Maker Monday: An Aspire Exclusive Interview With Janis Provisor And Brad Davis

After a year-long journey in China filled with inspiration, painting, and absorbing culture, husband and wife duo Janis Provisor and Brad Davis were sparked with enthusiasm to create fine, silk rugs. After painting with watercolors for years, the two knew they wanted to find a technique that would represent the bleeding lines and dynamic intricacies through a different, woven medium. Since opening Fort Street Studio in 1997, they have become an internationally acclaimed luxury brand, with showrooms in New York and Hong Kong, an office in London, and have even designed flooring for Hermès’ Atelier’s new “Maison” collection. Their new book “Tale of Warp and Weft” can be found on shelves tomorrow, April 13, 2021, and discusses the step-by-step process that led to a revolutionary “painterly” style in modern carpet design. Introducing this week’s Maker Monday, Janis Provisor and Brad Davis.

The deep toned rug is majorly inspired by the ink that bleeds in Chinese calligraphy. It’s made of Dandong silk and includes various techniques including, Perisian hand-knotting and color-precise yarn dyeing, enabling the perfect illusion of a painted piece of art.

Andrew Joseph: Are you a good cook?
Janis Provisor: I’m a terrible cook but Brad is a great cook. I’m a good director…his chicken soup is always divine, and never the same twice. Cooking without following a recipe is a lot like we design. There is an end game in mind, but our minds roam until we get there.

Andrew: Who do you want to write your obit?
Janis: While I’m hoping my exit is a long time coming (my mother is 102 years old and with it!) the person I’d choose would be our son Alec Davis. He’s a writer/filmmaker who knows me and my work well. I can always depend on him for a critical eye and a well-turned phrase. Plus, he’s funny!

Pictured above is the Aura rug designed by Fort Street Studio. It is a part of the Drawn Line collection and altogether captures the simplicity of the hand-drawn lines paired with dynamic and rich colors.

Andrew: What’s your favorite cocktail?
Janis: Hands down a Negroni. In the last few years pre-COVID, we’d been spending a lot of time in Italy. We were driving to Milan and stopped at a small, charming town for an aperitif on a lovely terrace. We saw a couple drinking these gorgeous red drinks, and we said “ we’ll have what they’re having.” Brad and I looked at each other in wonder…what have we been missing?!!! It’s now our go-to cocktail whether we’re in NY, Italy or India. Very versatile.

Andrew: Style or Design icon?
Janis: Dries van Noten is a brilliant fashion designer, smart and ever evolving. While of course, I look at design, I’ve always felt fashion is often the first incubator of design and color ideas and Dries never disappoints. While he only has a few eponymous shops, each is filled with great design, both vintage and new pieces! He’s the only fashion designer I follow on Instagram!

Andrew: What’s the weirdest thing a client has ever asked you?
Janis: “I love everything you do, all your colors and designs, and can you do it for me, only in all beige?” Honestly, I was dumbstruck, then burst out laughing!

Whether it’s choosing the colorways, size, or even shape, Fort Street Studio is willing to make any client’s interior design dreams come alive.

Andrew: When you’re avoiding working, who do you call?
Janis: When I’m at loose ends or suffering from quarantine inertia I always call Alec, our son. Unfortunately, he picks up about a third of a time if I’m lucky. I know he screens our calls so when I really need him I have to text saying pick-up. But when he does we have these far-ranging conversations, and not to be left out, Brad joins with Alec on speaker.

Andrew: Where is the first place you’ll travel after quarantine?
Janis: To the beach! We’ve actually scheduled a trip in May as we’re fully vaccinated! I’m longing for the Caribbean Sea which is so restorative. We desperately need a reset from not knowing what day it is, but don’t we all.

Andrew: Go-to quarantine read?
Janis: Mysteries are my guilty pleasure. I gobble them up like candy but take breaks with literature. Another guilty read is the news and notifications on my phone where I slip into People magazine reading about celebs that are unknown to me. I’m a news junkie, and am so grateful that I no longer or rarely have to read about Trump. Although it took a while to decompress!!!

“A Tale of Warp and Weft: Fort Street Studio” comes out tomorrow, April 13th. It shares the journey of how Janis and Brad were able to transform watercolor paintings into a luxury silk carpet while also facing the difficulties in finding and executing their technique.

Andrew: New favorite past-time?
Janis: We are in the process of buying a house in the country. While the first item on the agenda is a renovation, I’ve become addicted to auction sites hunting for furniture and spending inordinate amounts of time on 1stDibs, all from the comfort of my favorite Hella Jongerius sofa.

Andrew: Biggest supporter/motivator?
Janis: I would have to say my husband, Brad Davis. Our friends say we’re joined at the hip as we work together, play together, and we managed quarantine together remarkably well. But of course, it’s been a horribly depressing and terrifying time, and Brad has keep me going. These days we work mostly at home, occasionally the showroom, and we share a studio in Brooklyn where we design and make art. He gets me out the door and focuses me to go to the studio as I can too easily be rooted at home these days. He’s not only my best friend, and design cohort but an honest critic of my work. The one thing he does not motivate me to do is exercise, and I find that terribly disappointing!

About The Makers | The origins of Fort Street Studio lay in the adventurous spirit of founders, Janis Provisor and Brad Davis, a married couple of accomplished artists who exhibited at Holly Solomon Gallery throughout the 1970s and 80s. They are represented in museums like the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, Albright Knox Gallery, and international collections both public and private.

Since their fortuitous beginnings, Janis Provisor and Brad Davis have grown the company into an internationally acclaimed luxury brand, with showrooms in New York and Hong Kong plus an office in London. The couple continues to launch new designs annually based on their original artwork, and have expanded their choice of medium to include carpet qualities of diverse textures, hand-knotted and hand-woven in wool, silk and combinations of those and other natural fibers. Fort Street Studio has an apprenticed Art Department to work hand-in-hand with clients to customize current designs for individualized needs.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for aspire design and home magazine. See more of his work here.

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