Designer Spotlight: Wippowillow

by Gina

We mentioned the other day that our beautiful treasures from Portland-based Wippowillow had arrived.  And, they truly are treasures.  Kate, owner, designer, creator of Wippowillow, has been kind enough to answer some questions for us to learn more about her, her inspiration, and the collection.  Enjoy the read and check out her site for more gorgeous home goods by Kate.

photo from Wippowillow

We’d love to know a bit about your history as a designer. Are you a life-long designer or did you discover it as an adult?  

KT: I was a very creative child and was involved in dance, visual art, and theatre early on.  Like most children, I had a very active imagination, but I really decided that pursuing fine art was my path sometime in High School.  I had incredibly supportive art teachers who strongly encouraged me to pursue my passion and believed in my creative talents.   I was also fortunate to have parents who supported my creative interests and believed in the importance and validity of the arts.   My love for the arts just grew and eventually led me into the apparel and textile design area.  I studied textiles both as an art form and as design for the industry.  I am still very interested in both avenues and am particularly interested in exploring ideas of merging the two fields.

What was your path to pursuing this as a career?

I attended a liberal arts college and received a BA in Sculpture and Art History.  It wasn’t until the end of my time as an undergraduate that I started experimenting with fabric as a sculpture medium.  From there, I took some time off to travel and ended up working in a small town in North Dakota as an Artist In Residence.  It was here that I continued experimenting with fabric for sculpture and it sparked my interest in textile surface design.  I received my Masters of fine arts in textile art and design from the University of Wisconsin with a concentration in large scale textile print design.   Since then I experimented with designing a line of women’s dresses and handbags and teaching some fibers classes at the Portland art colleges. Wippowillow was born in the Fall of 2011 and has continued to grow and develop every day.  What is most exciting about the Textile design studio is the possibilities for collaborations and custom projects.   It keeps me inspired and creative all the time.

photo from Wippowillow

Tell us a bit about your collection you designed for Bolt?  

KT: After meeting with Gina, we discussed color combinations and decided on the final colors based off a combination that has always spoke to Gina which just happens to be the same color we are using in the Wippowillow Felt Collection right now!  I am so in love with the deep mahogany and still can’t get enough of the pop of Tangerine (Pantone’s color of the year).  The patterns themselves are part of our current line called “Reflections”.  You will see stylized leaves and lily pads and imaginary flowers.  These designs started as sketches of places in nature where you might find yourself daydreaming or meditating. For instance, laying under a canopy of leaves or peering over the ledge at the lily pads silently floating.

What are some of your favorite fabrics/materials to work with?

KT: I love pressed wool felt as you can see from my current textile collection.  It is a material I have worked with off and on for a long time and keep going back to. Honestly, I have a soft spot for any soft tactile fabric. In fact, I would like to experiment further with the sheer cottons we used in the Bolt Collection.  

photo from Wippowillow

What trends in fabric design have you excited?

KT: There is a lot of interest in fabric surface design right now and I am excited to see where it leads. I am hoping that it creates more resources for digital printing in the US that are accessible and affordable.  Large scale screen printing is an older studio tradition that is not widely taught, but I think there is a strong desire to learn and design that way.  As someone who is a big supporter of education and outreach programs, I would love to see a textile printing space materialize that embraces the education and collaboration of designers and artists.

What’s on your sewing machine right now?

KT: Haha! I am sure I am not alone when I say I have a few  (ok, maybe more than a few) unfinished projects on my sewing machine!  I am going on the record here to say those projects will get finished someday.  It just might not be tomorrow or the next day. :)

We love to hear about locals’ favorite spots in town. What are some of your favorite haunts?

KT: Ahhh, well most of my favorite spots include food.  A few that top my list are the ragu and radicchio salad at Tasty and Sons, the burger with cheese and an egg at Grain and Gristle, and just about any pizza from Kens Artisan Pizza.  Take me out to any one of those places and you will make my week!  A good day in Portland?  How about relaxing in the Rose Gardens in the afternoon and then off to one of our amazing cheap movie theatres for a great flick with a beer and slice of pizza!  That sounds pretty great to me!

 photo from Wippowillow

The selection of goods Kate created for Bolt include a velveteen, a canvas, and two sheer gauze prints.  Each of these are perfect for a variety of projects: home decor (pillows, curtains), apparel (skirts, blouses) and accessories (scarves, bags).  Let them inspire you.

Thank you Kate!