PACK YOUR BAGS [caption id="attachment_6701" align="aligncenter" width="2700"] Food, fauna, and art in Mexico City[/caption] One of my main philosophies in life is to take a trip once a year to somewhere entirely new. With all my personal history, years of running a tourism business, and love for global textiles and cultures -- it is important to me to take some time once a year to check myself. To help myself see and understand the world beyond the constructs we live in. The past few years I’ve taken wonderful groups of creative women to Morocco, a place close to my heart and family. We’ve been to special cities like Marrakesh and Chefchaouen, seen ruins of ancient powerful civilizations, visited natural wonders, met local artisans, tasted delicious cuisine, and bought beautiful objects and mementos to remember our time there. [caption id="attachment_6702" align="aligncenter" width="2700"] Brunch, a vista, and process in Morocco[/caption] These trips are an amazing
The team over at Relativity Textiles decided that as much as we preach about wallpaper, design, and travel -- we haven't really told you why we have the authority to talk about all this. This week we've decided to throw some real talk at you. Below our interview with Relativity Textiles founder Erin Minckley. Part 1: Who The Hell Are You? RT: Where are you from and how did that affect you growing up? [caption id="attachment_6652" align="aligncenter" width="2700"] Erin's son, Utah, and working at a wallpaper shop[/caption] EM: So I grew up in Salt Lake City Utah, which in general is a pretty homogenous place racially, culturally, religiously -- there’s just not a lot of diversity. The culture of Salt Lake is so intertwined with the Mormon church, from the way people dress to the way they speak, or the movies they watch or the rock concerts that do or don’t come to town.
An enticing stop on the Morocco trip our founder Erin leads each year, Chefchaouen is a wonderful place for some much needed R&R In the northernmost tip of the Kingdom of Morocco is a dreamscape of a city called Chefchaouen. Located in the Rif mountains, Chefchaouen is a humbly sized city in comparison to other major tourist destinations like Marrakesh and Fes. With no airport of it’s own to get there you’ll have to travel by bus, taxi, or car through the picturesque countryside. Founded in 1471 as a Moorish fortress against Spain, Chefchaouen over the centuries became an amalgam of exiles and refugees. Particularly important is the history of the Jewish population that settled in Chefchaouen because they are attributed to being a major reason for the famous blue color of the city. The Jewish relationship to the color blue is nuanced and personal but the general idea is that blue symbolizes the divine
Here at Relativity we #bringtheworldhome and our adventurous eye this week has lead us deep into researching Mexico. Whether it's the incredible capital, Distrito Federal aka Mexico City D.F., or its elaborate and complex national history, or the masterful and ancient crafts that have become symbols of Mexican culture around the world -- we are absolutely swooning. But right now lets talk about four of the major Mexican textiles, each of which are known for their impeccable craftmanship, delicious patterns, and fascinating social implications. Rebozo A rebozo is a woven textile that functions somewhere between a shawl and a scarf. It takes the shape of a long rectangle, with complex knotted fringe work on the ends. Rebozos vary in their use and style -- some are used for work and labor and are woven out of durable materials that allow for heavy lifting, especially in the context of motherhood where the rebozo is used
Transforming Reality [caption id="attachment_6381" align="aligncenter" width="2700"] Escher's watercolor animal tessellations[/caption] M.C. Escher is one of the best known artist/mathematicians of all time. He is known for his intricate pencil drawings that evoke optical illusions of space. I was lucky enough to see many of his works in a retrospective exhibition some time in the 90's, though at the time I was bored to tears to have been brought to the show with my dad, the math teacher. Having had a father whose idea of a fun time was to create Tesselations and color them in actually has come in handy for me as a textile designer. Once I graduated from SAIC, I began teaching a course called Contemporary Textile Print Production in the Fibers Department at SAIC. One of the most basic and easy to learn techniques for making things repeat is to create tessellations, or "puzzle pieces" that repeat infinitely in all
The Permanence of Pattern Here's a question I've been asking myself since graduate school: How do I make a living doing something with my talent that asks the right questions, starts a dialogue, engages an audience and does something good? The short answer hit me while installing our Arabian Nights wallpaper at the Lake Forest Showhouse last summer. You may not have heard the entire story about the second collection, but each of the patterns is inspired by one of the countries on the No Travel Ban List that Donald Trump put into effect last year. The impetus for me designing wallpaper around political events was when last spring I was asked to design a space at the Lake Forest Showhouse. The pattern I created for the upstairs hallway and stair was Arabian Nights. "Arabian Nights," or One Thousand and One Nights, is one of the oldest stories in history and
Trent Call is a visual artist based in Salt Lake City, Utah who has been practicing many crafts for over 20 years. His mediums are not limited to oil painting, mural and graffiti art, comics and animations. Trent Call and I were a part of a very selective group of friends in high school. We were a small caste of non-Mormon kids in a sea of homogeneity. My sister and I both excelled at art and found our home in Pat Eddington’s art classroom. Trent, a junior when we were freshmen, was the shining star of our high school’s art program. He grew up in a stylish family; his parents were both furniture designers and their home was decorated with modern and simple furniture which defied the normal decor of the late 90’s in Salt Lake City. From the moment he left high school he has been on a pretty quick trajectory
Sneak a peek into our founder Erin’s Chicago Coach House You’ll find it’s full of a vintage mashup of textures, patterns, and globally sourced furniture and rugs. First impressions matter - Check out this subtle entryway! Disclaimer: We Hate Pink Constantly annoyed at the wet bandaid gender normative way that pink is thrown around, the femmes that make up Relativity are all in consensus -- pink is wack. But our Marrakesh colorway takes us somewhere new The clay coated paper with the subtle metallic mauve is a crowd pleaser, even for the discerning eye. Marrakesh is the new blush, with its earthier undertones this pink keeps us grounded thinking about the depth of our global inspiration. [caption id="attachment_6266" align="aligncenter" width="660"] A welcoming entryway that shows off your personality to guests the moment they walk in your door[/caption] A Lasting Impact: Wallpaper your Entryway An entryway is the first impression
Savannah Jubic is a weaver and installation artist based in Chicago. After receiving her Bachelor of Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Jubic is a creative programming assistant at Johalla Projects in Chicago and teaches weaving to the elderly. Jubic volunteers with a group called Committed Knitters teaching knitting and crochet at Cook County Jail on the weekends. Savannah and I were both in school at the same time, while I was recieving my Master's degree she was an undergraduate student. I knew her to be from the other tribe; that is, I was in the print tribe of the Fiber Department and she was a weaver. Both very different skill sets, students tend to move towards one camp rather than dive into both crafts. I knew she was a devoted artist because weaving takes so much patience and commitment and I would see her in the studio all the time. It was only later, once we were both out of school that I was looking to enlist the help of an accomplished weaver to make a custom border for my stair runner at the Lake Forest Showhouse. Savannah was recommended to me by several colleagues and I was happy to meet her again and hire her to make the staircase shine. Last May, Relativity Textiles was invited to be at part of the Lake Forest Showhouse, one of the remaining showcases for interior designers in the suburbs of Chicago. It was an incredible experience full of great connections and networking. Our space turned out beautifully with many thanks to my collaborator Claire Staszak from Centered by Design. It has always been important to me to support the robust community of local artists in makers in what we do at RT, and the Lake Forest Showhouse was no exception. Our Arabian Nights wallpaper in Parchment was designed specifically for this showcase. Featured in our space was also a rare antique Iranian runner sourced online, Unimode Woodworking created the fabulous mirrored doors, It’s Oksana created the draperies, Stark Carpet generously donated the sisal carpet for the staircase.
We asked Savannah to give us a little bit of an in-depth interview about her process and inspiration. Read on for her answers.
The New BlushSome of you may know that the names of the colorways of the second collection mainly are drawn from cities in Morocco. As it is my second home, and exists on the bucket list of many people, Morocco serves as an endless inspiration stream for me. Colors especially stick out in my mind. Though none of these colors hit the Pantone Color of the Year chord, they're verging on trendy but in an accidental way. Take this warm clay color for example. It's not flesh or blush, it's not terracotta or paprika, but it's own unique hue that belongs only in this place. Marrakesh. It's always been the color of the year here. I first went to Morocco in 2002 and fell in love with this vibrant city. It's been a place of mystery and magic for me ever since. This bustling tourist hub has an interesting history but is also like a magnet, pulling me near, all the time. I've been back several times for textiles buying trips and with groups of Americans learning about Moroccan culture. I like to explain it as the city that never sleeps. We typically start with an exercise called the "Five Senses of Jama'a Al Fna", which means that you'll see, smell, taste, hear and (be) touch(ed) in the crowded plaza all within minutes of arriving!
It's an experience unlike any other, and a real cultural wake up call.Beyond this sensory overload and beyond the main gates of the old city, or Medina, you'll find seductive colors in the architecture and wares for sale. You'll find friendly people and many wonderful tastes. I welcome you to find out more as you read on.
By Raffa ReutherWhat makes a pattern iconic? What makes it timeless and have popularity which spans geographic locations around the world? Starting this week we begin a series about iconic patterns. We chose plaid as a timeless favorite to do a little under the surface research about. During a photo shoot in the master bath of one of our most beloved clients of 2017, our curiosity emerged about why plaid is so iconic. How has plaid been in vogue for over a hundred years? How does it stay relevant? Plaid is forever morphing through the decades, always reinventing itself in fashion and home decor, often looking back to bygone eras with bittersweet feelings. [caption id="attachment_6178" align="aligncenter" width="522"] SEARS Catalog image from the 1960's of plaid fashions.[/caption]
Jae Jarrell is a badass black woman artist and activist best known for her textile and fashion work from the 60s and 70s. She was a founding member of AFRICOBRA which stands for the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists. She was a small business owner and started her own shop called “Jae of Hyde Park” where she sold her fashion designs. She is a perfect example of how to blend business, art, and activism. Jae was reinventing her work! In Urban Wall Suit, she was inspired by the walls in her Chicago community where people would tag questions and have conversations via graffiti. She decided to interpret that and see if she could create a similar vibe with her fabric. She describes it as “It was a voice of the community and a voice to the community.” The importance of people to Jae is
Custom Wallpaper Makes a Huge Impact all photos copyright Dustin Halleck This Chicago coach house rents for $300/night all summer on a timeshare website. It's owner, a globally inspired, former retail shop owner has transformed every room into a funky creation full of color and texture. Her fabric collection from all over the world was the inspiration for this custom wallpaper. We wanted to make a strong impact in a small space by using 5 different patterns, all in a blue colorway. We had to create repeating patterns for each of these steps, since the fabrics were just snippets of pattern, not print ready files. Once the images were set up for print, we used a type of vinyl for the application. Common uses for this material are prints that adhere to the sidewalk for advertising, or the floor of the bus or train. It's meant to walk on, and we wanted something
One of the countries affected by the recent No Travel Ban is Libya. Of the African countries, Libya is the fourth largest, laying along the Mediterranean Sea to the North, and neighboring with Egypt to the east. Most western people have never been to Libya or ever dreamed to, since the Middle East has been a relatively volatile place since 2011 when the Arab Spring caused every day people to rally against political regimes who were failing to rule their countries peacefully and democratically. Muammar Gaddafi ruled Libya from 1973 until his demise in 2011, that we all watched in gruesome detail on television. As much as the unrest and upheaval we've witnessed in recent years may turn us off to Libya as a valuable cultural leader, we should not dismiss the value of its heritage as a place and it's people as contributors to a world full of beauty. The city
Karen Azarnia is a Chicago-based painter, curator and culture maker. She has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and ran the Riverside Art Center's Freeark Gallery for several years. Her accolades include being the recipient of the Illinois Individual Artist Grant and the CAAP Grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs + IL Arts Council. She is in my mind a total badass, though her demeanor and poise is that of a truly graceful creature. Karen is a supporter of the arts in many ways and a champion for other female artists through her work as a curator, juror and educator. She is the mom of one majorly cute little boy and lives in a cute bungalow in Forest Park, IL. Karen and I were in a show together about 3 years ago called Graft, at Comfort Station in Logan Square. We had both recently had
Gold is the New Black. One of the defining color palettes of my first collection was black and gold. Our original packaging was made in black matte Neenah paper with a gold foil letterpressed logo. And the first wallpaper I ever made was Kilim Black. It makes sense then that people relate to me as a black and gold girl. Though, often I consider the palette too glam, I do always wear black and I love gold and brass colored accents in jewelry and in a home. [caption id="attachment_5349" align="aligncenter" width="3600"] Images courtesy of Carolina M. Rodriguez, Bryson Gill studios and Aimee Mazzenga.[/caption] As some of you know I have a small crush on a very famous designer. I met Nate Berkus in Los Angeles in May of 2016 and it felt like my long standing goal had been achieved. But, I know for a fact that he doesn't remember who I am
I have always been attracted to old blueprint images from architectural renderings. Mainly because my grandfather was an architect but also because when I was in graduate school at SAIC I once found a dumpster full of old blueprints that an architecture firm was throwing away. I took them home and made collages out of them. I loved the renderings and how much time it must have taken to draw each straight, perfect line and the planning that goes into a building well before the first brick is laid. I don't work well with that level of exactitude, so I wasn't cut out for architecture school. PARCHMENT: CHICAGO This colorway was inspired by the Windy City. Gray and Stone colored skyscrapers reach up to the sky. Deep blue lake reaches the sand. Neutral and muted and subtle and beautiful. It's calm and cool almost to the point you feel cold. It has
Designing with Grasscloth by Jackie Stelzer, Intern Summer 2016 Photo by Michael Robert Construction - Browse traditional staircase ideas Today, in our hyper-cyber “one click away” market, shopping for our homes has changed, as well as designing them. We can “pin” and buy décor online, from mirrors to pillows, to ordering light fixtures and furniture, we are fortunate to live in an era where we can shop from our computers at home or as we sip a latte at our local café. But what about shopping for fabrics and wallpaper? It’s simply not the same. The reason; touch. This is especially important in the revival of wallpaper and wallcoverings in the world of interiors. For those who have fallen for the treasured texturized trend of designing with grasscloth as I have, this tactile experience is actually a treat. Sure, it means leaving your computer, spending a little more money, and physically engaging with different
Hi It's Kelsey, intern at Relativity Textiles. Here at RT we are committed to the process. Our wallpaper is designed for easy printing, easy install and easy maintenance-- We think about our Printers, Wallpaper Hangers and You every time we design a pattern! Though our wallpaper is made to be easily installed and can be done by just about anyone, but we do recommend you hire a professional. If you are in the Chicago area we recommend: Shawn Lawler If you are elsewhere we recommend: Wallcovering Installers Associations But if you want to learn from experience, below are a few tricks I gathered last week while installing a wallpaper for Claire from Centered by Design. Here's what I learned about how to hang a perfect paper that I didn't know before. DO's & DON'T's 1) Use Wallpaper specific primer, sometimes called Prep Coat. 2) If the background of the wallpaper is colored, a tinted primer can help disguise inevitable gaps. 3) Never wear red nail