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  Howie Green Interviews

Good Day Sunshine: Flower Power, Electric Colors And Mind-Expanding Decor

By KORKY VANN / The Hartford Courant

3/09: Call it the dawning of a new Age of Aquarius. "Hair" is back on Broadway. Woodstock Nation celebrates its 40th anniversary this summer, and designers have rediscovered the power of peace, harmony and those psychedelic, '60s-era, over-the-top flowers.

Boston-based artist Howie Green, who specializes in pop-art decor, says the country is ready for a hit of the mood-altering color and bold graphics of what he calls "the Peter Max era."

"Distinctive design defined that time," says Green. "When you see a Marimekko print, a Peter Max design or the fonts that were used on rock posters and album covers, you can immediately identify the decade."

Anyone looking for a contact high of '60s style can forget about muted neutrals and Laura Ashley florals. Key elements in the look, Green says, are color - the electric yellows, acid greens, hot pinks and outrageous oranges - along with in-your-face, oversized flowers, rainbows and yes, happy faces.

"There's nothing subtle about this," says Green. "It's bright, it's bold and it's upbeat."

Fans of the Yellow Submarine decor include nostalgic baby boomers and a new generation of hippie--wannabes who think the look is hip and cool. Green says advertisers too are having flashbacks to the love-in scene. "Major companies are using pop-art designs for commercials and print ads," says Green. "Contemporary bands are using it for album covers."

The mind-expanding look has also made its way to home decor. Day-glo shades and huge blossoms are showing up everywhere from wall coverings and rugs to toasters and tableware. York Wallcovering's new wall-sticker sets feature three bold flower options in chic colors. High-end designers Floral Art Home recently introduced a line of traditional silhouette side chairs updated with clear Lucite legs and backs highlighted with huge individual flowers. Crate & Barrel carries a line of Marimekko table and bed linens.

Green's work includes a dizzying array of patterned paintings, frames, mirrors, chairs, tables, clocks and more. "I used to paint this way, but moved on to other things," says Green. "Because of the demand, I've returned to my '60s roots."

Experts say to avoid a bad trip of a room, tune in to small touches of '60s design, turn on to vibrant color and drop out of a take-it-seriously mind set. If you've got album covers from the Summer of Love, pull out a few, frame them, (check for inexpensive frames), and display for a mellow yellow vibe.

"The whole essence of this is that it's fun," says Green. "Just go with it and enjoy it."

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