Designer Crush: Caroline Cecil

1. Who is your biggest role model?
Simon Doonan, window dresser extraordinaire and the former creative director of Barneys, New York. I first discovered Simon’s work in 1998 through his book, Confessions Of A Window Dresser: Tales From A Life In Fashion. That book changed the way I looked at the creative process and inspired me to be more creative within my own work. I have always been fascinated with the art of window dressing and appreciate how he used window dressing as a way to tell stories and bring the NYC downtown and East Village culture to an uptown audience. He really disrupted the window dressing industry at that time, creating installations that were not only beautiful but also entertaining, provocative, and above all, hip. His windows were never lacking a narrative.
               
2. Which movie or play do you wish you could have designed the set for?
Any Wes Anderson movie, I love his work! My first choice would probably be Grand Budapest Hotel.
 
3. Where do you get your inspiration for your textile designs?
My background is in fashion design, so we are constantly looking at runway shows for seasonal trend directives. The fashion industry is ahead of the interiors world from a trend perspective and it fascinates me to watch which pattern and color trends trickle down from the runways and land in interiors. Another area I draw so much inspiration from right now is sourcing. We work with artisans who weave and print our line, and are always touring and meeting new people in the textile industry that are really the original makers. I love the energy of being in a factory, seeing things being made, and especially watching the printing process. Visiting a factory always breeds new design ideas.
 
4. What new design trends are you excited to integrate into your work?
We are always looking at emerging color and pattern trends, as well as trends that aren’t completely new but rather evolve a little bit each season. Right now I’m in love with the evolution of the tropical print trend. You see it everywhere now and there’s something fresh but classic about big palm fronds, banana leaves, a lush blue/green color palette. One of the things I enjoy most about designing for interiors is that trends aren’t as fleeting as they are in fashion. There is something more permanent and intimate about interiors. They evolve much slower, and when they do “arrive,” they stay around for a bit longer. It gives us as designers more time to experiment with and be inspired by a trend, which is a great gift! 

5. How do you completely unwind?
Playing with my 4-pound Toy Pomeranian, Taos. He is like a furry ball of pure happiness: he is always running, playing, and smiling! Cooking and gardening are also big stress releasers. Working with my hands is a great way to stay in the moment, which for me is a big part of unwinding.
 
6. If you hadn't become a designer, which career would you have pursued?
I can’t imagine a life in which my career isn't creative. If not textile design, I imagine I’d work in trend. It’s always been something I’ve loved, mostly because I’m a total research nerd and am fascinated by anthropology.
 
7. What’s the worst pre-designer job you’ve ever had and why?
I’ve been lucky enough to spend my entire career in the textile design industry. Can’t believe it’s already been 11 years! I guess the worst job would have to be the first internship I had, working with a fabric atelier in New York. The company was full of amazing creative characters and the client base was really high end. However, as the intern I got the short end of the stick on projects, which meant hand-painting fabrics in a dark and damp basement in Queens. There were no windows, and it was pretty back-breaking work standing and painting crouched over for hours on end. However, the results were gorgeous and seeing the final piece on the glossy runway made it all worth it! It was also a great learning experience, often times the most beautiful product is created in the most wretched environment.
 
8. What’s your favorite recipe (can also be a cocktail recipe!)?
Almost every morning I make green smoothie with banana, kale, almond milk, and ice. It is so easy to make, is super delicious, and is the prettiest color green. You eat with your eyes first, right?
 
9. Create your perfect playlist for us.
At work we listen to a lot of atmospheric, moody music from the classics to electronica, so long as it lets us focus, whether we’re generating spreadsheets, scouring Pinterest, or painting. Here’s a sampling of our favorites in the design studio:
 
 
Lightning round!
 
11. Would you rather shop new or vintage?
New! I am completely obsessed with the French clothing brand Claudie Pierlot. They have the most wonderful classic black and white pieces that are minimalistic but still feminine. I also love Chanel for accessories. I have a vintage Chanel cuff bracelet that I adore and will wear for the rest of my life. Over time it’s collected so much charm, the character is undeniable.

12.  First celebrity crush?
Zach Morris from Saved By The Bell.

13. What’s your hidden talent?
Baking! As a young girl growing up in Maine, I used to make lattice top pies with my grandmother after school. It’s like weaving, only with dough. I’ve continued the tradition and love making pies, tarts, cakes, and breads from scratch.

14. Best restaurant in your area? Where is it?
Penrose in Oakland. They have amazing cocktails, cook everything in a wood fire oven, and the interior is chic in a bohemian/undone way that feels casual but pulled together.
 
15. SF or LA?          
Both. I love the creative culture in LA and the rolling cityscape in SF. We manufacture our textiles in California, so living in San Francisco I’m able to travel to LA often!