Photos courtesy of r. LUSK Studios
Tucked amongst locksmith, auto repair and sign shops, a tattoo parlor, a kitchen and bath showroom and an HVAC supply company near Virginia Beach’s Town Center is a small business of a different ilk. r. LUSK Studios is Coastal Virginia’s answer to an old-school atelier under the direction of principal master, Reese Lusk.
Since 2003, this studio-based boutique firm has specialized in art, ornament and design with an emphasis on color, texture and form. Though a mural commission started it all, this artisanal business has grown organically to produce fine architectural finishes, wall décor, furniture and soft goods.
With a BFA in painting, a minor in art history and a love of international travel, Lusk’s original pattern-based designs are inspired by architectural details, global textiles, antique book illustrations and more. His palette is informed by the natural world, from animal coverings to rocks and minerals to fruits and vegetables.
Working with one full-time artist and a handful of artists and artisans “on call,” Lusk’s design language is immediately recognizable in his richly gilded textiles, small occasional tables and pillows, all hand-made to order. Serving, in part, as a resource to the design trade, r. LUSK has also become known for unique solutions to tricky design challenges.
Lusk’s partner in life and in business, Becky Bump, is the longtime owner of Special Assignment, a boutique public relations and marketing firm. Recently, she elected to assume a more active role in marketing and office management for r. LUSK, noting that the couple are “two ends of the spectrum, the ideal partnership.” When the pair teamed up in 2007, they acknowledge that their collaboration helped move the fledgling business to a “place of clarity.”
The studio’s fairly recent acquisition of 4,000 square feet of studio space unfolds in an appealing series of vignettes, a wonderland for the curious and creative mind. A mini-gallery just inside the front door gives way to intimate presentation spaces, a cozy library of antique books and various samples, and an expansive workshop space divided by work tables littered with pieces in progress, shelving bearing neatly arranged cans and jars of pigments and brushes, and rack after rack of original design templates appealingly patinaed from years of use. Adjacent spaces are divided into offices enticingly layered with the images and artifacts of busy careers in creative fields.
Lusk relishes the increased square footage for “room to grow, room to think and space to take risks.” He is looking ahead to more “scalable” products, maybe fabric and wallcoverings. And when he looks back, it is to lessons learned. “In a small company, you do it all and nothing is going to be perfect,” he asserts. “There are so many obstacles. Constantly. But there is nothing that can’t be fixed; life isn’t like that.”
Learn more about r. LUSK Studios: LuskStudios.com, 757-233-5173
Reese Lusk in the Studio
Leading his atelier since 2003 and with “renewed clarity” since 2007, master artist, Reese Lusk, personally touches every gilded textile, occasional table, pillow, architectural finish and design concept that leaves the studio.
Gold Leaf Sizing
Each gilded textile requires the hand-application of sizing to which the gold or silver leaf is adhered. A brush allows the artist to control the amount of sizing applied to create the finest lines in each original design. The end-result varies dramatically depending on the client’s choice of colorway, be it Pistachio, Fawn, Pomelo or any one of the more than 30 hues from the r. LUSK proprietary palette.
Scenic Series joins some 100 original patterns in the r. LUSK line. No two custom iterations of the same design—with names like Floral Cascade, Gathering and Birds and Blossoms—in the same colors are identical.
With roots in ancient China, Kirigami is a cousin to origami that relies on cut, rather than solely folded, paper, typically without the use of glue. Shown here under acrylic with standouts, the gilded wall panels may also be mounted on linen-wrapped panels and encased in acrylic.
Warm minimalism defines these sleek tables crafted by Philip Goold into folded planes with invisible wood joinery and subtly beveled edges. Each table is finished in the studio with hand-applied plaster in one of three original custom patterns—Shagreen, Crocodile and Floral Relief—accented in gold or silver leaf and hand-waxed to a luxurious luster.
r. LUSK’s gilded and boldly elegant interpretations of Chinese and East Asian decorative traditions are fueled by master artist, Reese Lusk’s, global travels and academic study of art history. These gold or silver hand-leafed textiles are available in sophisticated colorways rendering them stunning for both commercial and residential applications. One of Lusk’s greatest satisfactions is “seeing what the work does for a space.”