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Design

Meet the Brooklyn Designer Making Waves—and Handprinted Textiles

November 3, 2017
With painterly pops of color and perfectly placed geometric shapes, the Memphis-born designer brings the essence of places like Florence, Oaxaca, Martha’s Vineyard into the home. Some of her globally inspired, Brooklyn-designed textiles are block printed by hand in New Bedford, Mass. And we’ve helped her interpret her artistic, earthy and relaxed sensibility into a collection of even more fabrics—and wallpapers.

SWEET BEGINNINGS

Before she began distilling entire cultures into minimalist fabric landscapes, the artist and textile designer Caroline Z. Hurley was a full-time preschool teacher in New York. Then she took a trip to Indonesia that changed everything.
I was block printing in my studio and started incorporating these pieces into my paintings. I began making a few block-printed pieces for my home and sharing them with friends and family. Later, a shop reached out to me.
The shop JF & Son, a white-washed Manhattan boutique where fine art met home goods, is no longer; but it was just what she needed to launch her line and hone her point of view.
INTERNATIONAL INSPIRATION
Today she lives in New York City’s West Village; works in Brooklyn, where she has an eponymous shop and studio; and channels the playfulness and simplicity from her preschool classroom into an economy of colors.
A regular meditation practice also inspires her designs (she says she focuses on “just the essentials—breath or simplicity of shapes”) and process—which involves “sitting and feeling the place.” And her favorite place to soak in is Mexico.
I feel the most inspired there,” she says.“I love the culture and the colors and the ocean. Every new place I visit feels like my favorite place, but I always go back to Mexico.
Caroline has a painting studio in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
HOMETOWN HOT SPOTS
In and around the West Village, she frequents…
… the secret garden at St Luke’s Church TO RELAX
… the Hudson River Park TO STROLL
… the Elk FOR COFFEE
… home FOR EVERYTHING ELSE
I truly believe that where your home is, where you center yourself, is the most important thing in the world. It’s that grounding that enables true adventure.
Her eponymous Brooklyn shop offers beautiful and unique objects for creating a happy home.
THE PERFECT TRAVEL ACCESSORY
Caroline doesn’t leave home without one of her shop’s popular throws, which is also her favorite gift to give. While traveling, it keeps her warm on the plane—and doubles as a scarf.
She Also Packs:
A sketchbook
A good book
A camera
Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment—for lip gloss
The Joshua Tree pattern (above), available now at Schumacher, is block printed by hand.
HOW THE COLLECTION’S MADE
I realized that I couldn’t do it alone and wanted to find the right fit for production. Because my fabrics are so handmade, seeing the hand in the work was a vital part of the product I was making. The cottage industry, made by people, not machines, aligned with what I was doing in my studio. Through extensive research, I found a group of Guatemalan artisans living in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Caroline taught them how to block print and hopes to incorporate their weaving and embroidery skills into future collections.
New Bedford has a really rich textile history: At its height, it was home to a thriving textile industry with over 70 working mills. The Great Depression and overseas production hit New Bedford hard and many of its buildings now stand vacant. My dream is to revive U.S. production in this historic city.
The Joshua Tree pattern (above), available now at Schumacher, is block printed by hand.
WHY GREAT DESIGN MATTERS
Above all, Caroline is motivated by great design’s ability to spark an adventurous life.
“I design our products to be used, not to be treated delicately. Like a good pair of jeans, they should get better with age. I believe in adventure and living in the moment, and I hope our products reflect that.”

HER COMPREHENSIVE NEW COLLECTION IS AVAILABLE NOW AT FSCHUMACHER.COM >

 

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