Exclusive Interview: Sandy Chilewich Pt. 2

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As we said in our post earlier last week, our interview with Chilewich founder Sandy Chilewich was so awesome, we had to break it up into two parts. So, for your reading or listening pleasure, here’s part two (full of good stuff)!

And while they work perfectly fine as stand-alones, we do suggest you check out the great things she has to say in part one or, if you’re ready to start shopping now, find great Chilewich products and prices at 2Modern.

Beginning On originality and whether she looks to the design world around her for inspiration:
Sandy Chilewich: I am very passionate about being original. I mean I like a lot of things out there; I love a lot of things that go on out there in the design world in textiles and so forth. But if I feel that there is somebody out there that has put their particular stamp on a particular process or material, I will never go there. I mean, that is how I feel about design integrity. Even if I feel like that person isn’t doing a good of job as I think I could do if I had that material, I still won’t go there.

So I have a tremendous pressure to stay original. I look around out there. Things might inspire me, but I would never…I look, in a way, at finished products to tell me what I can’t do, more than what I can do. I look at unfinished processes that tell me what I can do. I mean you expect a whole genre of people out there, and there are big-box retailers and that’s what they do; they look at a design and they actually in some respects even improve it and make it more accessibly-priced, but it does all start to look generic, and that’s sad.

1:40 How Chilewich looks for and decides on collaborations with other objects
Sandy Chilewich: What other finished products could utilize our signature textiles that are the right marriage? We do iPhone cases that are sold through the Apple store and that was a perfect marriage of a hard shell and our material over it and it just looked like they were made for each other.

One of the things is to find other things without diluting the material, that are really, really good partners together. Our material and something else, a different application. Notebooks, let’s say. Luggage. Furniture—outdoor furniture, which is kind of where this material emanated from. This manufacturing process was designed to produce outdoor furniture upholstery. And it was by working with that equipment and designing with that equipment that we were able to do what we do; finding other offshoots to marry our materials with.

2:40 What’s in the plans for the immediate future of Chilewich and Sandy?
Sandy Chilewich: The other thing that I’m spending a great deal of time doing is…right now so much of our product is a woven product, actually all woven in the U.S. which is kind of amazing. And all finished in our own warehouse; we’ve become pretty much vertical. We process about 40,000 placemats a week at our own facility.

But I don’t want to be locked in on one textile so people say “oh that’s Chilewich” and if you say that long enough, then if I try something else then they’ll say “well that’s not Chilewich.” And I need to break that stereotype. So I’m spending a great deal of energy here on other processes that don’t look like our products. One of our product lines that I talked about earlier, a pressed vinyl, which is made with a mold and is not a woven product and that is different. But I’m pursuing more and more of getting out of this genre. Not to have it take over the other, because I want to keep fueling that other part because it’s a beautiful media, the woven product. But it’s new products, new materials.

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