The role of the self-taught artist has long taken a backseat to its fine arts counterpart. But a resurgence of interest in American folk art is elevating traditional crafts in a way that are at once modern and rooted in a deeply personal history.
After graduating with a BFA in fashion from Parsons School of Design, Emily Ridings returned to her native Kentucky to pursue the art of basket making—but with a distinctly sartorial twist: In addition to vases, bowls, and other vessels, she creates woven jewelry, handbags, and even dramatic skirts from traditional weaving materials like cane and bamboo.
Talk about a history lesson: Situated on the site of the nation’s oldest inn (c. 1679), Canoe Place Inn & Suites in Hampton Bays, New York, has played host to everyone from Revolutionary War soldiers to Prohibition-era bootleggers to Hollywood stars. Now, it’s been reborn again as the hottest new hotel out East, with 13 rooms, seven suites, and five cottages in coastal-cool Americana style—think Shaker-inspired furnishings and ticking stripes—by Brooklyn design studio Workstead.
The most inspiring young talents are reclaiming elements of American Country style in unexpected new ways, incorporating motifs like handpainted stencils, heirloom quilts, and cottage-ready skirts into interiors that feel thoroughly modern but beautifully familiar at the same time.
From spongeware to samplers to handwoven baskets, not-so-long-lost crafts are seeing a revival in the hands of modern-day artisans. These reinterpretations of traditional pieces—with an of-the-moment twist—have all the appeal of classic Americana without the quaint connotations.
Ceramic Dinner Plates by Este Ceramiche for Moda Domus, $230 for a set of four, modaoperandi.com
Last Stool by Max Lamb for Hem, $439, hem.com
Stars Cashmere Throw Blanket by Saved NY, $1,475, saved-ny.com
Cone Stretch Vase by Morgan Peck, $385, fredericksandmae.com
Ceramic Coffee Mug by Tyler Hays for BDDW, $240, store.bddw.com
Napkin with Embroidered Name by Cressida Jamieson & East London Cloth, $88, eastlondoncloth.co.uk
Short Round Fruit Basket by Longaberger, $135, thesixbells.com
“Mary Anne” by Kayla Plosz Antiel, gouache and watercolor on paper, starting at $150, kaylaplosz.com
Witches Cabinet by Sawkille Co., $24,000, sawkille.com
Cosmic Flow Patchwork Flag by Pangea, $477, pangeaaa.com
Camden Cotton Check Pillow by Schumacher, $293, chairish.com
Vandvid 7-Piece Serving Set by Niels Refsgaard for Dansk, $199, food52.com
From patchwork to quilting to embroidery, designers elevated humble folk art textile techniques to high fashion status on this season’s runways. The result? Part found-in-grandma’s-closet chic, part upstate-artist cool, and completely covetable garments we can’t wait to wear.
Subtle solids and demure florals are nice enough, but when it comes to packing a punch, we can’t get enough of colorful, exuberant folk art-inspired textiles. Perfect for pillows, just add a ruffle for maximum oomph, or keep the look tailored with a knife-edge finish or simple tape.
This article originally appeared in volume 7 of Frederic Magazine. Click here to subscribe!