We are proud to feature Dallas A. Saunders in our latest 5 Questions feature. We are always inspired by the beauty of Dallas’ custom printed natural fiber creations – pillows, throws, bedspreads and drapery panels. Dallas A. Saunders Studio was established in 1992 with Dallas as the Principal, working with a network of independent artists and artisans who create the finished products that Dallas envisions, designs and markets.
Who or what inspires your designs?
I have an M.F.A. from School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I studied fine art and technology back when technology was principally used for manufacturing. I love bringing a fine artists’ view to the manufacturing process, exploring new and old technology and giving it my own purpose.
My original Hearst Castle designs were inspired by architect Julia Morgan, the first woman to graduate from the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris with a degree in architecture (after obtaining an engineering degree from UC Berkeley)… her amazing career and work was overshadowed by post World War I Modernism, which as a designer I was brought up on. I am inspired by both classical and modern aesthetics.
Where are some of your favorite places to gain inspiration?
Over my career I have spent a great deal of time in research libraries and museums around the world. I will never forget being granted access to the most precious antique painted vellums in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Or, the afternoon at The Natural History Museum, London, when a quiet woman whose job was putting books back on shelves brought me the most wonderful hand painted volume – it was not of scientific/historic importance, but it was exactly what I had been searching for (with the assistance of her superiors) without luck for weeks. She told me she had been listening and hoped I could do something with the images because many staff members were worried they would lose their jobs to budget constraints. A portion of the sales from each of my museum lines goes to the institution.
Big Sur, California is my soul spot on Earth – a seat on the back deck of Nepenthe, Big Sur is as inspiring as the world gets.
What colors do you like working with?
I love natural organic colors – colors I can find as pigments in fine art watercolor and oil paint tubes. I hand paint all of my fabric designs prior to dye production. About the only colors I don’t like are the ones that the color trend forecasters pick each year. I mean, Kelly “Emerald” green? Who wants a home styled in 1980s golf pants green, or an outfit that makes you look like a leprechaun? And, “Honeysuckle” is not Pink!
Today I have a new favorite color that is a huge surprise to me. It is a grayed antique lilac pink tone. I hate pink! I really hate pink! I would never have thought of including pink in my line. But, I am in love with the bolt of Libeco’s “Thistle Flower” laundered Belgian linen that is on my work table waiting to see what it will become. I love the color and texture of this fabric so much I’m not even adding print. It will be a staple in a collection that includes fabulous French faux fur fabric that I’m importing from a mill just 39 miles from the Libeco mill. The faux fur is a gorgeous muted gray and mocha with just a hint of lilac, and I will also mix it with a soft supple mocha Italian cashmere.
Why do you like working with Belgian linen?
I love Belgian linen because of its unique range of texture, patina and hand… plus, its amazing breadth of color, both natural and dyed… it is the most elegantly aging fabric, which looks even better with use. It works beautifully with both contemporary and classic designed spaces.
Do you have favorite designers you are inspired by? Why?
My favorite designers are Axel Vervoordt and John Saladino, because of their sense of space, scale, texture, light, subtlety of color and ability to combine the classic with modern. And they know how to cut and drape textiles as beautifully as any top fashion designer.
What is the last movie you saw, or book that you’ve read, and enjoyed?
Movie: K-PAX with Kevin Spacey, from 2001. It was recommended to us by ne of our Hearst Castle Collection licensees who came to visit us.
I am reading: Pete Townsend – “Who Am I”
*Oops, that was Question 6!
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