Bedding design is constantly being worked on in the studio for my Vintage Modern collection at Target. Bedding starts out life as a textile, so the key is to create original bed textiles for Target that are both modern and accessible.
Every bedding introduction includes different varieties of printed patterns, paired with solid and yarn-dyed materials and other woven fabrics in special textures. This range creates versatility, so that different combinations of pattern, texture, and color can be put together and mixed over time, like separates in a wardrobe.
Each “bed” is really a group that contains several design ideas and many pieces, from sheets and shams to duvets, coverlets, and blankets. In the case of most beds, for example, there can be two very different sheets. Often one is light and one dark. A highly patterned sheet might be mixed with a solid duvet, or vice versa. The soft sheen of sateen might be matched to something nubbier, more embroidered, or more matte. These contrasts tend to create more of a layered, modern style, and they are always kept in mind when assembling all the potential components of a bed.
A design season typically starts with dozens of textile concepts. These ideas are developed on presentation boards, with samples of fabrics, color palettes, and patternwork, to be shared with the merchants at Target. It is a process that allows me to review stages of the work and talk about what is most unique and intriguing, as the beds are refined and variations are worked through over time. Even the right names become an important element of the design exploration. Pale Sky Floral, Antique Indigo Floral, Modern Charcoal, Charcoal Pinstripe, Geometric Lace, Chippendale Ring: All were part of the invention of this season’s beds and show the directions of color and mood that were under discussion.
This group of beds reflects three concepts:
(1) Modern Khaki, a neutral bed with easy woven textures
(2) Sky Floral, a soothing slate blue-grey bed with both geometrics and florals
(3) Espresso Pinstripe, a shirting stripe, menswear-inspired bed
The collection began with a set of geometric fretwork patterns that could be used different ways – intricate and small, or, modern and large. These were taken from a decades-old xeroxed book of antique English Chippendale woodwork and decoration that has been in the studio for years – a relic of a time before computer scans that provided its own interesting design contribution. In these xeroxes, the tiny Chippendale patterns are enlarged to the point where the linework shows an irregular, deckled texture. That texture became part of the weave of one of the duvet covers as well as the design of printed sateen sheets. It makes something fine and uniform appear more hand-woven and unique.
Stripes become the other pattern source to balance the detailed fretworks and the floral in the collection. Many come from classic shirting and pin stripes from men’s suiting fabrics. Another modern stripe is borrowed from an etched Lucite sculpture that I made in art school. This is a piece that I’ve used a number of ways over the years to create different products. Herringbone is a favorite striped, tailored weave that appears with cross-woven brown and black yarns, to give the fabric depth and make it tonal. One of the nice things about yarn-dyed cloth is this mix of color which can then go to more rooms and match more ways. And, stripes overall are universal. They are seasonless, and they work for masculine as well as feminine styles.
Yarn-dyed shirtcloth, as a source for striped sheets, is part of this approach. I really like the crisp feeling of yarn-dyed sheets as much as satiny ones, and I like combining elements from both of these worlds. This type of cloth is made in a lower thread count that might seem less special or refined than what we all look for in a high thread count sheet. But actually, yarn-dyed, cross-woven sheets are very fine fabrics. As in the world of home furnishings fabrics, the finer quality and more expensive textiles tend to be woven, rather than prints or basic, plain solids. Likewise, these sheets have a deceptively high quality that comes from being woven as a more complex, multi-hued textile. They are something to consider as an excellent choice for bedding, with a terrific lifespan and character.
Target works with me on the sourcing of other really unique woven fabrics for the beds. Choices for this group include a special thin-weight matelassé for one of the fretwork coverlets, and for the floral duvet, a delicate Japanese-style weave made of several gauzy layers woven together.