Damn Good Design Articles: Edition 2

Two articles for price the price of one today friends! For this second edition of Damn Good Design Articles, I’ve paired an article from one of my favorite sources with a post of my own on the same/similar topic. Double the design tips means double the design knowledge! Here’s my round-up of helpful articles, hope you’ll find something worthwhile.

DAMN GOOD DESIGN ARTICLES: EDITION 2

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WINDOW TREATMENTS

1. Great MUST KNOW rules when it comes to dressing windows and excellent inspiration pictures via MY DOMAINE.

  • Claire’s Bonus Post: Learn some lingo about window treatments. DRAPERY, ROMAN, CORNICE what’s the difference?
  • You can find the curtains pictured above HERE

COLOR COMBOS

2. More than 70 designer approved COLOR COMBINATIONS via Lonny Mag. Great way to get inspired for an outfit or room!

  • Claire’s Bonus Post: Learn how to create your own color palette in this PHOTOSHOP LESSON.

BOOKS

3. The queen of boho chic, Amber Interiors, is most likely coming out with a book next year. For now, here’s her list of the top 5 DESIGN BOOKS from 2015.

  • Claire’s Bonus Post: A few of my STANDBY FAVS in the design/ DIY book department.

TRASH TO TREASURE

4. One of my favorite bloggers and designers, ROSA BELTRAN, shows some stunning before and after’s taking Craig’s list items and making them extraordinary.

  • Claire’s Bonus Post: My own version of Trash to Treasure. Check out a $6 flea market get a MAJOR MAKEOVER.

NURSERY DESIGN

5. MY DOMAINE’s got a round up of awesome NURSERY DESIGNS and some helpful budgeting ideas.

  • Claire’s Bonus Post: Take a peek at this AFFORDABLE NURSERY design done with items from Target and BuyBuy Baby only.

 AND HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

XO – CLAIRE


DIY Upholstery Lesson with Recovered Interior

I get so much satisfaction from taking something old, forgotten and (let’s be honest) ugly and making it new and awesome! This satisfaction is greatly increased when I’m able to score the old item for a bargain, and use a little DIY elbow grease in the transformation process. I found these super 70s bentwood ottomans at Randolph Street Market this summer for $6 bucks a piece.

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At the time, I had no perfect project for these babies, but I knew they’d look great with a makeover. When I contacted Kylie Egge, of Recovered Interiorto arrange her Women Who MAKE interview I asked her if she’d being willing to share her DIY upholstery tips on the blog. She said yes, and I had the perfect little project in mind, these bentwood ottomans!

The following steps will work just as well for chair with a removable seat, and the upholstery part of the makeover took us about 45 minutes in total! The amazing paint job on the ottomans/stools was courtesy of my girl MegMade. I highly recommend Meg Piercy and her fabulous company for any painting or refinishing job large or small (they have upholstery services as well). Meg’s team can create just about any finish or color for your item, which is very appealing to me as a designer…but of course, spray paint will do just fine!

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STEP 1

  • Kylie and I were able to easily pop the ottoman lids out with a little prying. Then it was time to remove the old layers of staples with a staple lifter/remover. This was the most time consuming and hardest part, but once you get into a rhythm it goes fast. This tool is about $5 at any hardware store.

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STEP 2

  • After removing the old fabric we checked the foam. This foam was still in pretty good shape. If your foam looks old or really flat it would be a good idea to cut a new piece using the old one as a template. You can find basic upholstery resources like foam and dacron at JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby.
  • Next we covered the foam and wood with a layer of dacron, which is the white batting. Something like THIS from JoAnn’s should work well.
  • You’ll need a pretty heavy duty staple gun to reupholster quickly. Kylie had an awesome pneumatic staple gun that uses a portable air compressor, but a regular staple gun is fine! Just make sure if your seat is thin (this was a very thin board) that your staple length is the right size.
  • Make sure to give yourself a nice two inch border all the way around the seat, and staple close the edge. Cut off the excess when finished.

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STEP 3

  • Fabric time! Layout your fabric and take a measurement of the width/length of your piece. Again, make sure to leave yourself an extra few inches on all sides, especially if you want some play to move around the pattern on the fabric.
  • Make some cutting guidelines with a ruler and a pencil and cut out your pieces.

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  • Now you’ll place the fabric over the seat, and repeat the same process you used with the dacron/ white batting. Of course, you will want to be a little more careful since this is the fabric portion! Make sure to work opposite corners first. For this circle, we did the top and bottom first and then added a few staples to the sides before finishing it all around.
  • The PRO TIP is to make sure a turn the seat over to look at how the fabric is lying before stapling it all into place. You can still pull and manipulate the placement of the fabric when just three or four corners are stapled. Pull tightly! Trim excess.

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STEP 4

  • Finish the back of the seat with an underling. JoAnn’s carries THIS black utility underlining.
  • Cut the lining to size (adding those extra inches again), and then roll the edge under as you staple to create a nice finished look.

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STEP 5

  • Place your seat back into its frame. You may need some glue or finishing nails to secure your piece. We used a little bit of hot glue to secure the ottomans.

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STEP 6

  • Enjoyed your finished piece!

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Remember the bad brown 70s before photo? I love the sleek and mod updated ottomans! Hope you are inspired to give DIY upholstery a try at home!

SPECIAL THANKS to Kylie Egge of Recovered Interior, Meg Piercy of MegMade, and photographer Carolina Mariana for their contributions to this post.

XOXO – CLAIRE


Women Who MAKE: Recovered Interior

February 1, 2016 Interviews 0 Comments
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Happy February friends, I’m excited to welcome you to another edition of Women Who MAKE. This month’s feature combines two of my very favorite things VINTAGE FURNITURE + TEXTILES! My happy place! See proof of me WAY too excited about said vintage couch covered in amazing textile in the photo below.

This month Carolina Mariana, my WWM partner and photographer, and I traveled just up the road to meet with Kylie Egge, owner and designer at RECOVERED INTERIOR. Kylie and I have worked together on a few client projects, and I was wowed by how fabulous she is to collaborate with. Kylie also recently moved her work studio to a larger space (in the same building) and we got the first look at how it’s all coming together!

This space is also where Kylie also holds her 3-day reupholstery courses. I was lucky enough to get some one-on-one attention during our shoot, and next week I’ll share an easy DIY reupholstery makeover. It’s a pretty serious transformation for not much $$$. Stay tuned!

Here’s more from Kylie, or should I say…here’s more from one badass creative lady whose not scared of the old, the dirty, or the dumpster. Transformation is the business she’s in!

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Name: Kylie Egge

Age: 32

Current title/company name: Owner, Recovered Interior Inc.

Years in operation: Over 6 years

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What is your first memory of making [art]/being creative?

Convincing my mother to allow me to create a giant abstract wave mural on my bedroom wall after seeing something similar at Sea World. It was pretty great.

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How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner?

I have worked in high end furniture showrooms for almost 10 years and also have an interior design degree. The real life experience learned from working in different areas of the business helped me to envision how I wanted my company to look and run. I will say that starting my own business was still leap of faith but really worth it if it’s your goal.

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Tell us about the process of launching your own business. Best parts? Biggest challenge?

Biggest challenges:

  • paperwork
  • taxes
  • legal documents!

I think all creatives would agree that this is the boring and tedious part of owning a business but of course a necessary evil. The best part is making a client happy. There’s nothing better than a great before and after.

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What is your favorite part of the creative process? What inspires you and why?

Collaboration. I am inspired by my client’s interests, spaces and needs. This is the most important part of our process and really the entire reason for what we do!

What is the best advice you have for other female entrepreneurs?

Do your best to balance your personal time with work time. It can be hard to stop working when email is always at your fingertips, and if you have really supportive friends who are willing to listen to you talk about business for hours. Everyone needs down time to relax and stay excited about work.

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Do you have a design philosophy, and if so, what is it?

No rules, just go where the space and client takes us.

Imagine your business in five years. How would you like to grow?

Oddly, I really don’t like to think too far into the future. Looking back five years ago I couldn’t have predicted where I am today. I do know that no matter how much we grow I want to keep our process really personal. I like meeting each and every client and hope that five years from now we are still producing our best work.

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Do you have a most popular item?

We really offer services more than products so our reupholstery services and custom furniture is an everyday request. We also offer a “Learn to Recover” basic upholstery class that has been really popular and super fun.

What do you enjoy most about the creative community here in Chicago?

My experience with the Chicago creative community has been really supportive. It’s a group that loves to collaborate, send referrals and spread the word when in admiration of good work.

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Centered By Design is my business name, but it’s also the idea that we can find a bit of sanctuary each day through design, that good design can center us and make us feel great. Does your design process center you in any way? If so, how?

The definition of “recover” is to 1) to cover again or anew 2) to reclaim a former and better state 3) to heal, mend, and recuperate.

I chose my company name for all of the above definitions. Obviously reupholstery is about recovering a piece of furniture in a new fabric, but it is also about holding on to pieces that have meaning and originality. What centers me is really knowing that we are helping to promote well-made furniture.

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Kylie’s Chicago Favorites:

Favorite spot to get inspired: Fishman’s Fabrics

Favorite florist: Sprout Home

Favorite place to shop for home décor/furniture/thrift: Scout and Coyle & Herr

Favorite place for coffee: The Mothership

Favorite place for a sweet treat: Not really into sweets, how about a sushi treat?! Kai Zan is my favorite! My mouth is now watering.

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Thanks for hanging with us Kylie! Hope to see one of YOU in the upholstery course with me sometime soon.

XO – CLAIRE


Before + After: Modern Condo Design Makeover

January 31, 2016 Before + After 1 Comment

Since a picture is worth a 1,000 words, I thought it best to show you this makeover through the images and drawings we used to create this modern family condo. This newly constructed building had lots of wonderful natural light and my clients chose top of the line finishes for their brand new kitchen. Yet, there was still a lot to be desired in the beige rectangular floor plan. We worked together to design a modern and eclectic living and dining area that feels a little warm, a little bohemian and little bit mid-century!

BEFORE

Just moved in and the long living space was giving them a tough time of where to arrange furniture.

Just moved in and the long living space was giving them a tough time of where to arrange furniture.

Lots of beige that needed some attitude!

Lots of beige that needed some attitude!

There was a great dining table and sofa to work the room design around. The existing rug was repurposed in a bedroom.

There was a great dining table and sofa to work the room design around. The existing rug was repurposed in a bedroom.

DESIGN PLANNING + PROCESS

Digital design board with my recommended selections for the space.

Digital design board with my recommended selections for the space.

Quick hand sketch of the suggested floor plan.

Quick hand sketch of the suggested floor plan.

AFTER – MODERN CONDO DESIGN MAKEOVER

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What do you think of the makeover?! I’d love to hear from you.

*After photography by Carolina Mariana.

XO – CLAIRE


Damn Good Design Articles: Edition 1

Today I’m starting a new kind of post, my first “round-up” of sorts! I’m always scouring the web for all things design. While doing so, I come across a lot of not-so-great articles, which usually leave me dissapointed and feeling tricked by the awesome photos but lack of helpful or insightful content. On the other hand, every week I come across a few stellar articles that need to chronicled and shared! Hence this new round up of my favorite and most helpful design articles as of late.

DAMN GOOD DESIGN ARTICLES: EDITION 1

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1. Five tips from designer/builder Leigh Herzig on how to “GET THE LOOK FOR LESS” via Remodelista

2. Designers predict 2016 TRENDS – I agree with them all! via RUE Mag

3. Design*Sponge is on point with 10 INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS from inspiring worldy museums

4. Seriously good designer tips for decorating a SMALL SPACE via My Domaine

5. Apartment Therapy to the rescue with a seriously cool DIY WALLPAPER that’s really removable fabric. I’ve actually seen this done twice and it’s amazing.

Let me know what links or sites you love for design articles!

XO – CLAIRE

 


DIY Copper Bar Plant Holder

January 20, 2016 DIY Projects 0 Comments
DIY copper bar plant holder

Yesterday it was – 20 degrees with the windchill, and if you’re anything like me you’ve been dreaming of the beach. If you’re feeling starved for flowers and greenery, or have simply been meaning to get more house plants – this is the DIY for you. CRAZY EASY. Really, there are no tools involved and only five supplies and five steps are needed!

You may remember some of these images from the Foxtail + Moss Studio Makeover Collaboration. I had the best time creating a little boho magic with fellow Chicago bloggers, Lauren and Claire! This project was part of the makeover, and I thought it was finally time to give you all some quick and easy instructions.

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DIY Copper Bar Plant Holder

Supply List:

  • ½” copper pipe from hardware store
  • macramé or twisted cotton rope
  • 2 screw hooks
  • level
  • plants in hanging baskets

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Instructions:

  • Assess the height and width appropriate for copper bar, estimate yardage of cotton rope you’ll need based on your ceiling height.
  • Have copper pipe cut to size at hardware store if necessary.
  • Make sure to evenly space your screw hooks on the ceiling.
  • Thread cotton rope through the pipe and secure with knots onto screw hooks, use the level to make sure copper bar is straight.
  • Hang your favorite plants!

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Get that green thumb going!

XO – CLAIRE

*all photos courtesy of Foxtail + Moss


48 Hours: A Weekend City Guide to San Francisco

January 11, 2016 City Guides 0 Comments
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I’ve always wanted to be a California girl. Right after college, I moved to San Francisco to work with Habitat for Humanity through a year-long volunteer program. It was one of the hardest years of my life (growing up stuff / big college break-up) but also one of the best because San Francisco is so darn cool!

I felt like I could be anyone I wanted to be in California. The easy going vibes are good for my soul, and every time I visit I still think WHY DON’T I LIVE HERE?! While I’m no longer local, I thought I could give you my take on a quick city guide to San Francisco.

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The lovely photographer, Carolina Mariana and I returned last October to interview some kick-ass ladies for the Women Who MAKE Series, and I was reminded of all my favorites.

Here’s what I’d do (and did) with 48-hours in San Fran.

STAY 

  • Haight-Ashbury
  • Cole Valley
  • The Castro

I love these neighborhoods because they are close to Golden Gate Park and walking distance to the Muni and BART transit lines, which can get you everywhere. They are also walking distance to my old neighborhood, The Mission District, which is a creative and cool hub. Also, most of these neighborhoods are up in the hills a bit, so you get good views! Look for an Airbnb or B&B with a roof deck!

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DAY 1

Use the easy public transit system to make your way into the city center. There is the MUNI system and the BART (high speed trail). Head downtown on Market Street. If you get off at the Powell stop, you’ll be right in the heart of the downtown. Try any and all of the following:

MORNING:

Stroll up market street and find the hidden gem – Blue Bottle Coffee, in Mint Plaza. My favorite San Fran coffee bar.

Hop on a cable car and ride up to Coit Tower and take in 360-degree views of the city and bay, including the Golden Gate and Bay bridges.

AFTERNOON:

Walk along the Embarcadero and visit the Ferry Building, which is the most amazing permanent farmer’s market around. Have lunch at one of the tables near the water, on the back side of the building.

Stop at Union Square and watch everyone enjoying their lunch break outside. Those CA perks! Pop into the LEVI’S store and grab some 501s (the birth of blue jeans happened with a patent for rivets in San Francisco).

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EVENING:

Head back towards Golden Gate Park for a sunset stroll.

If it’s Wednesday try the special wood fired pizza night at Marla Bakery (in the Outer Richmond) and don’t miss roller skating in a church that’s been converted to a roller rink! That’s right the Church of 8 Wheels was pretty sweet, and the disco music was perfectly retro.

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DAY 2

MORNING:

Wake up and head directly to Tartine in the Mission District.  Arguably, the best bread and pastry in the city. Brunch, chocolate cake or just bread for breakfast – you’ll be happy.

Walk a few block to Mission Dolores Park. A perfect place for San Fran people watching. I used to think, “Doesn’t anyone in California have a job?” The park is usually full of happy picnicking people, often with a hula hoop or slack line in hand.

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AFTERNOON:

Make your way over to Valencia Street. You could spend hours browsing all the cool shops. Don’t miss my favorite vintage at Wallflower.

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The Mission is also known for it’s colorful murals. Keep your eye’s peeled. Here’s a guide to some specific mural locals.

And when you need a snack don’t miss the best ice cream EVER at Bi Rite Creamery.

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EVENING:

If you’re a design buff, you’ll want to be sure to make it over to the boutiques on Sacramento Street before closing time. Don’t miss St. Frank Textiles, Serena + Lily, and Jessie Black Home.

Try upscale American fare with seafood options at Spruce for dinner.

If you’re renting a car and have a bit more time try…

  • Sausalito for a day trip 
  • Baker Beach
  • Muir Woods / Stinson Beach / Bonitas – great hiking

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Happy Trails!

XOXO – CLAIRE


DIY Wall Art Projects with Wallpaper

There is no denying that wallpaper is back in vogue big time. This month on #WomenWhoMake, I featured artisan textile and wallpaper designer Erin Minckley Chlaghmo of Relativity Textiles. Erin’s papers make you want to do something with wallpaper in your home immediately! (at least they make me feel that way). And amazing wallpaper lines are popping up everywhere. See this post from last year on my favorite wallpaper lines.

DIY wall paper projects centered by design

I do frequently hear from friends and clients that wallpaper scares them. It feels costly, permanent and likely to go out of style. Below are my favorite ways to welcome wallpaper into your home. The last item we will explore as a DIY wall art project – there are so many great ways to get the high impact color, pattern and texture wallpaper offers into your home. Don’t be scared!

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Love this collection of framed papers with white borders from Atlanta Homes magazine.

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See below for links to create wallpaper panels. These are my favorite ideas! Images via Apartment Therapy, & Welcome to the Mouse House.

Low Commitment High Impact Ways to Use Wallpaper in Your Home:

  • Use wallpaper in smaller spaces like the entry and powder room.
  • Use wallpaper as a feature wall. This works best in a bedroom, usually on the wall with the headboard.
  • Use wallpaper above chair rail only. Works very wall in hallways and dining rooms.
  • Frame wall paper or create wall paper panels and create high-impact art work, without the hassle of installing wallpaper.

DIY wall paper projects centered by design

At Erin’s home and studio we did a super quick version of framing wallpaper. Here’s what you need:

  • Cutting mat (helps a lot)
  • Straight edge
  • X-Acto knife or other cutting blade
  • Frame/s of choice
  • Wallpaper/s of choice
  • Tape

DIY wall paper projects centered by design

The steps are kind of a no-brainer but I’ll give you some tips!

  • Decide if you want to fill the entire frame with wallpaper, create the mat out of wallpaper (see pictures below for examples) or just use paper inside of mat (see Atlanta Home example above). Depending on your desired outcome you could mix this up on a gallery wall or stick to one look.
  • Use the frame and mat to help guide your cutting and sizing.
  • If you are using mats a bit of tape on the back of paper/images can help keep things perfectly aligned.

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Creating the wallpaper panels is a little more involved, but does not look too difficult! I have not tried it myself, but cannot wait for the opportunity to give it a go! If it comes up with a client this year, I’ll be sure to blog about it. For now, if you’re interested this tutorial from Hunted Interior looks great!

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Wallpaper panels by blogger Hunted Interior.

Happy Creating!

XO – CLAIRE

 


Women Who MAKE: Relativity Textiles

Erin Relativity Textiles

I’m really excited for you all to meet Erin. This woman is making it HAPPEN with her own two hands! She’s juggling motherhood, coupled with acting as the creative director, artist, producer, sometimes installer and all the time boss lady of RELATIVITY TEXTILES. An artisan wallpaper and textile design company based in Chicago.

A good friend introduced me to Erin as a “mover and shaker” that I needed to meet in the creative community, and we really hit it off. Erin’s DIY spirit shines through, and I can tell just how much she’s invested both creatively and financially to grow her fledgling company. If you’re loving what you see in this post, check out Erin’s KICKSTARTER campaign. She is more than halfway to her goal of $20,000 to get her company started on a solid foundation, and she has amazing offerings at various donation levels – including a wallpaper installation in your space!

Photographer Carolina Mariana and I had a lovely morning at Erin’s home and studio last month. During our visit, we also worked on some easy DIY projects created with Relativity papers. Stay tuned for that post soon! For added inspiration around textiles and pattern design, check out Erin’s Blog – this teaching artist has so much knowledge to share!

Here’s the first Women Who MAKE interview of 2016:

Name: Erin Minckley Chlaghmo

Age: 33

Current title/company name: Founder, Relativity Textiles, LLC.

Years in operation: less than 1 year

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Erin’s wallpaper sample book.

What is your first memory of making [art]/being creative? I have associated myself as an artist for as long as I can remember. I loved art as a child and through high school believed it was my best skill. I knew I would study art in college and wanted to be an artist as a career.

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A DIY wallpaper display housing several of Erin’s original patterns.

How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner?

I worked for two years in the industry side of wallpaper manufacturing and saw a lot of well established designers produce patterns. I loved seeing things from an insider’s point of view because it informed how I might want to run my own business model. Many designers were very generous in helping me start out! They answered questions of mine and gave me resources. My schooling did not help me to become a business person at all. But, it did train me rigorously on how to make things well and how to talk about them. I developed many skills in art school that later come into play as a designer. 

Confidence is something that only comes with more and more practice. Being out in the world and talking about your work and presenting your work to people is the only way to gain self-empowerment. You have to say things like, “I am a wallpaper designer,” instead of what I used to say is, “I’d like to own my own company some day.” It’s not even a fake it till you make it attitude as much as it is, work hard until it exists in the form you imagine it. I am the owner of a business that will someday be very successful and I have to constantly convince myself of that in order to project that onto future clients and colleagues. 

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Erin’s Boteh pattern – her boots were part of the design inspiration, as were her family travels to Morocco.

Tell us about the process of launching your own business. Best parts? Biggest challenge?

Well, I did not win the lottery in terms of financial backing or family support. So, I had to scrape things together in the beginning. This was the biggest hurdle to actually starting. There’s a lot of vulnerability at first. “What if I don’t sell anything?” I kept asking myself. But, I had to power through that doubt and find more creative ways to spend my time thinking. I have hired a tribe of people to surround me and support me in making this dream a reality. I LOVE the fact that I am not only supporting other economies by doing so, but I have an intimate group of believers who is spreading my gospel for me too! I have a life coach, an attorney, a web designer, a graphic designer, two interns, a manufacturing team, a print shop who makes my packaging, and five amazing showrooms who promote me! The best part has been realizing that there is a true desire to connect from patrons and supporters. A lot of people are excited about my project and company. A lot of people want to drink my KoolAid. That’s a great feeling, because it means my energy is meaningful and also that my product is sellable. 

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Chatting about business, design and wallpaper with Erin and her intern.

What is your favorite part of the creative process? What inspires you and why?

The creative process might seem fun. But, it’s work. Hard work. I have to force myself to draw and step patterns in Illustrator. I have to allot time for that, which I’m not good at. I have to do a tremendous amount of visual research to see what is out there, what has been done before and what is relevant. This takes time and there’s no magic answer for how to do it; no seminar to learn this stuff. You just have to do it. So, I guess, this is a let down: but my answer is that the best part of the creative process is when it’s not for work. Like pleasure reading as a grad student, block printing or painting which is NOT related to Relativity is the most fun because there’s less pressure. Sometimes those images make their way into the collection. 

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An original drawing by Erin that inspired her iterations of the Peacock pattern in the collection.

I am inspired by historical textiles and global textiles. There’s a huge trend for African prints, Japanese shibori & indigo dyeing or Moroccan carpets. That is a wonderful embrace of the world’s cultures but also can be tricky when we appropriate. So, I want to create things that are “inspired by” the world but not belonging to any other maker, whether current or historical. I love William Morris’s wallpapers, I love Japanese Samurai block prints, I love Indian block printing techniques, I love embroidery and lace making techniques. I’m a total nerd for textile PROCESS so it is all I can do to not drool over books of Dutch wax cloth or quilts all day long. The reason is because there’s an embedded meaning in these cloths, a currency in the time and labor that the maker put into them and a relevance to our daily lives. Sometimes when I introduce myself to someone as a Textile Designer, they say… “What is a textile, exactly?” Anything you sit on or cover your body in is a textile. There’s more to it than that, but could we live without clothing or couches or seats in our cars? Not comfortably. So, we rely on these things. Why not adorn ourselves and our homes with things that symbolize who we are and decorate our lives with beautiful objects?

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A peek at Erin’s living room.

What is the best advice you have for other female entrepreneurs?

1. You can do it. And 2. Ask for help. I had a lot of negative voices in my head talking me down from my dreams a year ago. I didn’t have the money, I didn’t have as much experience as others, I didn’t know enough. But, those conversations are not getting you anywhere. Yes, there will always be people with more money, time and resources than you. But, no Master’s degree or bank account can compete with a good idea. If you have something, find a way to promote it. It might mean a better website. It might mean networking with different crowds of people. It might mean you need to get on the radio and tell people about your idea. But, you won’t reach that goal unless you give yourself a deadline and take some action. If you don’t know the answers, find someone who does. That doesn’t literally mean, open up the phone book and find an intellectual property attorney. It means, look around you and see what you have. You might have a friend who’s friend is a successful business owner and you’d like to have coffee with him/her and pick their brain. Ask your friend for an introduction. You have to ask in order to receive. And you can’t hope something will happen, you can only work to make it happen. No one is going to discover you. You have to promote yourself until the right person hears you.

Taking a quick break for a few snuggles with her youngest.

Do you have a design philosophy, and if so, what is it?

My design philosophy is to be inspired by the world, paying homage to every maker who came before me. To always create original, hand drawn or handmade objects. To promote artisans with skills in their trade or craft. To elevate the roll of the textile to the forefront of our modern life. To source ethically and support local businesses. And to promote as many other small businesses & creatives in the process of promoting myself. 

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A wall in Erin’s home showcasing the Kanoko print.

Imagine Relativity Textiles in five years. How would you like to grow?

Relativity could be a name in the industry in five years. I’d like to have five more collections, each by different artists. I want to have industrially fire rated vinyls for commercial use and a line of fabrics. I’d like to be supported by showrooms around the country and internationally. I’d like to attend trade fairs and be featured in magazines. I’d like to collaborate with some celebrity designers and do custom work for big clients. And most of all, I’d like to own a property in Chicago where our workroom can be built and support the jobs of many printers and designers. 

Erin’s son’s nursery.

Do you have a most popular item? 

Kilim. This pattern was our very first and has been installed in a few different iterations. As of now, that is our most popular design. It’s based on Moroccan rug patterns.

What do you enjoy most about the creative community here in Chicago?

Chicago is very diverse and has a long history of immigrants. People work very hard to make something out of nothing, including my Irish ancestors who came to Chicago. Nowadays the cost of living is cheap enough that you can live and have a studio and pursue your art. I admire all of the artists who I went to school with and studied under who are devoted to their studio practice and work many other jobs to support their ‘habit’ of art making.  The energy is a hard-working energy and an energy of survival & innovation. Artists are devoted and supportive and it’s a very small community so its relatively easy to get to know people.

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Centered By Design is my business name, but it’s also the idea that we can find a bit of sanctuary each day through design, that good design can center us and make us feel great. Does your design process center you in any way? If so, how?

Relativity Textiles is founded on Einstein’s theory of relativity. It states that two people looking at the same object have very different perspectives of the same thing, based on their proximity and momentum. I like that as a metaphor for design. We are possibly looking at the same room or building or garment and each of us has a different opinion or perspective based on our lived experience. I think the center of that statement is that we can be connected by human threads like beauty or the need to belong to a community, which is why I design things. My center is being connected to other like-minded people. That brings my life meaning and I feel valuable to society.

relativity textiles DIY

A little look at the DIY project we worked on. How-to coming in the next post.

Erin’s Chicago Favorites: 

Favorite spot to get inspired: The Art Institute of Chicago. 

Favorite florist: Adams & Sons.

Favorite place to shop for home décor/furniture/thrift: 

I love this little shop in my neighborhood called Humboldt House. They have amazing rugs and furniture. They sell other gifts and things made by local artisans. Next door, practically, is a nursery with great plants and flowers, Adams & Sons. They are so friendly and reasonably priced. They have pumpkins, Christmas trees, and they’ll pot any plant for you in a pretty pot so you don’t have to.

Favorite place for coffee: 

C.C. Fern’s. I have a lot of business meetings there. The coffee is good but the ambiance of the place is amazing. You feel truly hip and wealthy when sitting in there. The vibe is good and the staff is kind.

Favorite place for a sweet treat: 

Roeser’s Bakery on North Avenue and Kedzie. It has cookies and pastries from all over the world: Polish, Puerto Rican, etc. Plus, my great friend from college’s family has owned the bakery for over 100 years. Mr. Roeser is one of the sweetest guys in Chicago. I highly recommend their donuts.

THANK YOU ERIN for your heartfelt and thoughtful answers! You can find more of Erin at http://relativitytextiles.com/

Next Women Who MAKE will be up the first week February.

XO – CLAIRE


A Quick Look Back on 2015

centered by design claire

It’s been quite the eventful year and my top nine posts on Instagram sums it up pretty well – design, design, and more design! I’ve had the opportunity to work on some really fun projects this year, and have found so much inspiration on Instagram and from other talented designers. From the top left corner and moving left to right, here’s what happened this year:

1. Created the coolest custom kilim carpet runner of my dreams for client #projectcoachhouse – before and after pictures of the whole project should be coming your way on a national design website this winter : )

2. I’m always finding inspiration on Instagram accounts and one of my favorites is DABITO. This quirky gallery wall got a whole lot of likes.

3. Collaborated with local bloggers Foxtail + Moss and re-designed their studio space, complete with some awesome DIY projects.

4. The custom table and entryway styling for client #bucktownsinglefamily was re-pinned by Chairish – so cool! This awesome decor site has the best vintage finds and vendors from around the country.

5. It was definitely the year of the succulent. This image was a Pinterest find, but my go-to-guy for all things plants here in Chicago is Alapash. Love you Marco!

6. Another one of my favorite sources for design inspiration is RUE Magazine. This stunning living room came from their online magazine.

7. My living room made it into the mix and this lovely photograph was from my interview with TheEverygirl – it was an honor to be featured on their site, which has great advice and content for women in their 20s and 30s.

8. Another picture from #projectcoachhouse this time with a stunning custom dresser from MegMade, another local vendor that has really helped make my year. Love ya Meg!

9. Lastly, my great friend and client #therosshouse ‘s living room and entire home renovation was featured on Design*Sponge.

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As I move into 2016, there are exciting things on the horizon such as buying our first home, continuing to knock out classes for my design degree, and freelancing with Kate Marker Interiors – so much to learn, so many spaces to design!

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Thanks for taking a quick look back at 2015 with me! Here’s to all things good in 2016.

MUCH LOVE – XO

CLAIRE