Textile designer Rebecca Atwood lives along the gritty Gowanus shoreline, but her painterly patterns and soft colors conjure images of the ocean and are inspired by her childhood on Cape Cod.
“I think that’s my foundation, and I’m always trying to create that feeling that I had growing up there, especially when you’re living in the city, where it’s such a hectic place,” Atwood said. “I always want my home to feel calm.”
Atwood, 33, a painter by training, got her start after college as a product designer for Anthropologie. She launched her eponymous line five years ago with 60 shibori pillows that she hand-dyed in her old apartment in Park Slope. The pillows sold out in two months.
“That’s when I knew there was a connection,” Atwood said. “It started in the second bedroom and slowly it expanded. We were shipping out of the living room and I was washing screens in the shower and dying in the kitchen.”
She now carries more than 100 patterns, including all colorways, of pillows, fabric by the yard, wallpaper and — as of this month — bedding. Her business has grown to include three employees based out of a 900-square-foot studio in Industry City in Sunset Park, where Atwood is constantly brainstorming new patterns with her paintbrush and sketchbook.
Production has moved from her apartment to printing facilities in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Her embroidered fabrics are made in India and bedding is produced in Portugal. And she has become a favorite of interior designers and popular design bloggers like Emily Henderson.
“One thing that I love about Rebecca Atwood fabrics is the artistry that goes into them,” said interior designer Alexii Friedman of Brooklyn-based Friedman-Moore. “They feel very artistic and not mass-produced.”
Friedman has used Atwood’s fabrics mainly for decorative accents, like chairs or throw pillows, she said.
“You can mix multiple patterns of hers and they kind of just mix together seamlessly without feeling awkward,” Friedman said. “Her color palette can go in any space; they’re like a chameleon.”
Atwood is among a growing number of textile designers who produce textiles in small quantities, including the Brooklyn-based Eskayel and Kate Loudoun Shand. Thanks to advances in printing technology, textile designers can produce small batches of fabric as customers order them.
“Most small-batch lines print on demand rather than tying up their resources with inventory,” said Stacy Waggoner of Studio Four, a textile, wallpaper and rug showroom in Manhattan that sells many small-batch textiles. “Most can print within three to four weeks and the result has been a lot more adventurous design.”
“It’s really ramped up in the last five or six years,” Waggoner said. “When Studio Four opened in 2009, there were a small handful of artisanal lines, but we are now seeing lots of new collections popping up every year.”
Studio Four used to carry Atwood’s fabrics and wallpapers, which are sold through a few showrooms across the country and directly through her web site, www.rebeccaatwood.com. But her products will soon be available to New Yorkers at the Rebecca Atwood store opening this spring in Nolita.
The Mott Street store will carry her bedding, fabric, wallpaper, pillows and products from other complementary designers. And Atwood hopes to someday add more product lines.
“We do want to become a true destination for pattern in your home and have many different categories,” Atwood said. “But I’d say right now we’re focusing on bedding and getting the store up and running before we tackle a new category again.”
[Photos via Rebecca Atwood unless noted otherwise]
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