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Publication Date: 2018-02-08

Behind the Design

Studio Visit: Philomela

In the latest installment of our Studio Visit series, Bonnie Saland, the designer of Philomela, shares the inspiration behind their vibrant Heliodor fabric, which is part of the brand's new Rock Hard collection. 

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Q: What inspired you to create the Heliodor fabric?

A: The “Heliodor” pattern originated with this page from a “rock hard” visual journal. I collaged the cylindrical image from a silkscreen done while printing clay on ceramics. You can see that same form, which was replicating an actual stone, as part of the gemstone pattern as well.

Q: Did you see a void in the marketplace, or did you design it for a particular project and then realize that it had broader appeal?

A: I will typically immerse myself, over a period of time, in a body of work. Themes relate to images from the unconscious, or immersion in the study of a particular art method. I’ll often be working simultaneously on paper, canvas, fabric, and clay and in visual journal format. Slowly a theme emerges. Once a body of work is completed, I’ll work with our team to select specific images, or pieces of imagery, that we feel will translate well into textile and wallpaper formats. I never start with market demand, but I’m a true believer that the unconscious is operating on both a personal and collective level. That is clear with this “Rock Hard” collection, which I think both, references my own experience and the experience in the zeitgeist, which is then reflected in the design community.

Q: What is your favorite feature or detail of the fabric? 

A: I’m a particular fan of this hue of aquamarine. It is evocative of seawater, with all the properties of expansiveness, calm and cleansing that the ocean represents. Formally, I tend to privilege European modernism. I share a predilection for non-Western motifs (Aboriginal, Cycladic, Oceanic), and there is a quality of this print that references the primitive for me.

Q: The print really makes a statement, so ideally, how and where would you like to see it used?

A: I’d be curious as to how it might be utilized in the current wave of print-driven kitchens and powder rooms. Surprise is always a treat. I’d love to see it in the mix with African art, modern furnishings or perhaps even a bit of cabin kitsch. It’s always amazing to see how our clients make our patterns their own, integrating our language with their design vocabularies.

Q: How does it coordinate with other items in your collection?

A: 
This pattern mixes well with other neutral signature patterns of alternate scale (bird-by-bird, body parts, Indian floral, and wax). Our basic cobra and cabana stripes, polka dots and gingham checks will offer wonderful complements as well.

Q: Are you able to offer customized versions at all?

A: I’ll often see a particular print as “best” in a particular colorway, and the patterns almost always reflect the coloring of the original art. We do offer customized color, scale and ground options for any pattern, but because of our printing process that can require multiple steps to get the color corrected. 

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