I sent out a little pop quiz yesterday. If you didn’t see it feel free to check it out before we get to the answer.
These are a few fabric sample combos that I put together for some client projects. That might be my second favorite part of designing a room. (For me nothing will ever surpass painting walls. But that’s just my addiction.) When I create a fabric “palette” I walk into one of my favorite local fabric stores, such as Britex in SF or Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley. After taking a few steps in the door, I stop and survey the whole place. Even though I have very strong ideas about what I’m looking for, I am always open to finding something I haven’t noticed in the past. Then I pounce, like a lion.
I start out with a favorite. Depending on whether it will be curtains or canopies, sheets or upholstery, I choose the staple. This dictates the path I will take from this point on.
Why? Well, color is important of course. The theme of the design…is it conversational, stripes, and polka dots? But most importantly for me, it’s about WEIGHT!
Weight is what can pull together the most absurd of color combinations or patterns. But there are several elements to feeling weight. Yes, I said “feeling” weight. It is as much instinctual as it is visual or physical. There are some designers that master this. One is Tricia Guild. Her designs are what I imagine it would feel like to live inside a freshly picked piece of fruit. I could just eat it. My favorite is Jonathan Adler. “Jonathan, I worship the ground you glide over!” Jonathan’s work is rich and decadent and snarky. I would imagine living in his designs would make me feel a little guilty. I’m not accustomed to such pampering. But I’m working on it. Spoil ME rotten, Jonathan.
So how do you feel weight? What are some tricks?
First, and most obviously is the actual thickness and texture of a fabric. Can you see the threads like in brocade or heavy linen or even velvet? When you run it through your fingers, does it fall heavily around them or does it stay rigid? Maybe it’s a bit translucent? Maybe it is very densely woven? These elements are easy to see and feel. Will it function for the purpose? If yes, it’s time to take your eyes and hands connect them with your gut.
Once you have your staple fabric sample, begin to methodically walk up and down the aisles of the store. Drag your sample across the other fabrics as you look. You might be holding on to a repeat geometric pattern, but as you pass a large conversational fabric with large graphic birds, something clicks. The geometric is gold, black and white. The birds are turquoise, green orange and brown. It’s not logical. But it feels really good. Pick it up and keep going.
Now jump to a solid. One that compliments each of your other choices when next to them. But also connects them even more like a glue.
***Now remember the weight. The colors might be a perfect match, but do they feel like they could marry each other? Is one “meat & potatoes” and the other into sushi? Then put it down. On the other hand, are the colors not exactly a match? The grays or the reds not exactly the same? Maybe. But is there a spark, a chemistry? You can’t explain it, but it just works? (God knows, I know lots of couples that fall into that category. (Friends, if you’re wondering I’m referring to you, don’t worry, I’m not ; ) That thing, that’s how I define weight. Ignore your doubts and just keep going.
Finally, when you get your fabrics and are choosing threads, DO IT AGAIN! Please don’t just pick a neutral. Use navy thread on a pink base. Use a bright green on a neutral blue. And don’t ignore the sheens. Two threads that are the exact same color have different weight if one is matt and one is shiny.
Whew! I think that’s enough for lessons this week. Did anyone come up with that answer? It’s almost the weekend. Take a trip to your fabric store and try it just for fun. You don’t need to buy it. Most importantly, no one will be grading you, but you might be inspired.
Have a great Cinco de Mayo! See you all on Monday.