The Birth of Venus –

Nov 26, 2007 | 1 Comment

The holiday weekend was so leisurely that I had time to start and finish a novel — The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant. For anyone who likes historic fiction with lots of romance and suspense mixed in I can definitely recommend it. It takes place in Florence during the late 15th and early 16th centuries and has enough references to textiles to warrant mention here! (The main character’s father is a cloth merchant whose business is later threatened by strict sumptuary laws, etc.) Above is an image from the Metropolitan Museum’s website, a tapestry dating to the late 16th century called “The Gathering of Manna” and made in a workshop in Florence. Also now at the Met: a special exhibition, “Tapestry of the Baroque: Threads of Splendor”, lasting until January 6th, 2008.

Mizrahi Fine Arts, Vienna –

Nov 25, 2007 | 2 Comments

A few years ago I picked up a small brochure of works represented by Mizrahi Fine Arts, a tribal art gallery based in Vienna. (It must have been during my visit to the Tribal & Textile Arts show in New York in early 2005?) I’ve held onto it because the carpets pictured – described as “primitive goat hair textiles” made by Kurds in Eastern Anatolia – represent my version of a certain kind of carpet bliss. The simplicity of the design, the earthiness of the natural (goat hair) material, the stern and yet soothing combination of colors — it’s perfect.

Lost City –

Nov 23, 2007 | 1 Comment

I’m really excited and inspired by people who are able to help invigorate and foster small-scale / local traditions of hand-craft in sustainable and ethical ways. That’s why coming across a reference to the company Lost City, founded by Afshan Durrani, this afternoon in Ego Magazine was especially tantalizing — and frustrating in that she doesn’t seem to have a website or other on-line representation. The profile by EM describes how she started her “couture fabric and upholstery” company and how it is helping to revitalize the tradition of completely handmade embroidery in India. The site Design with India also has a profile of her. (And both refer to her representation in San Francisco as well as New York but don’t give details…)

1/7/08 UPDATE: See comment attached to this posting (received today) for more information about Lost City representation! (Thanks!)

Thanksgiving Linen –

Nov 22, 2007 | 1 Comment

I spent the afternoon doing prep-work for tomorrow’s big day of cooking and got to thinking about my small interest in vintage Irish linen dish towels. My curiosity was first piqued this summer when I last visited my grandparent’s house and noticed anew the thematic dish towels they keep in a secondary bathroom. As a category they seem to range between kitschy, plain-old tacky, and generally bizarre. But the precedent for cramming all kinds of trivial – and historic – information on this one type of domestic cloth is interesting (see Exhibit A at top, the “horse map of the world” tea towel now on EBay). Perhaps it’s some kind of outgrowth of “samplers” from earlier eras, or it just became a convenient, and relatively inexpensive, medium for souvenir-making? (I’ve seen several commemorating Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding for instance). But anyway – here are two fun Beatles ones I found. Click here for the site. — And may none of your linens be destroyed by wine, fire or other tomorrow!

Picasso Fabric –

Nov 21, 2007 | Leave a Comment

I’m inspired by the graphic quality and stylistic whimsy of the above headboard fabric, featured in Elle Decor’s November 2007 issue article “Two For the Road” about Steven Volpe and Roth Martin’s Paris apartment (pg. 196). The fabric is described as a vintage with Picasso designs. Bergamo has large scale horse pattern that’s a bit like this – don’t have an image handy – but other than that I haven’t seen anything similar in the showrooms. Searching “Picasso” and “fabric” on-line I found the above really cool image from a lot sold at auction through Treadway Toomey Galleries back in September 06. And looking on EBay there’s a very curious thing available at the moment – final photo – of yardage purchased at Cafe Picasso (not sure what this is) in Coconut Grove Miami two decades ago. It’s hard to tell here but the fabric actually has little grid lines dividing up the faces into squares that are approximately 17″. The seller is selling each square individually for $15. Would make great pillows. (Search picasso and fabric and you should find it.)

Rose Cumming –

Nov 20, 2007 | 3 Comments

Having been briefly introduced to Edinburgh Weavers through searches for my last post it seems like a good time to visit Rose Cumming, the early early twentieth century decorator and textile designer. Dessin Fournir has recently rediscovered and re-introduced some of her patterns, helping her live on today. (Click here to link to their page and her bio.) I first read about Cumming after falling unexpectedly for the above pink animal print. I’m not generally big on animal prints but there’s something so girly and arty about this one — and I love it on the 100% linen ground. Kind of “Grey Gardens.” In some alternate universe I’d have it as drapery on a super tall window. Also above is a lush giraffe print viscose velvet also from her line. And a picture of her (woman on the left) as a suffragette.

Victor Vasarely –

Nov 18, 2007 | Leave a Comment

I was looking through my Taschen New York Interiors book this afternoon and boom! An amazing wall textile by someone I had never heard of (but after googling feel I should have…). Victor Vasareley (1906-1997): described by Wikipedia as the “father of op-art” (op as in optical illusion), a Bauhaus trained artist who worked as a graphic designer in the 1930s and ultimately worked in a number of mediums throughout his life. He contributed to the experimental textiles of Edinburgh Weavers (also hadn’t heard of before) which was started in the 1920’s as a subset of of the textile firm Morton Sundour. Anway, I’m gleaning all of this through various random searches so don’t want to compact any informational errors by going on. Needless to say, this Victor Vasarely did exist and did cool stuff! Above top, the image from New York Interiors, followed by a more subdued textile also designed by VV for Edinburgh Weavers (“Keerno”, 1962).

Tai Ping Carpets

Nov 16, 2007 | Leave a Comment

I’ve had some beautiful fold-out brochures from Tai Ping Carpets languishing on my desk for months now so thought I should at least post a few of their designs. I love the extravagance of the colors here mixed with the linear structure of the patterns — very yin / yang I guess! According to a New York Times article from 1987 the company was founded in 1956 and has since made carpets for a legion of big-name locations including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva. (“Shopper’s World; Chinese Carpets Fit For A Prince”). The above images are all from their “Fret” collection

Kuba Pillows –

Nov 14, 2007 | 2 Comments


I was looking at Interior Design magazine’s October 2007 “Market Tabloid” this afternoon and found some exciting new sources in the section devoted to fabrics. Among the companies listed was Haba Na Haba, an organization dedicated to helping AIDS-affected youth in Tanzania through the promotion of local textile production and artistry. The site sells one-of-a-kind kuba cloth pillows, two of which are pictured above. I’m also including an image I came across earlier this summer on the blog Materialicious. It’s originally from a feature done by Elana Franklin for New York magazine about designer Scott Newkirk’s forest retreat. I love the spare, rustic-yet-contemporary look of this room — and the kuba pillows on the beds!

Indus Decor –

Nov 13, 2007 | Leave a Comment

I’ve been searching around this evening for additional on-line sources for beautiful Pakistani textiles — but to no avail. After finding Koel yesterday I felt determined to come up with a few more inspirational references but maybe I’ll have to put some time in at the library or a good design bookstore instead. In the meantime, I did find a great source for some really pretty Indian block print and batik textiles (among other styles) sold at reasonable prices by the yard at Indus Decor. It’s funny to look through images posted from all corners of the globe only to settle on a site based in Washington State — just up the coast. It’s a little deflating actually! But in any case, I’m happy to add this site to my list of finds.