the ‘new modern’ in textiles

21 Feb

DwellStudio new collection: Gate (left), Pyramids (right)

I’ve been thinking all week about a recent blog post by Christiane at DwellStudio, because it sheds some light on a question I’ve been asking myself recently. As readers of my posts now know, I’ve recently enrolled myself in an interior design class at Parsons here in NY. And on our first day of class, we were asked to introduce ourselves and offer a brief description of our personal style as it relates to design and decoration.

It reminded me of that famous ruling in the 1960’s Supreme Court obscenity trial. My style? I know it when I see it.

Yes, I love modern style. But, as I’m sure you’d agree, I love all kinds of modern design. Eames-era mid-century modern? Check. Formal, minimalist modernism? Sure, when it’s right. Thrift-store, folk-art, shag-carpet-and-orange-needlepoint-owls? That too. But then there’s also the soft textures, the antique aviary prints, and even a zebra-stripe pattern now and again.

Having spent many, many years in marketing, I know all about neat little boxes and the need for people to label things that sometimes defy categorization. Then I read this:

At DwellStudio we spend a lot of creative energy redefining our idea of what is current and modern. Modern to us has never meant gravel driveways and linear achitecture – modern is not a movement that can be distilled down to an iconic piece of furniture. For us it’s state of mind. For us modern is new – new ideas, new horizons, new design.

After the last year, what feels modern to us is something riffing off of the more traditional. We are taking cues from historical visual motifs and making them new. We are transforming the decorative and making it minimal. Decorative Minimal may seem like an oxymoron but we are looking to European style – it’s about the few great things that make a space well designed and the worship of quality and craftsmanship. Our geometrics have become luxurious and three dimensional, our prints more complex – the pieces have a heirloom quality and a modernity that seem to be the right balance for right now.

Although I’m not 100% in sync with the ‘decorative minimal’ style, I really appreciate Christiane’s effort to reassess what’s become a catch-all term.

So what does Modern look like to me? I’ve selected a few fabric swatches to share. Perhaps they inspire you the way they’re inspiring me. They all offer some kind of contrast, a sense of history, and a mix of science and nature. (NB: both sources quoted below offer their swatches for free or at minimal cost – definitely worth checking out).

Dotti/Harbor, Smith+Noble
Geometric yet organic, a curious mix of nouveau and MCM

Network/Steel, Smith+Noble
Strong pattern and soft color

Connected/Crimson, Smith+Noble
Confident and intricate

Brunchwig & Fils Riggins, Trellis, Fabric Guru
So old fashioned and aristocratic in a fun illustration style

Houndstooth fabric, New Green, Fabric Guru
A heritage pattern, large scale and in an unexpected color

Waverly Garden Lattice Woven, Chocolate, Fabric Guru
Bamboo cane-chair pattern reminiscent of 1930’s and 1970’s

I’m thinking of calling it ‘eclectic modern,’ but I’m open to suggestions.

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