A Big Leap from my style to Heather and Matt of French and French Interiors!
Patterns from nature are so lovely in interior design. How I get inspiration? Often it’s to look outdoors and to look UP, for starters. That rowdy raven in our office courtyard demands attention. Talking right to me, sitting high in a lacy green-gold canopy of elm leaves. And that’s a pattern I have used.
Or as Maurice Sendak says in a charming children’s book . . .
But I would say, be quiet near a little stream and LOOK
Looking UP CLOSE works well. Patterns from nature really are prevalent in interior design. This blending of these bark patterns, blurred and abstract, now so reminiscent in glass and even wood mosaic tiles.
Then there are delightful patterns in urban ife . . . I really go into a zone on my infrequent city trips. Glass and steel, sidewalks and bridges, lights and pavement. Strong patterns, with plenty of mood.
And how can an artist or designer not be inspired by views from a taxi like this? Living in New York off and on for short periods I was enchanted just by taxi rides at dark.I’ve got reams of photos of both types textures. As for using them, I see many photographically represented in fabrics, wall coverings, tile, and rugs, as well as artistically rendered by fabric designers and fine artists crossing over to interior design products.
So these patterns are really texture
Nature’s and urban patterns are really as much about wildly creative textures than about man-made pattern.
Artist drawn patterns
Creations by textile designers and fine artists, fabric patterns are so often inspired by nature and city life, but augmented by anything else that occurs in the wild mind. With weirdly creative palettes and subjects, myriad artistic hand drawn designs do look as interesting as our land and cityscapes.
Colorful abstract, from the bird nest, or more floating images of seedling flowers.
And then a cityscape, sweet and abstract.
Occasional pillows? drapery? or a rug? NO PROBLEM
But going bravely into artistically rendered pattern in interior design?
This is pretty scary for many of us, including designers, but masterfully done by Heather and Matt of French and French Interiors. Seeing their room at ShowHouse Santa Fe 2017 was a daily joy and inspiration. I loved to watch the work as the room developed. I think Heather chose one beloved fabric pattern, on these pillows and two chairs, and riffed off that like a jazz musician.
This is what I would call a delirious riot of pattern!
The fabric is on two pillows and two chairs and everything else pulls from it, and highlights it. The rug, the bold drapes, the artwork…it all creates a controlled explosion of pattern and color perfect for an upbeat, color-crazy kids and family play and hangout space.
I think what they do is to choose one beloved fabric or rug pattern and carefully finding and reacting to patterns of different scales, so as not to compete heavily with the base pattern. And don’t forget art. It’s even more layers of pattern and quite a wow factor in the choices in this room. More of the room at French and French Interiors.
So, how to start with pattern? And where to go?
Why not start with kids or guest rooms that are perhaps not the biggest rooms in your home or environment. A family hangout or TV room would be another place to try the approach and it surely worked for French and French at the showhouse.
Of course I’ve seen Heather start with a color theme as well, in a bold or even very subtle small patterned fabric, but then quickly depart into an array of other patterns, larger or smaller, with some colors in them that I just would not have envisioned as working, but they do!
Themes can inform the use of pattern
Another way to play with pattern, I’ve often used, is thematically. For example, we don’t have too many horse ranches right in here town, but I have seen a horseback theme used in a manner that is sophisticated, and not as hokey as it might sound.
And Heather and Matt have used animal themes many times. It’s a natural theme for kids rooms. Their abstract butterflies and wondrous flower motifs in a delightful girl’s room comes to mind.
As does the little foxes wallpaper in a baby boy’s room.
Another theme that I’ve worked around, and that is much more prevalent in our region, is an art collection. A favorite client has a large Asian one, for example, here with both a handsome kite artifact and a gong, and other patterns. It contrasts well with heavy textures, in its delicacy, as in this fireplace wall.
Or with intense colors like this fireplace, bedding and drapery combination, accented with the tribal feathered mask. Using lots of pattern is a true departure for many designers and clients alike. My comfort zone includes textures with strong colors and artifacts. But it has been great to start thinking about intentional patterns, and how to appreciate and incorporate them.
To summarize what I’ve been learning, grounding in a color palette, or a texture that you love, and then picking a strong or a subtle pattern using the palette is one jumping off point
Adding the perfect trims, art and lighting adds more of the unique touches designers bring.
I am less shy about using patterns since studying this great design duo’s, Heather and Matt French, use of it.