A picture, so the proverb says, is worth a thousand words. So what are hundreds of pieces of discarded fabric worth? Turns out they’re priceless to Annie, whom we’re pretty sure can find inspiration in an old potholder. Last week, when a generous donor offered her the throwaways from a textile archive, she unleashed this fabric frenzy in her office.
Annie painstakingly went through the collection (all seven FedEx boxes of it), which ranges from late-1800s French to early twentieth-century British to 1960s American. On the floor are the colors, patterns, and textures that caught her eye first. “I always look at the technique of the drawing,” she says. “Right now I’m into a more impressionistic style than something that’s carefully drawn.” Also on her like list: faded florals, unique colorways, and distinctive shapes. “I’m a sucker for patterns printed on linen,” she adds. “They have a subtlety that others don’t.”
On the not-so-subtle side, Annie admits to an affinity for glazed chintz, barkcloth, and punchy hooked cotton. “I’m looking for what appeals to me and what I think will appeal to customers,” she explains, showing off a trio of Old World–style patterns rendered in an unusually bright peacock and sand.
The booty is stored in stacks of containers sorted first by fabric type, then by size and type of pattern, then by era. No worries about forgetting all these goodies: Annie has an almost photographic memory for fabric. We found this out the hard way when she had a brainstorm for what would become the Plumes duvet, but the original fabric inspiration had been misplaced in the office. She eventually tracked it down, and a popular Pine Cone Hill bedcover was born.
Stay tuned for more of Annie’s inspirations—and their translations into modern design.