It's wonderful when you get to connect with a designer whose work you admire. For years I have loved the work of textile designer D. Bryant Archie. Her beautifully handwoven pillows and blankets always stood out to me as home decor that is a wonderful celebration of culture and comfort - a perfect combination. I am so excited to present our Style Talk interview with Bryant as AphroChic's first for 2013. We discuss the inspiration for her textile line, how she integrates culture into her design process, and what's next for D. Bryant Archie Textiles in 2013.
What led you to textile design?
I’ve always loved to paint, draw, write – but didn’t find my passion for textiles until my second job after college. Back in high school I was teased for the “weird” vintage clothes I used to wear. Later I realized it was the beautifully crafted fabrics that probably attracted me first. Once I found textile design, I was hooked.
How did the vision for D. Bryant Archie Textiles begin?
My first job working with textiles was with Elizabeth Eakins. There, I was involved in almost every aspect of textile development and it sparked something in me. Soon it became clear I wanted to start my own company, but it took time to figure out how to scale it. A few years later on my honeymoon in Morocco, inspired by the breathtaking textiles there, I literally dreamt of starting with a luxurious blanket collection. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. I started designing the first collection of seven blankets.
You can see a lot of global-inspiration in your textiles. How do you weave culture into your designs?
I’m continually interested in indigenous cultures. My design sensibilities are an extension of that. And no matter where I am, I notice colors, textures and often see patterns that inform my work in general or directly influence my next collection.
What cultures inspire your work?
Moroccan and Native American themes continue to re-surface. They’ve inspired my first collection until now. In Morocco, the vibrant, saturated colors as well as the weathered and patina textures continue to excite me. Being part Cherokee, I’m continually interested in American Indian culture and artifacts. The first time I saw a Navajo Chief Blanket I fell in love. It never gets old.
What has the experience been like working with artisans in Peru?
I learned product development and collaborated with Indian artisans while working for Elizabeth Eakins. It was an incredibly positive experience and set the bar really high. I started my company with the goal of making blankets that would be statement pieces for the home, truly works of art. I searched for textile artisans with a hand weaving heritage. Once I connected with Peruvian weavers with such a long history of hand weaving alpaca, a fiber native to the country, it just made sense to begin working there.
What’s next for D. Bryant Archie Textiles?
For spring, we’ll have new blanket and pillow collections that reflect an expanding network of partnerships with global artisan communities and the indigenous techniques they employ, in particular – beautiful hand embroidery. In addition to the retail stores that carry our bedding, pillows, bath and table linens around the country, our alpaca blankets and pillows are now available in a trade-only location for the first time – Michael Smith’s Jasper Showroom. I’ve admired his work for so long, way before starting my own company. Having my work represented by his showroom is such an honor.