When designer and curator Lisa Perry heads to the office from her home on Long Island’s East End, she drives some 20 minutes to Onna House, the Zen modernist home originally built for the well-known Pop Art collectors Robert and Ethel Scull, in 1962. There, at the home she overhauled with Brooklyn-based practice Harper Design + Build, she is surrounded by works of art and design objects, all of which flaunt the imprint of female talents—think a multimedia book installation seemingly plucked from a vintage library by Julie Wolfe, Kelly Behun’s sleek, ebonized, ash and cast metal table, and geometry-patterned glazed ceramics from Sabra Moon Elliot. As of May 28, the public is invited to tour Onna House and see Perry’s personal collection up close.
With its East Hampton residential location, Onna House, a steel and glass landmark courtesy of the late architect Paul Lester Wiener, is not a traditional gallery. Rather, it’s an intimate gallery-like experience presented in a “fresh, new way,” Perry told AD PRO. It is also an organic outgrowth of her own thoughtfully assembled collection of artworks that are unavailable for purchase by visitors. “It was important for me to first go to every single one of these artists and say, ‘I believe in your work, so I’m buying your work, and I’m going to start collecting your work, and one day we will have a show of more of your work.’”
There is hope that, eventually, artists from all disciplines will come to roost at Onna House, sleeping in the guesthouse during residencies or making collaborative works with fellow creators for a day amid the natural landscape. Each of the bedrooms in the home were intentionally transformed to accommodate communal spaces. After all, Onna House is meant to serve as a collective, “a studio to meet and hang out with people,” as Perry puts it.
Kicking off the Onna House events calendar and running through June 25 is “Listening to the Thread,” an exhibition of dreamy, woven tapestries by Kyoto-bred Mitsuko Asakura, complemented by jewelry, mirrors, and contemplative paper dresses from multidisciplinary Geneva artist Ligia Dias. “This is the first gallery show I’ve ever done in my life,” Perry points out.