By Design: Pam Marshall on Designing Prints2021-05-13
Cheerful, optimistic, and full of energy, Schumacher x Margaux was inspired by vivacious and stylish creatives—and in celebration of the collaboration we're featuring several such tastemakers, from top interior designers and style connoisseurs to creators and curators at Schumacher.
We're collecting our conversations in this special "By Design" series. Below, hear how Schumacher's Vice President of Design approaches her creative role, then meet our newest Gaux Girl, designer Young Huh.
As part of our collaboration with heritage design brand Schumacher, we connected with several of the talented women working behind the scenes at the storied house. First, Creative Director Dara Caponigro shared what made working with Margaux feel like such a natural fit; now we're getting a peek into how some of these beautiful prints are brought to life.
Pam Marshall is the Vice President of Design at the brand, and, as such, has an eye on all the lines, swirls, blooms, and sprays that combine to make a gorgeous Schumacher design. Here, she shares the nuts and bolts of creating a print, where she finds inspiration, and how she's learned to accept when an idea simply isn't working.
For someone who's not familiar with your work, what does being a textile designer encompass?
At a very base level, a textile designer in the home space creates patterns for printed and woven fabrics, wallpapers and trims. I would describe textile design as a wonderful crossroads of artistry and mathematical organization. Examples of some basic considerations for each design idea are scale, repeat parameters or weaving construction to name a few.
A lot of thought goes into the technical side of design: Who is this for? How will it be used? Should it be a hand-print, a wallpaper, or a cut velvet? There are several facets that inform the way in which a design comes to life. Of equal importance to the final design is color. You can have the most incredible design, but if the beauty and mood of the color does not mirror the design it will not be successful. Overall, there are many paths to explore, but ultimately the creative vision must be matched with the finished product.
What are some of your favorite spots to get inspiration? Any unusual or unexpected sources?
I would say that it is less the source, but how the source speaks to you. With accessibility to imagery that has been created by the internet and social platforms, it sometimes seems like everyone is looking at the same things. That being said, if you look closely enough there is always something to pick up on that may go unnoticed by others. I personally love the library, where there is an endless array of old art, craft and design books on any number of subjects that can really fuel some great ideas. The images also tend not to be out there in the world quite as much. Of course there is art, fashion and even music. The best inspiration can strike at unexpected times and you have to trust your gut reaction.
Do you often know right away if a print/pattern/inspiration will work for a design or do you frequently start the design process and end up scrapping something you thought would be perfect (or, conversely, find you're surprised that something worked)?
One of the keys to success, particularly at Schumacher, is embracing the element of surprise. Sometimes there is a very clear vision that is designed and executed exactly as planned. Other times it does not happen that way, but another idea may unfold that is even better. This can mean anything from the style in which an idea was originally intended becomes something quite different, or something that we were set on creating as a print seems like it would be a much better velvet. The point is to be fluid enough in your thinking to go down another path and not feel that you must stick to the original idea just because it was planned that way. It is also important to know when to let something go. It does not mean giving up, it just means knowing something is not working as intended and it is time to move on to the next exciting thing.
Schumacher is such a heritage brand with a storied history—how do you marry that with looking toward the future and creating newness?
A mistake I see a lot from long-lived brands is a “re-do” approach in looking to the future, often resulting in erasing their core identity and alienating loyal customers. Schumacher celebrates its history, approaching each new collection and new year as a next step. We embrace new technologies where appropriate, but never as an end-all and we continue to create in old-world ways as well. We constantly challenge ourselves with bringing the best possible products to life, knowing they will be in someone’s home and that they should bring joy and be meaningful. We will continue to experiment with innovation and integration of forward-thinking ideas but will always hold ourselves accountable to the values of our impressive heritage.