Before he launched his Ze Haus studio in 2020, creative Kenzie Leon Perry learned everything he didn’t want to be while working as a designer for some rather humdrum companies.
“I was required to invent spaces that reflected uninspired brand standards and neutral palettes to appease the general consumer,” he says. “Now I thrive to incorporate bold colors and patterns inspired by the tropics in Miami and the Caribbean. I have the opportunity to explore [palettes and motifs] in ways I couldn’t before.”
That’s certainly the mantra behind Perry’s ongoing collection of wallcoverings, all of which are informed by the Black and Afro-Caribbean neighborhoods and cultures of Miami, where he was born and raised. Both of the current lines, TropicArt and Caribe Miami, reflect its creator’s love of bold hues and native nature, with imagery that ranges from sugarcane grasses from the Florida Everglades to chickens with headgear. (The coverings are available as peel-and-stick removable woven, non-pasted traditional pebble, and grass cloth, and can be custom colorized in certain instances.)
“The wallpapers are born out of a hand-painting I create,” says Kenzie of his process. “Once the art is complete, I digitally transpose the work to the computer and finally into a wallpaper. Simultaneously, I create a series of artworks that correspond to each wallpaper collection. Both design components complement one another and allow the designer to choose how to use them.”
Many of these drawings and paintings hang in Perry’s studio in the Design District, where he’s currently at work on his next collection, one inspired by Coconut Grove and the Bahamian population that has nurtured that neighborhood, as well as on a line of home products and an art publishing collaboration. While all differ in aesthetic and scope, color is the common thread through them all.
“Color embodies energy and reflects personality,” says Perry. “Without color, life is dull and unimaginative.”
Text by Luis R. Rigual