Our favorite sustainable textile designer, Kate Miller of elworthy studio, just premiered a new collection of fabric and wallpaper and we couldn't be more excited with the outcome. The second collection, titled Clair Obscur, is centered around warm metallics, moody blues, and bold patterns for an eclectic, textured feel. We've caught up with Kate to learn more about the inspirations behind her beautiful fabrics and wallcoverings and what we can expect to see from her next.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your new collection.
Kate Miller: The collection was "born" last fall when I visited the Getty Museum and was completely captivated by their photography exhibit "Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography." It featured a group of photographers working with alternative photographic methods, and I decided I absolutely had to explore these processes firsthand.
How does the photographic process come into play in the production of the new collection?
KM: The collection's designs are adapted from original photographic prints that I made by hand with camera-less processes such as chemigrams and lumen prints. With photo paper as my surface, I used hand painting and printmaking techniques to create marks and texture using commonplace objects, such as pieces of wood, paper, and natural sea sponges. Watching colors change and deepen as the light and photographic chemicals interacted with the paper, I waited for exactly the right moment to halt the process with a stop bath and fixer. The developed prints were then scanned into my computer and finessed until the designs were finalized and ready to be printed onto eco-friendly fabrics and wallcoverings.
At first glance, the patterns and colors of Clair Obscur collection are incredibly different from your debut Decay collection. How do the two relate? What themes from the first collection did you play with for the second?
KM: It actually feels like a natural extension of Decay. Both rely on a palette of earth tones balanced with pops of bolder color, and both feature plenty of texture and the wabi-sabiness that can only occur when creating by hand.
While each collection explored a unique theme, both relied heavily on an unconventional approach to fine art and craft processes. Furthermore, I've realized that I have a fascination with time, and time's effect on the materials I work with I've experimented with old materials that many people might consider "useless" and coaxed out their hidden beauty. With the new collection, I used expired papers from a range of manufacturers over the decades, which expanded the color nuances and outcome.
Another common theme is the juxtaposition of contrasting elements. Both collections combine romantic with edgy, organic with geometric, and moody with bright. The new collection emphasizes the contrast of light and dark, revealing subtle transitions from shadowy dark to shimmery bright...hence the name Clair Obscur!
We are excited to hear that some of your new wallpapers will be scalable for wall murals. Tell us more!
Yes! Two of the photographic prints I made just begged to be wall murals rather than repeat prints. The Golden Hour mural evokes late afternoon sunlight reflecting on rippling water, while the Illume mural features the silhouetted memory of a ribbon, dynamically cascading across the surface. Both are by custom order, available on clay-coated paper or Type II paper, and sure to make a statement!
What's next for elworthy studio? Any new pillows in the future?
It's been an incredibly busy (and rewarding) few months, launching Clair Obscur then traveling to all my showroom cities to introduce the line to new clients. Now, I can't wait to get back in the studio to create! I'll be exploring some ideas for a capsule collection I am working on, as well as a collaboration with some amazing Bay Area designers.
elworthy studio's fabrics and wallpapers are available through Quintus or online at www.elworthystudio.com. For a full list of showroom vendors and information on elworthy studio's commitment to the environment, please visit their website.