The great 20th-century French couturiere Jeanne Lanvin is crediting with proclaiming that “art and fashion are one.” It’s a credo that readily applies to the work of Casi Francis. As a full-time interior designer, Francis works with her mother, interior designer Penny Francis of Eclectic Home, creating beautiful rooms. As an artist, she creates original renderings of those spaces that stand on their own.
Francis began taking drawing and painting classes as a child. At the same time, she watched her mother’s passion for interior design and developed a love for fashion. She obtained her BFA from the Savannah College of Art & Design in Georgia, where studies in fine art, illustration and architecture led her to pursue a career in interior design instead of fashion. Influenced by the works of such legendary names as designer Elsie de Wolfe and illustrators Jeremiah Goodman and Alfredo Bouret, who all drew or painted original portraits of interiors, she cultivated her own illustration style.
“In the beginning, I was doing furniture renderings of chairs and armoires,” she says. “Then, I began doing rooms and fashion images from New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week or from books. They’re very girly, sometimes whimsical and they’re timeless.”
Creating something by hand gives Francis a much-needed break from the technicality and artificiality of computer-generated images, which she regularly produces for her design work. “Sometimes you can’t really show what you want to show digitally,” she says. “It’s too perfect. I feel like hand renderings are a lost art form, so I wanted to showcase how beautifully detailed they are.”
Usually, her pieces are acrylic or mixed media – though she sometimes works with pen and ink, watercolor or charcoals – and she says she’s currently in “a Baroque, very French phase.”
Francis’ art is not just linked to the history of interior illustrations. Like her ancestry (which includes her maternal great-grandmother whose grave is in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 next to Marie Laveau’s), it’s also rooted in the history of New Orleans. Yet her fresh perspective appeals to today’s sensibility.
“There’s no history and culture better than here,” she says. “I’m trying to inspire other locals and get them to appreciate what we live amongst.”
Casi Francis’s “Render Me Pretty” renderings (furnishings, rooms, fashion portraits) are at Eclectic Home and are available by commission.
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