It’s been a long time since the tattoo made the shift from edgy outlier statement to ubiquitous accessory. Though designer Colette van den Thillart can’t take credit for inventing the “tattooed wall,” she uses it to great effect — alongside other decorating techniques — in her New York City pied-à-terre. She was inspired by a visit to Santo Sospir, the French Riviera villa with walls that were famously inscribed with scenes from Greek mythology by artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau (who called the house a “tattooed villa”).
Colette asked New York artist Kenneth Widener to paint Cocteau-style “tattoos” to complement an eclectic 1,000-square-foot apartment already packed with artwork. Much like inked skin, these works turn an ordinary surface into an outlet for artistic expression. One crucial difference, especially in Colette’s Chelsea rental: a tattooed wall can be easily eradicated when it’s time for a change.
“To me, spaces are autobiographical,” says Colette. “With all of my clients, I want the space to say something about them and, with personal spaces, I want them to say something about us and our family.”
Scroll down to step inside the designer’s artful residence.