow Nash created this six-foot-tall, stately ceramic “Spirit” sculpture with a tribally painted face and a robe made of chains of ceramic beads. Turner herself designed the elongated Ashanti bench against the window, specifically for this room.

Nash was also responsible for two of the Music Room's grand, six-foot-tall ceramic “Spirits.” With tribally painted faces, they were draped in robes made of chains of ceramic beads. Weighing in at 300 pounds each, they were extremely heavy and difficult to move. So it came as quite the surprise when Turner entered the room one morning and found that one of the sculptures had moved about six inches. Could it be the work of one of the ghosts of Greystone? “If we come in one morning and find the Spirits sitting at the table, we’re locking the door and going home!” Turner joked.

In addition, Turner created a collection of 40 of Wonder’s U.S. album covers, framed and covering an entire wall. Wonder’s label, Universal Motown, made this possible by supplying all the albums. Other room-specific creations included two Ashanti benches, which Turner elongated, against the arched windows.

Now the Titan who inspires the designer's room typically gets first dibs on the furnishings after the show has wrapped, so you can bet that some of the items in Turner's room will eventually make their way into Wonder's collection. But if you'd like to find out about availabilities, or see more of Turner's work, you can easily contact her via her website, InteriorObsession.com.  

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