Keeping Time: Customization in the 21st Century

If you knew me, and some of you do, you would know that I am not patient. It’s not a charming or cute quality. Oh I’m sure if I was played by some Hollywood starlet in a movie of my life, they could make you adore me and my foot tapping impatience, but taking a breath and thinking it out has its advantages. I suppose this is a cautionary tale of sorts in that regard.

I can’t be alone in wanting things to happen quickly, and to be customized to my liking. I cannot wait for the day that I can point my digitized magic wand toward an upholstered piece from one of my flips and change the color. You were blue, and now I wish for you to be white, or cream, or pale grey. The possibilities are endless and so is the trouble you could get into. We’re not quite there, but we are getting close.

OKL. Palette . Daphne Slipper Chair . $474.50

It’s pretty exciting to see generations old companies evolve, combining artisanal craftsmanship with technology. If speed to market is part of the new name game, another part is customization. So what else makes up this new world of commerce? Collaborations, you build the furniture, I’ll design the fabric and throw my back into it – or as the case may be, a name. Preferably one that is well known in the design world. Collabs are popping up all over the place. The EveryGirl, Clare Vivier, Peter Som, Joanna Gaines. X marks the collaboration and they are hot.

OKL . Palette . Pillow $64.50

I was pretty excited to see One King’s Lane jump into the X-Game with a new service called Palette. You choose from a selection of furnishings or pillows, pick your fabric, now for the colors – 15 are available, select the scale of the design – small, medium or large, and choose a finish – and a frill or two if the piece warrants it. Ta-da. You have a customized piece that will ship to you from Cloth & Company the name behind the X, from Chicago, in 3 weeks. That’s right. Customized for you and delivered in just 3 weeks.

The Inside X Clare V. Sardines Sette. Photograph copyright dan cutrona

OKL is savvy. You don’t necessarily have to invent everything. Sometimes you just need to pay close attention and connect the dots. Last year I came across a 4th Generation family owned company. It struggled and then reinvented itself. Tillett Textiles and the T4 Color Pad technology that allows you to choose from 180 patterns, 55 colors and 12 grounds – think of the possibilities of fabrics that you can have your custom pattern printed on – I need a mathematician to help me figure out just how many options , but suffice it to say – it’s a lot. Then I came across a company called The Inside. Between their collaborations, and inexpensive upholstered pieces that arrive at your doorstep – you guessed it – in 3 weeks, we are witnessing a response to a demand.

Tillett Textiles. My custom print on the bed! Photography copyright dan cutrona

OKL married the two concepts, and like I said in the beginning…it’s magic.

Sail Cloth: Putting together a coastal fabric collection

In my mind’s eye I breeze through the perfectly designed rooms of The Manse in a flowy cotton Ulla Johnson dress,

admiring my careful selections with pride, and a knowing nod to myself, just as I imagined it would look.  In reality…there are dozens of mistakes I will make, returns, concessions, screamed vulgarities, frustration, some tears followed by elation.  If I am making it sound terrible – it’s not.  It’s this very part that keeps me going.  That has me dreaming of different color combinations, fabrics, and patterns – textures and scale.  Like a golfer that swears they will quit, and then hits a perfect shot, I’m in for life.

 

I’ve already bought, and plan to return a number of items that upon further reflection – will not work.  If this were a Chatham Bars Inn buffet – my eyes would be bigger than my stomach – the repercussions are worse than a stomach ache though, because the beds won’t fit in the rooms!  Ugh.  New plan.  While I think I’ve come up with an alternative approach, it’s a disappointment.

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Cheeky Monkey . Add a little red felt heart on Harwich and we’re in business.

I want to be sure to get the fabrics right so I am laying out several scenarios and asking for input.  Jo-Jo will weigh in here of course.  I was turned onto a fourth generation textile design company out of Sheffield, MA called Tillett Textiles & T4 run by Kathleen Tillett and son Patrick McBride.  This company is hot!  They allow you to choose your pattern and your color way along with about a dozen materials from which you can print it.  If you are in love with their designs, and want a coordinating wallcovering you might consider printing on a lightweight fabric and then having it paper backed before hanging it.  Helen Baker of Helen Baker Interiors Inc. turned me on to them.  She knows the coolest resources!

White and Blue Bedroom:  2nd Floor

Top Left:  Carp Allowed It in Navy – Tillett Textiles (Roman Shades)  Top Right:  Bolero in Indigo – Sister Parish (Window Seat Cushion) Bottom:  Beans and Boys in Red – Tillett Textiles (Pillow for Window Seat).

Sister Parish is a textile and wallcovering brand founded in 2000 to honor the style of and spirit of Sister Parish of the influential Parish-Hadley Interiors firm that famed designers Brian McCarthy and Bunny Williams once called their work home.  I became familiar with them a few years back when I saw a pattern called Serendipity with it’s happy little stars and polka dots – two things bring a smile to my face.  Their patterns are perfect for a coastal haunt.

Pink Bedroom

Left:  Mally Skok . Mewar Pink Orange. (Window Seat Pillow piped in kelly green). Right:  Sister Parish . Clara B . Simply Pink (Window Seat Cushion.

Above:  Similar Wicker Chair – Antique Market Find with Top Left:  Tillett Textiles . Puffy Petals in Forest Green.  Top Right:  Tillett Textiles . Dots of Non in Forest Green piped in pink.

Above Left:  Tillett Textiles . Dots of Non in Forest Green – converted to wallcovering for bedroom closet interior.  Right:  Sister Parish . Clara B – custom upholstered daybed.

Last year, while at the Innovation and Design Center in Boston’s Seaport, I met Mally Skok.  I went to the talk because I had seen a room she designed for a show house and I was struck by the organic patterns and playful motifs.  She has a fascinating story, and is as lovely as her designs.

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Custom Upholstered Day Bed with Trundle by livenUpdesign. Via Etsy.

I love so much of what Serena and Lily produces, but struggled with colorways that would work in this particular application.  If I have to be honest, which I do, because what’s the point of writing all this if I am not honestly sharing my preferences, thoughts, and opinions.  I’m not perfect – nobody is and NObody likes a property that looks too perfect.  It feels inauthentic (probably because nobody lives there) Don’t you forget that.

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Louis J. Solomon . Commode for inside the closet nook.

So S & L is out and I am embracing a mix of designers that you may know, and others who may be new to you.  I do hope you approve.  Comments are sometimes welcome – just kidding – if I couldn’t accept input and alternative suggestions, where would I be?  Please do write.