Monday, January 8, 2018

Diligence & Elegance: My trip to the Textile Museum

A few weeks ago I visited the Textile Museum in Toronto to see an exhibition on Japanese textiles. The exhibition featured mostly kimonos demonstrating different embellishing, dyeing and weaving techniques.

As we entered the exhibition we were greeted by several breathtakingly luxurious kimonos with lavish designs, hand painted flowers, some accents embroidered with gold. These were formal kimonos, used for special occasions like weddings. The brightly coloured fabrics were decorated with chrysanthemums, pine branches, citrus flowers, cranes, paulownia and plum blossoms.

In a different room there were several examples of indigo bed spreads and fishermen's kimonos. Indigo dyeing has a long history in Japan. Before the introduction of Japanese indigo they rubbed the leaves of a perennial plant known as Mercurialis leiocarpa on the fabric to achieve the blue colour. The more known process of fermenting the indigo plants made the dying process easier and more accessible. Indigo dying makes the fabric stronger, therefore, the beautifully colored fabrics were used for work wear, and became associated with hard labour.

The exhibition is on till January 21st, so if you haven't seen it, it's well worth the trip!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fearless Interior Designer Feature

I love colour and pattern, and wanted to feature interior designers on my blog who fearlessly use both with style and passion. My first feature is Ann Lowengart, an interior designer from California, who started designing interiors in 2000. After working in the corporate world, she set out on a creative journey by first designing wedding gowns, and later interiors. She's a master of mixing bold colours and graphic patterns, creating spaces that relax and intrigue at the same time. All images are from Ann

This Bohemian girls' room with a fun analogous colour scheme was part of the 2016 San Francisco Decorator Showcase.
Living room with complementary colours, playful patterns and bold artwork

Bold and fresh family home.

This cool gray family room is far from boring! The straight lines of the geometric rug and the upholstery fabric are offset by the softness of the Trove wallpaper on the feature wall and the organic chandelier.

A beautiful powder room using Galbraith and Paul wallpaper

Bold accent colours and colourful patterns against the white of the kitchen

Chic girls' room with hot pink accents

I love the mix of textures and patterns in this family room. 

A touch of sunshine with a splash of colour in this entryway

Mixing of vibrant colours and lacquered surfaces

Friday, March 24, 2017

Textile Designer: William Morris born 183 years ago

William Morris, textile designer, poet, social activist and one of the main figures of the Arts and Crafts Movement was born on March 24, 1834, 183 years ago.

When I first saw the designs of William Morris, I was immediately in love with his gracefully undulating florals, and stylized design elements inspired by nature.  His design aesthetics influenced my work greatly, and using plants and critters in my wallpaper and fabric design is still my favourite subject matter. 

Photograph of William Morris by Frederick Hollyer, 1884, platinum print. Museum no. 7715-1938, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Photograph of William Morris by Frederick Hollyer, 1884, platinum print. Museum no. 7715-1938, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Windrush  pencil and watercolour sketch for textile design, 1881-83
William Morris Fruit or Pomegranate, 1864
William Morris sketch for Trellis, 1864
William Morris Honeysuckle, 1876

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Custom Fabric

I completed a fabric design titled Japanese Garden for Spoonflower's contest last spring and won the contest! Since then, various colour ways of this fabric have been used for different projects. One of the projects was to recolour the fabric to match a client's room. I was working with Frances Pusch Fine Sewing for Interiors, a lovely lady from Maine (also a fan of dogs!!!) on this project. We had to achieve a "Chinese Red" to match her client's walls in a beautiful old house. The fabric is going to be used for drapes and upholstery.

Here are some of the images of the work in progress. I'm excited to see more as the project progresses! 

Japanese Garden in "Chinese Red" for Frances Push Fine Sewing for Interiors. Photo by Frances Pusch.

First attempt a the Red colour version for the Japanese Garden available at Spoonflower.

The final colour adjustment for Frances' project. We had to scale the print down from 14" to 13.25". This version is also available at Spoonflower.

The gray version of the Japanese Garden. This is on Linen Cotton for upholstery. 

The original images from Spoonflower. Image by Spoonflower.

My chair for the Chair Affair at the end of October 2016. I used the gray version of the fabric and painted the back of the chair.

Me and my chair at the Chair Affair 2016 Gala at Casalife. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Custom rug project finished!

I've had a couple of posts about the journey we had to get these two custom rugs to our clients. They were finished in the fall, damaged by shipping, and at the end REDONE and shipped by my manufacturer AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE! Here are the finished rugs in their room settings in the homes of two very happy clients! 
Photographs by Tobi Brockway Interiors. 

This hand-knotted rug was created to match the Robert Allen fabric on the couch. Interior design and photo by Tobi Brockway Interiors.

This Rhapsody rug is a large 8' x 9' tufted in it's room setting. It was inspired by Hungarian folk art. Photo by Tobi Brockway Interiors

This Rhapsody rug is a large 8' x 9' tufted in it's room setting. It was inspired by Hungarian folk art. Interior design and photo by Tobi Brockway Interiors.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Customer Service at its BEST

I mentioned in an earlier post, that two beautiful (and expensive) rugs got damaged during shipping from India. They were in DHL's care, insured, but at the end DHL didn't take any responsibility for the holes in the rugs, even though they handled them door to door. Needless to say, I was very very dismayed. These were custom rugs for clients who waited for 4 months to get them. 

There were talks of repairing them, but at the end my manufacturer decided to REMAKE both rugs FREE OF CHARGE. You have to know that about 4-5 weavers work on a rug, especially a hand-knotted piece to achieve the beautiful weave that we admire, and it takes them MONTHS to complete the task. The COST of materials is HIGH, as they use New Zealand wool. The manufacturer is now shipping the rugs to me at his OWN EXPENSE which will cost about 1000 CAD. I'm so touched, I'd never been treated this well by any manufacturer. In the past, when I had problems, I was left to pick up the tab. I'm so grateful! I will still have to hire someone with a van to get the shipment from the airport, and I still have to give a discount to my client because of their inconvenience, but at least I didn't have to do it all alone. THANK YOU for the AMAZING CUSTOMER SERVICE!

Rhapsody Blue Rug 8x9

Monday, October 3, 2016

How DHL ruined my 2 rugs worth thousands

I had two beautiful custom rugs made for an interior designer client. After the long, almost 4 month wait, the rugs finally arrived! Excited to see them, I unpacked them and immediately my heart sank. 

Rhapsody rug in blue, 8x9 custom made for Tobi Brockway Interiors
Maze rug, 6x8 custom made for Tobi Brockway Interiors using Rober Allen's Merry Maze in Calypso fabric as the design
There were HOLES in both rugs, even a tear in one of them. I called my manufacturer immediately and as you can imagine he was not happy. These rugs take months to make and about 4-5 people work on one rug creating a masterpiece. Since the rugs were INSURED with DHL who picked them up and delivered them, he thought he had a good case. 

I spent days just taking pictures and sending them to both India and to the DHL office here in Canada. The images showed 7 holes in each rug and a larger the tear in one of the rugs. I had to lay out the packaging and matched up the holes on the rugs with the holes on the packaging. A pleasant lady called me and reassured me that she will be very helpful. She tried to explain to me that in India manufacturers might put NAILS in the rugs when they make them. I straightened her out that my manufacturer has international clients who they create high quality artistic rugs for. Why on Earth would they nail the rugs to make holes in them?? You would have to be a moron to do that. Then she blamed the manufacturer for not packaging the rugs correctly. The rugs were packaged with care, and the same way I always receive rugs from overseas with "USE NO HOOKS" tape all over the packages. 

At the end DHL determined that they were not liable for the damage. Now these rugs have to be shipped back to India for repair and then shipped back. This lady from DHL was so sweet, she told me that as soon as they're ready to be picked up, she'll make sure that DHL picks them up. After all, my manufacturer is a large company with a large account at DHL and they can just ship the rugs back and forth because they don't know how else to spend their money.  Sure lady, if you think you can get 3x the shipping out of my manufacturer, you're wrong! I think you just lost a large account. Congratulations! Great customer service serving ONLY yourself!

Immediately, I saw the damage on the tufted floral rug. The cotton backing really shows it. 

I'm grateful for my manufacturer's professional attitude for arranging the pickup, repairing these gorgeous rugs and shipping them back. Their great customer service is an amazing example of how to treat and keep your customers. DHL? Well, that's a different story.