Kevin Kerr

From Furnishings to Fashion, American Folk Art Is Having a Revival

March 24, 2023

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.

At the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, wears an original handwoven basket skirt of her own design. “The skirt originated from my senior thesis, which was partly inspired by Shaker ideals,” she says. For more information, visit emilyridings.com.

Cassie Lopez


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.

An antique vanity captures the heritage-made-modern vibe of the Workstead-designed Canoe Place Inn & Suites. Rooms from $550 a night, canoeplace.com.

Matthew Williams


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.


    Michelle Ficker and Peter Dolkas (both Billy Cotton alums) of Brooklyn-based Studio Dorion make Shaker style and spongeware feel novel.

    Courtesy of Studio Doiron

    Updating historic homes with contemporary notes is a passion for the New York and North Fork, Long Island–based Hadley Wiggins, who specializes in vintage finds.

    Courtesy of Hadley Wiggins

    From 19th-century wall stencils to Folk Art panels, Connecticut designer Lilse McKenna reinterprets classic Americana with a fresh New England accent.

    Read Mckendree/JBSA

    Across the pond, Russell Loughlan’s chronicling of his London home renovations for his blog, The House on Dolphin Street, blossomed into a sought-after interiors practice.

    Russell Loughlan


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.

  • Burgundy Cotton Shirt ($745), Black Cotton Shorts ($415), and Black/White Leather Boots ($1,085) by Dries Van Noten, driesvannoten.com.

  • Patch Pocket Coat, Sack Sport Coat, and Ankle Length Skirt (prices upon request), Oxford Button Down Shirt ($490), and Curved Heel Longwing Brogue ($990) by Thom Browne, thombrowne.com.

    Courtesy of Thom Browne
  • Cari Patchwork Jacket ($595), Cari Patchwork Shorts ($295), and Winn T-Shirt ($150) by Sea NY, sea-ny.com.

    Courtesy of Sea NY
  • Timantti Patchwork Quilted Long Coat ($420) by Projekti TYYNY, projektityyny.com.

    Hana Snow
  • Black Beret ($250), Red Sailor Bib (price upon request), Patchwork Jacquard Jacket ($1,340), Patchwork Jacquard Pleat Pant ($795), and Black Kenzosmile Derbies ($780) by Kenzo, kenzo.com.

  • Classic GL Tux Studio Shirt ($750) and GL Vintage Denim Lounge Pant ($1,850) made in collaboration with Gee’s Bend by Greg Lauren, greglauren.com.



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.

Fabrics left to right, top to bottom: Farm Scene, Hotch Potch Crazy Quilt by Johnson Hartig/Libertine, Caldwell Patchwork Chintz, Annika Floral Tapestry, Colonial Crewel, Hotch Potch Crazy Quilt by Johnson Hartig/Libertine, Embroidered Tile by David Kaihoi, all by Schumacher, fschumacher.com; also available as ready-made pillows. Campobello Performance Fabric by Sister Parish, sisterparish.com. Floor painted in Kennebunkport Green HC-123and White Dove PM-19 by Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.

Kevin Kerr

This article originally appeared in volume 7 of Frederic Magazine. Click here to subscribe!