Interview: Textile designer Judy Ross (and a sneak peek of her new Spring 2012 collection)!
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Textile designer Judy Ross always wows with her bright color palettes, bold patterns and must-have pillows, rugs and other home textiles. We love her stuff so much, in fact, we just had to interview her to see how she does what she does.
And, it’s just in time for her big news: her Spring 2012 pillow collection is debuting at the New York International Gift Fair at Booth 3964 in the Accent on Design section from January 29th through February 2nd! We’re pleased as punch to be able to offer you this preview of her spring 2012 collection (available soon on 2Modern) with some photos she graciously sent us! Find Judy Ross Textiles on 2Modern.
2Modern: How did you get into this field? When did you know you wanted to be a textile designer?
Judy Ross: I knew early on that I wanted to be an artist, so I attended Art and Design High School in New York where I began my study of art. My father was in the textile business in the garment center so I had grown up around textiles. In college I majored in painting and art history, with a minor in textiles, and when I got out of school my first job took me to India.
I was enamored with the art and textiles of the Indian people and traveled extensively throughout the country. On one occasion I saw hand-embroidered chain stitch scarves in Kashmir and I instantly knew this centuries-old tradition could be a wonderful technique to adapt my paintings and design work. I began working with these artisans to take their tradition and turn it into a modern design.
Painting and textiles kind of melded into one. My earliest designs were paintings and collages that the artisans turned into embroidered scarves. This led to pillows and rugs, and now I have been doing this for 22 years.
2M: How would you describe you and your company’s style?
JR: I would describe myself as energetic, classic, with a simplicity that is quite sensual. My sensibility comes from my being an artist. I think less is more and there is beauty in imperfections. The work is graphic but with a painterly sense. I tend to paint compositions and then go back and simplify them to what I find essential. I strive to create timeless pieces, and many of my designs are repeated year after year in new colorways. For example, the Fauna pillow was designed in 2003 and remains one of my most popular designs.
2M: Do you live by, run your business by or achieve goals by any specific design philosophy?
JR: The artisans I work with take my vision and embroider it with immaculate care and love. They have become family to me and I think that is very important to me in business. I enjoy the fact that I am working with people and not a machine. It is a living breathing business and I rely on these artisans to take my idea and transform it into an object. Every pillow, rug, or scarf is unique because it is completely made by hand. If it had been done by a machine I don’t think I could have carried on this long. I am very involved with my relationship with the artisans so it is a very personal business. There is a wonderful collaboration going on and this keeps it fresh and unique all the time.
2M: What steps did you take to get your business running so successfully?
JR: I live, eat and breathe this business. My work revolves around a craft which is done by Indian artisans so I must be able to manage people halfway around the world. I have very high standards of quality and I think this is the reason for my success in business. I have taken the time to get to know the people I work with and they are in a way the essence of my business. I’ve gotten to know my artisans very well and expect the highest quality embroidery from them. By having a unique vision and sticking to it, I have been able to create a successful brand.
2M: What challenges do you face on a daily basis?
JR: Living in New York City, bringing up a family and running a successful business.
2M: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
JR: I have a kind of mental inspiration wall of shapes and colors from my travels and daily life. Also, my children inspire me: their energy, innocence and love is inspiring.
2M: Favorite thing about your job?
JR: I get to do what I love to do on a daily basis: painting, drawing and coming up with new designs. I also enjoy collaborating with interior designers and architects to create something specifically for their project. I have cultivated a wonderful following and many of the stores and designers I work with have been with me since the beginning, so many of my business associates feel like old friends.
It is also very fulfilling to know that I am making something that people enjoy and collect and that my vision has become a part of somebody else’s life.
2M: What’s exciting you in the design world right now?
JR: One thing that’s really interesting is the emergence of all these design blogs. Some of my favorites are Apartment Therapy and Design*Sponge. I think this helps introduce people to great design. And now of course there’s 2modern!
2M: If you were not a designer, then what would you be doing?
JR: I would still be painting and drawing.
2M: What book is on your nightstand right now?
JR: Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch.
2M: Anything new and exciting that you want to share with the 2modern readers/listeners? Like that new line you have coming out soon?
JR: I am very excited about my new Spring Collection. I have a new pillow design called Acrobat which was originally painted as beautiful, lyrical lines moving across the paper. I also did some simple bold striped pillows. I took large brushes and painted stripes, which I worked into interesting compositions. The colors are very clean and bold. One usually thinks of a striped fabric as being very mechanical but because I painted the design, and because of the fact that they are hand embroidered, they retain an organic feel. I made my Celine design into a hand knotted rug (pictured) this season and I’m in love with it!
Find Judy Ross on 2Modern!