The word “happy” comes to mind when a visitor enters Alan M. Londin’s sixth floor apartment in Sunny Isles Beach.
The feeling comes from a lot more than the bright Florida sunshine streaming through the glass door and the waterfront view. Londin, an artist, teacher and fabric designer, loves bright colors. White slipcovered furniture, a sisal rug and a floor-length white tablecloth allow his art and color choices to star. A bright orange Asian console. A cobalt blue screen outlined with white borders on abstract flowers. The bright orange, yellow, blue, and green squares in his wall art.
It is no surprise that Matisse and Londin’s late friend, Andy Warhol, have influenced his creative work. Londin and Warhol collaborated on a fabric collection that was influenced by the $50 of penny candy Londin brought to him for inspiration.
“He threw the candy on the floor and created the designs,” Londin says. “He did 10 designs for me. He was so innovative and he opened my eyes to everyday life.”
His neat pile of books also reflects his love of creative work — Allure by former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, A House is Not a Home by superstar photographer Bruce Weber, Billy Baldwin Decorates by Baldwin, the Baltimore-born design icon, and The Watercolors of Winslow Homer by Homer.
Although he retired from his art director career about eight years ago, Londin continues to design fabrics that he paints in colorful florals and abstracts with acrylic paints. His bedroom functions in dual roles — as a place to sleep and a place to create his designs. Examples include a chair with an eclectic combination of florals, stripes and abstract figures; floral designs on pillows and a desk painted in abstract forms.
Londin paints with acrylic on canvas fabric. He doesn’t use a sealer because he fears it would disturb the color. He has tested the finished product and it can be washed.
Most of his career took place in New York City, where he was a textile designer and art director for Wamsutta, a manufacturer best known for bedding. During the 1980s he created the Alan Londin Collection of fabrics that was sold in designer showrooms such as Todd Wiggins in the Miami Design District. Dynasty star Joan Collins was a fan, with five of his textile prints in her home.
“They were very sunbelt oriented,” he says, “They made it seem as if the sun was shining into the home. They were flowers, chintzes and plenty of pink. No one was doing pink then.”
He moved to Laguna Beach, Calif., where he worked for Coopertex and traveled throughout Europe to find mills that specialized in textile design. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, he has taught at Moore College of Art in Philadelphia and at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, where he was named Teacher of the Year three times.
Los Angles-based Bill Glazer, also a textile designer, has known Londin close to 40 years. He describes him as thoughtful, with gentlemanly manners from another decade.
“His designs are now heavily weighted toward the style of Matisse, but he brings it up to a contemporary pop arena,” Glazer says. “It is fun and very optimistic.”
Londin may have retired from art direction, but he isn’t the type of person who would spend his time playing cards or joining clubs. He keeps busy with design projects and teaching watercolor painting at Florida Atlantic University’s adult evening classes as well as watercolors and acrylic painting at the Sunny Isles Cultural Center.
Annmarie Rosenzweig of Aventura has taken at least eight of his classes in the past two years and says she will continue. Their relationship goes beyond the classroom. She and her husband have invited Londin to dinner and he has become their friend.
“He is a wonderful teacher,” she says. “He is very helpful and patient. He gives good instruction to the class. He walks around, looks at your work and critiques it. I am happy to be there.”
Londin also has dabbled in interior design, something he has always wanted to find time to do.
“If you know design, you know it in many areas,” he says. “My idea is to use what people have and just move it around.”
His first house design was a great challenge because the client was a collector. Londin organized the collections, including the family photographs that were scattered everywhere. He hung the photos together on a wall for a dramatic statement.
Other recent projects include masks and women’s T-shirts painted with flowers. The masks are colorful and more abstract than literal — perfect for a contemporary or global décor. The coup de grace is how he frames them, painted in bright acrylic with a design, such as dots, to tie in with the mask. He hopes to market them to galleries and interior designers.
His latest project is an event benefiting the Founding Foster Care Fund of the Humane Society of Greater Miami. He is one of 26 artists to paint designs on papier mache dog sculptures. They will be displayed 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday in the Fountain Court of Aventura Mall and will be auctioned 6 to 8:30 p.m. March 7 at an invitation-only event in the same location.
Clara Poupel, a contemporary artist who is serving as curator and creative director of the event, says she has known Loudin for about a year and asked him to paint three dogs — an afghan, a cocker spaniel and a mutt.
“Alan is a wonderful artist,” she says. “He is very lively and one of the people you appreciate. He is very enthusiastic and definitely loves art. An artist is not something you become, you are born to it.”
Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.