Influenced by antique textiles and the natural world, Clay McLaurin's fabrics and wallpapers are the perfect balance between relaxed and refined. Clay shared with us how he approaches color, living with his collection and finding inspiration in travel.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU DECIDED TO LAUNCH YOUR NAMESAKE COLLECTION?
I studied textile design at both the University of Georgia (UGA) and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) before working several years in the textile industry in NYC. It was then that I received a phone call asking if I would consider teaching textile design at the University of Georgia in the fabric department. The idea appealed to me as I would be able to work on both my own art and give back to my alma mater. I brought fresh energy into the program but left the position after 5 years to focus on what is now a 5 year old business, Clay McLaurin Studio. Coming from a family of business owners, I always wanted to work for myself. I thrive in being independent. When studying textiles at both UGA and RISD, I knew I would make this happen, I just didn't know when. I believe in letting life unfold naturally rather than controlling the outcome as I believe one's path in life is already predestined. The hardest part is letting go to let life take over, but when you can, great things happen.
WHEN DESIGNING A NEW PRINT, WHERE DO YOU START AND WHAT PART OF THE PROCESS DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST?
All of my designs begin with some form of inspiration, this is the ideation phase. It's when I begin sourcing for my next wave of patterns. I start with a large collection of vintage fabrics bought from travels to Japan, Morocco, Europe and South America. These have become invaluable in bringing an informed point of view to my textiles. I also look at photographs I've taken of nature, i.e. leaves, grasses, or the ocean water. Textures and marks of the hand from old paintings or pieces of paintings play a role in this stage as well. I begin to draw from these references to see what evolves and takes shape. There's no one method to developing new designs, but this definitely is the most enjoyable.
YOUR COLLECTION HAS SUCH A COHESIVE USE OF COLOR. HOW HAVE YOU EVOLVED THE PALETTE OVER THE YEARS?
When it comes to color, I generally think about the color I want to live with and surround myself with. Some say it's a reflection my personality. Most of my colors are washed out. This is intentional, I like a relaxed vibe; think sun soaked beach huts where the fabrics in them have faded. That's pretty much where you'll find me. Five years ago, all I wanted was grey, white and indigo. Now, I want to live in more subtle browns, blacks, greys, and fresh blues. Lately I've been feeling blue greens and deep rose colors will make their way into the collection.
AS A TEXTILE DESIGNER, HOW DO YOU LIVE WITH PATTERN IN YOUR HOME?
I along with my partner, Todd Piercy like to mix patterns but tend to keep color to a subtle palette. For instance our bedroom is a combination of blacks, greys and browns. The curtains are Drift in the Jet colorway with an upholstered chair and lumbar pillow in the Rattan pattern. We have throw pillows from vintage textiles and the bathroom is wallpapered in Stamp in Silver while the downstairs powder is papered in Vine in Grey. Our living room is neutral but a 90" long sofa is piled with pillows from the latest collection. Generally, whatever new patterns are in the works, our sofa tends to utilize them first. We like to live in an ever changing, ever evolving world and our home is a reflection of this idea.
TRAVEL SEEMS TO BE A CONSTANT SOURCE OF INSPIRATION FOR YOU, WHAT IS YOUR DREAM DESTINATION?
For some reason, the Maldives just popped into my mind, so I'm going with that, Maldives.
WHAT'S COMING NEXT?
Stay tuned for an outdoor collection, embroidered fabrics, new wovens and those green and deep rose colors.