Michele D’Ermo Looks To The Horizon

The artist's evocative oil paintings have been commissioned in a limited edition for Design Within Reach.
Michele D’Ermo, “Solitude,” 2024. Courtesy of MillerKnoll Design Within Reach

By Ray Rogers

On just about any given day of the year, you can find painter Michele D’Ermo planted in the sand, barefoot, in a state of reverie looking at the ocean at Egypt Beach in East Hampton—or gazing out at the Hudson River a few blocks from her West Village home, with her two trusted Cavalier King Charles spaniel pups in tow. The unfolding scenes make their way into her exquisite oil paintings, rich in color and depth, and imbued with an emotionality that evokes the natural world.

“‘Nature is the art of God,’ as Dante said, and I believe that as well,” says D’Ermo. “The sea itself is very mysterious and enchanting and it always is different, whether it’s the contrast of the sky and the sea and the land, or the light. For me being in nature invites you to contemplate and relate to something bigger than yourself.” 

This all comes to fruition in D’Ermo’s Horizons: Earth, Sea and Sky, a new series of eight atmospheric, abstract landscapes commissioned by Design Within Reach and unveiled this spring at the brand’s Westport, Connecticut, branch. Immersive, large-scale paintings with names such as “Refuge” and “Dreamscape” deliver on their titles’ promise. “Her work creates a sense of comfort and calm, which reflects how we think about our furniture and the way it enhances a home,” notes Debbie Propst, president, global retail, at Design Within Reach parent company MillerKnoll. “Michele’s work perfectly complements our authentic modern offerings—it is timeless, imaginative, and taps into our senses in a way that creates peace, reminding us of the beauty of nature and the power of environments.”

D’Ermo’s entry into the design world came from helping 1stDibs founder Michael Bruno with the brand’s European expansion. “We went to major art fairs in Europe, like Tefaf Maastricht in Holland, that exposed me to the beauty of art and how it can transform interior spaces,” she recalls. “That was the best education.”

It follows that D’Ermo would become a trusted go-to for interior designers, who frequently request special commissions; her work can also be purchased at Monika Olko Gallery in Sag Harbor. Not simply inspired by nature, her painting process is also natural and instinctual. “I’m a very impulsive painter. I do alla prima painting—I get everything down in the first moment.” 

In her works, you’ll often find vapor on water, storms over the sea, and, of course, horizons. Of the latter, she says, “it has a foreverness to it—it’s present, but also past and future; it holds all dimensions of time. It seems universal and timeless. And there’s a lot of promise in it, which is why we all like to go to the ocean and look at the horizon.” micheledermo.com; dwr.com