Talking to...Heather Bush and Mary Holt for Carnegie Fabrics
Edited by Karen D. Singh -- Interior Design, 8/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
In an unusual moment of agreement, Heather Bush and Mary Holt conclude that their differences, ironically, are the reason for their success. The two, both now executive vice presidents for "creative" at Carnegie Fabrics, have been working together ever since meeting at New Jersey's Montclair State University in 1982—and have been designing specifically for Carnegie Fabrics for the last decade.
Eco-friendly Surface IQ is just one example of the pair's commitment to forward thinking. This collection of vinyl-replacement wall covering consists of seven designs in 50 colorways, and all meet type II vinyl specifications, without the chlorine and heavy metals. The designers came up with their latest textile collection, Vibe, by looking back to the 1960's. Karma is a celestial-patterned poly-cotton, Ohm a poly-cotton inspired by crop circles, Chi a starburst pattern in Eco-Intelligent polyester, and Bliss a plush rayon-cotton chenille.
How did you two meet?
HB: We were both majoring in fine arts and concentrating on fibers and fabrics. When I met Mary, she was making felt.
How do you develop a collection?
MH: Our method is freestyle—we bounce ideas around. Sometimes she comes up with one, and then I develop it with the design team, make it happen. Other times, like for Vibe, I'm the concept person, and then Heather steps in and lends a fresh perspective.
HB: We're really honest with each other. I ask Mary what she thinks of a color line, and she gives me her input. Since we do such a great number of products, there's no way that one of us could own a textile entirely.
What are you most excited about now?
MH: Karma is one of my favorite designs, because it's such a departure for Carnegie. The scale and colors are really hot. Also Bliss, because it's rich and unexpected. It's a very simple chenille. It doesn't have a pattern, but it's a fabric you want to touch.
How do you envision Vibe being used?
HB: I'd like to see the large-scale patterns used on small-scale pieces, like on task seating in a sea of workstations. You'd glimpse just a piece of it and still catch its spirit.
How did you conceive of the color palette?
MH: I thought about trends in fashion and hospitality. Once we came up with the colors, we developed the fibers and constructions.
What was the inspiration behind Vibe?
MH: Spirituality, comfort, and anchor points. These fabrics are new, but they're also grounded in visuals from the past.
HB: It's less about personal expression and more a reflection on what's happening around us. In this fast-paced world, people are looking back for comfort.
Can Surface IQ really replace vinyl?
MH: We're at a point where going green isn't an option—it's a necessity.
Would you ever want to start an independent studio?
MH: We toss around business plans—but nothing serious yet. At the moment, we think it would be great to do something creative for children. We're constantly rethinking the possibilities.