• Chicago Coach House Goes Global

    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 that would withstand the test of time, since it may get scuffed quite a bit from long-term use. Our manufacturers helped us select this material for its durability.

    We really love seeing these patterns make an impact in the space leading up to the guest bedrooms. It’s such a fun and welcoming environment th Bring the World Home.

    Custom wallpaper is not something we typically promote on our website, but it’s a big part of what we are capable of at Relativity Textiles. If you’ve always imagined a wallpaper but don’t know where to start, contact Erin at [email protected]




  • Destination: Libya

    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 of Ghadames is a sight to behold. Inside it’s earthen buildings, the decorations around windows and doorways have been painted with a red lattice pattern on white washed walls. Truly a textile lover’s dream come true, these rooms inspired by the maker’s imagination and traditional motifs are incredible.

    {See the Pinterest Board}

    The Romans found value in Libya during the 5th century. The Italians colonized Libya in the early 1900’s and left behind some Italian linguistic traits and cuisine (in the west of Libya, pasta is a common dish to accompany meat). But, moreover, in a place where rainfall can happen less than once in a decade, Libyans learned to farm in patterns and thrive in a desert climate. The largest irrigation system in the world, called the “Great Man-Made River” consists of over 1,300 wells and 1,750 miles of aqueducts which supplies fresh water to most of the country! My obsession with images of pivot irrigation systems begins:


    From a textile design perspective, these manmade patterns are fascinating. Normally, nature has a wild way with the land, growing in patterns which are organic and free (called a “field”). But farming generally goes in opposition to naturally occurring patterns; having organized rows, or in this case being dictated by the way the water covers the ground (called a “stack”). I wanted to create a stack pattern using these hexagon shapes, and remembered the drawings of M.C. Escher in my sketchbook.


    A mathematician and also an artist, Escher was famous for his optical illusions. His hyperrealistic drawings and his agility with regards to creating tessellations. WHY AM I SUCH A NERD? Because my dad is a math teacher. I used to do tessellations for FUN as a child. This lead me to a career in textile design, though I didn’t know it until graduate school while I was TA’ing a print class and suddenly yelled “A tessellation!” when the professor was explaining designs that are complex and “puzzle piece” together.


    To get back to my point, Escher had never been to the Middle East, as far as I know. But, he did study Moorish architecture and Islamic tile patterns. Much of his work reflects a commitment to and understanding of geometry, which originated in the Middle East. With my BA in Middle Eastern Studies and Art you can now see where much of my love for pattern is closely tied to cultural traditions from the eastern regions of the world. It’s also why my heart is heavy when hearing that Muslims are not welcome in my country— That regions of the world are banned at all alarms me. I wonder how to combat the omission of the value and worth of these peoples as citizens of the greatest melting pot on Earth…… Can an artwork summon compassion and/or change? Can this design be a place holder? Once we use a wallpaper, inspired by Libya, and welcome it into our powder rooms and kitchens– could it symbolically be a white flag of surrender to the rest of the world?

    Perhaps it’s an artist’s dream that her work can be a micro-revolution. That the personal is the most political decision we make on a daily basis. But, if I were to sneak these ‘ideas’ into a beautifully designed space, and the homeowner could see it’s beauty then in turn she would be saying “I embrace the culture of a foreign place. I welcome it into my home.” If that is possible, then my work is done.


    This morning I was faced with one of life’s most important decisions…

    Whether to click on a Facebook daily quiz.

    What I love about social media is the ability to feel connected to people who you’ve lost connection with, whether physically, geographically or emotionally. It makes me feel like I’m not so alone. It makes me feel like I have support. And it’s a way to vent to the universe the things that I need answers to. Sometimes my virtual community comes through. As in the case of Kickstarter, they REALLY CAME THROUGH! So, I don’t want to discredit the power of this platform. But, I do get a little weary of getting on Facebook, because it can be a time suck and often, while reading news articles or opinions of my peers I can get really depressed.

    But, this morning, Sunday, while I told myself to write a blog post about something meaningful; while I am trying to stick to some social media calendar that I set up for myself; while I’m trying to prove that I really do know how to write, even though I somewhere along the line told myself ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m not good at it’, I realized that this could be the content I am searching for. This. Stupid, pointless, Facebook quiz.

     Like a fortune cookie, this little exercise in self-examination gives a tidbit about my life without knowing me at all. As if five or six questions can get to the bottom of who I am and what my personality type is! But, we read our fortune cookie, we listen to the psychic, we take a daily quiz to feel surety about the future. To be validated. Or to have reassurance that we really are who we thought we were (or be surprised that we are NOT who we thought we were!)



    Here’s who I am:
    “You’re the explorer! According to Jung we can find this archetype in many myths and fairy tales. You’re a restless nomad, always full of wanderlust. You see life as one big adventure and you’re always planning your next move. This archetype thirsts for new experiences and new people. You’re independent, adaptable, ambitious and true to yourself. Your sense of adventure is your greatest strength, but you may risk wondering aimlessly and you may find it difficult to choose a direction. Channel your adventurous spirit into something productive!”
    And so, if I must summarize the way this Jungian survey completes me, I must say that I like being labeled the explorer. Though, I don’t consider myself a leader or expert or the first to have done anything. People have been designing wallpaper since the 16th century. Women have been running businesses to support their families since the dawn of commerce. I’m not Amelia Earhart or Marie Curie- I wish I was! That said, I do love the idea that my wandering spirit needs channeling and though “productivity” isn’t my goal, I do love meeting new people and experiencing new things. That is a part of this brand. It’s a part of what I love about getting to meet interior designers, showroom reps and other textile tribe members. I love when we support each other and share information. I love when another creative person promotes me (I joke that they are “spreading the wallpaper gospel!”) I love knowing more about the industry, since I’m the new girl at the party. But most of all I love sharing what I know with you. Taking you to a place you may never see firsthand.

    photo credit, Carolina Mariana Rodriguez c. 2017

    When I have more energy to complete the blog post I started last week about Sudan, I will share it with you. The happy and the sad. (okay, a society who has suffered as much as Sudan has a lot more sad than happy). The beautiful and the ugly. The power of an image. The strength of a people to persist. I hope you’ll come back and read it, once I finally close my eyes and hit “PUBLISH”.