Wild at Heart: Décor Artist Lynn Chase Talks Table Design

Philanthropist and wildlife painter Lynn Chase has been in the home décor business for close to thirty years. As a child, she began painting. As an adult, painting turned to plate design, and her message and passion for nature conservation grew. With no formal training, Chase’s original designs graced countless tabletops, each with an inscription dedicated to a population in need. Today, her works are award-winning, she serves on the board of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, and she donates a portion of all proceeds to the Lynn Chase Wildlife Foundation. Here, from her home outside New York City, Chase talks business and inspiration.

Lynn Chase with Her Jack Russell Terrier, BanditLynn Chase with her Jack Russell terrier, Bandit

Rue La La: So, first things first. Why animals?
Lynn Chase: I grew up on Long Island surrounded my animals. My mother raised golden retrievers and my grandmother was an ornithologist. I started drawing at an early age – leopards, for some reason, even though I’d never seen one as a child.

RLL: How did you get your business off the ground?
LC: After the October 19 crash of 1987, I drafted a business plan with my then-partner who had worked at Cartier. We went to friends and family for investors, since we couldn’t rely on venture capitalists at the time. A marketing research firm told me it would never sell, claiming no one would eat off of animals. But then, Jaguar Jungle won the Best Design and Impact Award from the National Tabletop Association.

RLL: How do you spread your message of wildlife conservation?
LC: When we opened the business, I simultaneously began the Lynn Chase Wildlife Foundation, which receives a portion of our pre-taxed profits. Being in the midst of an economic crisis, it was a huge risk. But an important one. Living in Africa for three years in the 70s, I witnessed the devastation firsthand. The LCWF focuses on stem habitat loss in areas of dense biodiversity. The idea is, by saving one animal, you save many.

RLL: Which collections are you most proud of?
LC: I own a lot of china, as you can imagine. I love the latest collection, Exotica. It’s a very pale yellow, incorporating exotic creatures like coral, shells, leopards, and birds of paradise.

RLL: How do you stay inspired?
LC: News programs, magazines. I have an amazing library. I even get Ranger Rick. I go through the pages and tear out pictures. When I want to design, I turn to my collection.

Our Lynn Chase: Beloved. And back on Rue. Boutique opens Thursday, May 15, at 11AM ET.

By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

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May 15, 2014