“Design is thinking before you act…” – Prof Protzen, UC Berkeley – Reed Family Linen

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“Design is thinking before you act…” – Prof Protzen, UC Berkeley

People often ask me where I get my design inspiration from for our linen collections, but it is a question which I can never easily answer. Are the design ideas inside my head from birth waiting to come out, or are they patterns which have been stored away from years of exposure to images and experiences during my life?

Several years ago I was in New York and picked up a brand brochure at one of the Italian prestige shops on Madison Ave. A full page spread photograph caught my immediate attention and took my breath away. The image was taken in a desert setting with a group wearing black and ivory fashion. The whole effect contrasted shades of ivory sand against very small amounts of ebony.

Amongst the clothes, the men were wearing hounds tooth trousers and jackets, and the women tuille skirts in ivory chiffon. For me, it was a mesmerizing scene of Art Deco colour and texture.

A year later after picking up my coveted catalogue, I visited the ladies room in a restaurant near Leicester Square and was confronted with a full wall image of an Audrey Hepburn style woman dressed in black & white standing next to a large Dalmation dog – the image had the same effect on me as the double page spread in the fashion catalogue, but this time it was black and white instead of ivory.

Maybe design is a series of coincidental encounters, but certainly these two events led me to think about creating bed linen designs in textured chic combinations of white and ivory accented with black embroidery or our Ebony sateen fabric.

Maybe design is a series of coincidental encounters, but certainly these two events led me to think about creating bed linen designs in textured chic combinations of white and ivory accented with black embroidery or our Ebony sateen fabric.

It was two years later that I put my thoughts into action and drew up the outlines and diagrams for our Milford and Walton designs and put them into work in our factory hemming room. Even as single pieces, the designs worked as stand alone products; the combination of classic cord stitching, hemstitching and fine tailored bias edging ensured that these new patterns perfectly complimented our existing traditional patterns in Ivory, White and Ebony – just like the fashion worn by the models in my original desert landscape.

I was so excited to complete our next quarterly photoshoot to see the designs come to life when bed and table linen products from our new Milford and Walton designs were mixed in with existing long running patterns and the full effect was created.

One design was named after the discrete yet exclusive shopping street which runs between Harrods and Brompton Cross in London’s West End. Walton is a clean tuxedo style pattern reminiscent of the smart and eclectic boutiques along this famous street.

So when people ask me “where does my inspiration come from” I have to say from personal experiences and feelings at a moment in time.

The other design, Milford, was named after a small village in Surrey typical of the English countryside and made famous by reference in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and used for filming Doctor Who (the Silurians) in the 1960’s.

So when people ask me “where does my inspiration come from” I have to say from personal experiences and feelings at a moment in time – all of which are random events and come when you are least expecting them. The trick to being a half decent designer is to notice when you are seeing or experiencing something new and exciting, and then (most importantly) being able to remember and recall it years later when you are scratching your head for inspiration. A mobile phone with a camera and a notebook are useful ways to assist with this process.

In the world of design every day is exciting, and you never know when and which of your senses are going to be challenged with a new experience which could lead to the next best thing in design!

Karen Reed – March 2022

 

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