So listen, you’re probably going to hate me because I haven’t been around the Bloggie in like a week and already I’m pawning it off on someone else. But you know the ritual! I’m covered in carpet samples and furniture tear sheets and party invitations and awesome artwork by my Twitter friend’s children (I love ya Luke!) so I’m once again handing the reins of the blog off to someone brilliant and spectacular. Kn0wn around Twitter as the Pillow Goddess, I’m finding that she’s probably the only person on Twitter that can out-talk me. That is no easy feat as you all know how I love to talk!
But enough about me… so far, in our prior guest spots we’ve really been hitting inspiration hard. As a designer by day (Batman by night….) I know just how hard it can be to be inspired. It isn’t easy when you’ve had a super long day of phone calls and meetings and general client muck-i-ness to sit down and let the creative juices flow. Be it my blog or my actual design work, I too have those creative stumps. This week, Deborah Main gives us insight in to just how she finds her inspiration to create such awesome pillow creations. Read up.
In the meantime, I’m going back to bed.
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When Brandon invited me to share my design inspiration with his readers I thought – Gee how am I going to describe in a short post what has become a 7 year passion culminating into being dubbed the “Pillow Goddess”? (Waaay better than being called Pillow Lady for sure, so I’m IN with the Goddess part!!) (EDIT: So she missed the “Short”… she’s so like me) Instead of talking about the millions of ideas that go on in my head and my studio every time I have a creative surge and crank out 20 pillows for a show or the privilege of working with custom order clients who give me total creative freedom, I thought I’d talk about the foundation of my creativity instead – how my design aesthetic came to be.
See, I’m not schooled in design, textiles, art, or even sewing for that matter. I just happen to have become an artist who uses the pillow as my canvas. Yup, a pillow. Different yes, but oh, how I love it!! It is the artistic expression of who I am and what I value in my life. And it all happened one day with an epiphany at a luxurious fabric store, a spontaneous creative moment of weaving colorful French silk ribbons together into a beautiful design.
Through a major shift in my aesthetic sensibilities, from growing up matchy-matchy to embracing contrast in color, texture, and shape, I’ve grown to love designing and creating one-of-a-kind pillows. Our studio is not simply another pillow manufacturer. Rather, it is an artist’s design studio that specializes in creating beautiful heirloom pillows that can be passed down from one generation to the next. We make each pillow by hand and value high quality, fine craftsmanship, attention to detail, and above all else, customer service. And we love to re-purpose all things vintage and antique, to transform and breath new life into old textiles and jewelry.
In many respects my whole life has laid the groundwork for such pillow inspiration to take form (no pillow pun intended!). I’m quite frankly, a fabric junkie. If you’re wearing a gorgeous 1950’s cocktail dress and it’s full of color and amazing texture, you’d better watch out because I might snatch it right off of you to make a pillow.
Simply put, there is no one single inspiration for me….I see art and design everywhere in life! The result of a lengthy illness, several years of just having to be instead of do, I learned to see and appreciate the tiniest of details in our everyday world. From the angle of the sun hitting my nightstand in the morning to the shapes and shades of the leaves on the oak tree outside my window seat. I believe that in those quiet moments of just being, the foundation of my curiosity and creativity was born.
To address the design inspiration that Brandon wanted me to talk about in the first place!
The Gift of Life – Gratitude: Illness has taught me to appreciate being alive and to count my blessings everyday for the love of family and dear friends and being able to do something I love. I relish in the privilege of being married to the most amazing husband and raising two incredibly creative children whom all give me daily inspiration. I get inspired just talking with my children and hearing their wild, fantastical ideas and seeing their creative minds at work. My husband’s literary mind amazes me every day. I love meeting new people and making new friends, from painters to jewelry designers to architects and interior designers. I thrive in social gatherings and gain creative energy, almost a creative high if you will, from other people, from the complexities and nuances in conversation and relationships. It is through these connections and bonds with people that recharge my creative spirit and enliven and inspire me to create.
The one-of-a-kind pillow above blossomed from my relationships with three fantastic women. The fabric is from a 1930’s lace dress bought from one of my mentors, Jane Clarke, the owner of Amelia’s Retro-Vogue & Relics. The vintage trim is from a Houston-based French antique dealer and friend, Janet Wiebe of Janet Wiebe Antiques. And the brooch is a magnificent royal purple stunner bought from new friend and dealer Patricia Kyle. Each of our pillows tell a story, and friendships with these women, as well as the history of the beautiful vintage textiles, trim and jewelry, are intrinsically a part of this pillow’s story.
The Outdoors – Nature: As a young adult, camping was always the answer to the simple question “What is your favorite vacation?” Sure, I enjoy luxurious hotels like anyone else (the older I get the softer I like my mattress!), but it’s the silence of the woods and the light streaming through the trees illuminating the forest floor that make me think. I’m blessed to live in a city where I can choose to be outdoors 365 days of the year. In nature is where I see light, color, texture, shape and form. As a child I often sailed with my father and loved the deep shades of blue in the ocean and sky, or canoed at my Grandmother’s Pocono Mountain lake watching the rippled patterns the oar made in the stillness of the water. And if you look at a single shell or sand dollar on the rocky coast of Maine, you see intricate shapes, color and design throughout its simple form. I also love the beauty, color and texture of wood made into fine antiques and the smell of fresh leather, the multiple shades of orange in a magical sunset on Deer Isle. More recently, I feel like I’ve been given a gift by Georgia O’Keefe, as I’ve grown to love the long drive through West Texas through Santa Fe and Taos to the Colorado mountains of Ouray, a small mining town. The barren land of West Texas and mountains of New Mexico and Colorado feed my soul, which inspires me to no end. I see wonderful flowing shapes in the clouds and ever-changing landscape that are truly inspiring. It also doesn’t hurt that in these mystical places are tucked away quaint fabric and ribbon stores and unique vintage shops for exploring – a sure fire way to get my creative juices flowing!
The World – Travel: I was very lucky at a young age to travel through Europe, six countries, camping with my siblings. To this day, I have the leather bookends and textured wallet I bought from a flea market in Florence Italy. We saw so much art, architecture, history and beautiful furnishings and tapestries, that I believe to this day it laid the foundation for my inspiration and appreciation for art, history and different cultures. I remember a pen I bought that was encased in ornate metal with jewels all over it. I always loved the royal colors, rich reds, emerald greens, sapphire blues, brilliant golds and luscious velvet textiles and use them regularly in my designs. I saw art and design everywhere from sculptured gardens at Le Fountainbleu to brilliant Rembrandt masterpieces at the Louvre. Luscious and opulent, Europe gave me a backdrop for many pillows to come. I have now acquired a vast collection of vintage French trim, basking in the color, texture and fine craftsmanship of the genuine silk and cotton trim from old European factories long gone. This gave birth to our signature Rococo Ribbon Collection. And my travels to Shanghai, Suzhou, and Wuhan China, visiting Mom and Pop shops along the way, have all brought the rich vastness of the silk road right to my door step. I relish making pillows from the finest silk brocades into our Redbrick Modern Collection.
Just for fun, I started collecting vintage souvenir travel scarves from each state and around the world, Paris being the very first. I enjoy turning these collectable treasures from the past into one-of-a-kind contemporary pillows.
Fashion – Style: Fashion is everywhere, from the runway to the home and has been a great influence on my designs. I grew up going to Filene’s Basement in Boston and remember quite vividly hearing the bell ring and the gates opening while throngs of women raced to get the next deal on discounted designer clothing. It was a family ritual and I was taught to value high quality classic pieces that are timeless. I adored my mother and her sense of style. I relished in the fashion of the 1950’s and fondly remember the Chanel No. 5 perfume bottle on my mother’s dresser. Today, I still look through the pages of Vogue for inspiration far more than I do a home décor magazine because I’m greatly inspired by shoes, handbags and love the problem solving aspect of making it into my own design. And I LOVE vintage! I wore it as a teenager and young bride, saving my mother’s monogrammed dresses, hand gloves, and furs and now collect it as an adult. I recently used a vintage mink Chevron-pattern fur as inspiration for a new collection. Vintage jewelry from the early 1900’s through 1960’s also have inspired two of our collections as I have the utmost respect for the fine craftsmanship that went into designing these fine costume jewelry pieces. I now collect vintage brooches from designers like Trifari, Stanley Hagler, Miriam Haskell, Hobe, and Chanel.
I believe we become the person of all our life experiences combined and it boils down to the essence, the core, of who we are. I value connections with people and lasting friendships. In my designs, I take my inspiration from the past, present, and future, and like to mix it all up and see where it leads me. From a drive through New Mexico, to a Louboutin shoe in NYC. Think about your life and the things, people, and places around you that have helped and continue to make you who you are today. You too will see inspiration all around you. Who knows, you might discover that hidden designer and artist in yourself one day!
For more information about Deborah’s awesome handmade pillows, visit her site Deborah Main Designs.
All Images courtesy the Artist.