Ruby Sails

Ruby Sails

So, here we are again, starting a new year.

By definition, it’s a time of transition.

For my daughter, Ruby, 2014 means transitioning to a new class at school. This year, she and 23 other 6-year olds are forming a new class of ‘oldest kindergarteners’, leaving the 4- and 5-year olds behind.

Before school let out for vacation in December, her teacher gave a small party for the graduates and their parents. We were invited to hear her tell a story about a group of ‘cloud men’ who set sail on a new adventure. Along the way, they encounter difficulties, but learn to help each other, and all ends well. The message was: expect the unexpected, stick together, be kind to and help one another, and all will be OK.

Ruby with her classmates, before the story of the 'cloud men.'

Ruby with her classmates, before the story of the ‘cloud men.’

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about transitions lately, as I just spent a week at ‘home’ in Providence. I put ‘home’ in quotes because, as all expats will attest, the meaning of the word becomes confused. ‘Home’ is both the place you come from, and the place you currently reside. Two different places. Two different homes.

In Providence, I don’t have to try as hard as I do here in the Netherlands. It’s a place I know so well, having lived there for the first 18 years of my life. I know it without thinking, feel it without touching, see it without looking, hear it without listening. I can relax into a state of almost complete passivity. It’s just a part of me. When I walk into the CVS around the corner from my childhood home, the sliding doors parting automatically upon my arrival, I smell the same carpet shampoo I smelled when I was 14. And there’s comfort in that.

At the same time, after almost 7 years of living here, the Netherlands is my home too. In the past, I’ve had a hard time transitioning back to my life here after visiting the States. But this time, I felt totally at peace: at peace with where I come from and the place I’m currently at, on the road to wherever I’m going. It feels natural that ‘home’ is a relative term. Whether I’m flying east or west over the Atlantic, it’s always a homecoming.

And this, in turn, makes me think about my daughters, Ruby and Juliette, at different points on their journeys of growing up and, ultimately, away from me. Ruby, at almost 6, is a good deal further. Her world has become so much bigger this past year, with school and friends and classes … lots of relationships outside of the one she has with me. Juliette, at 3.5, is in a state of limbo. She’s looking on the one hand to her big sister and wanting all that she has, and on the other to her little brother and wanting all that he has. She’s at once reaching back to babyhood, to being close to me all the time, and reaching out to her own, separate identity, and the separate person she will become.

In the week we spent visiting family in the US, this played out in the form of seemingly endless tantrums and tears. By now, I’ve learned to stay calm in these situations, understanding it’s not about the cracker she insists on having or the leggings she won’t wear. It’s about this journey that she’s on, about not yet finding this peace between places: the place she comes from, the place she’s at, and the place that she is going. It’s an inevitable breaking away, a letting go. And it hurts. Just like the ‘cloud men’, she’s hit some choppy waters.

I just need to be steady and to show her, repeatedly, that we’re going to stick together, that we’re going to be kind to and help one another, and that all will be OK.

I know this because I can look at Ruby, a few years further on, and see that this is the way it should be, that, in growing up, these kids will need to go and come back, go and come back to me time and time again. And I will need to let them go, while holding my own ground, their home ground.

Before Christmas vacation, in our final conference with Ruby’s former teacher, we heard that Ruby has ‘an incredible work ethic.’ She does all of her ‘assignments’ with enthusiasm, but doesn’t ask for extra. This, her teacher said, is because she has her own deep well of ideas to draw from, about what she wants to do, things she wants to try. She has a constant source of inspiration in her imagination, and, thanks to this, is always ‘content.’

I’ve thought about this a lot since our conversation, and it’s occurred to me that this is the greatest gift I could wish on her. I’m so happy for her that she is locating this source of contentment, not in things, not in bells or whistles, but in herself. I think that is the key to a happy life: a truly inexhaustible source of inspiration.

And I also realize that being Ruby’s mother has become, at some point over the last six years, less about her being a positive reflection on me and more and more about her becoming her own miraculous person. She is less a product of my nurturing and more a product of her own nature. These qualities, this shape she’s taking on is hers. Hers to keep and take with her, as she sets sail.

And, most of the time, it feels surprisingly okay, letting her be on her way. Watching her look out, make new connections, form new relationships, glancing back less and less frequently in my direction.

rubysails3

That being said, when she does turn around, and remember me, when she does send a glance my way, asking me to be the one to sit with her, read with her, tuck her into bed, I’m there. And I know that our history is there, in a glance, in a smile, in a goodnight kiss. These everyday moments are little homecomings in and of themselves. She is the child who made me a mother, the best thing I’ve ever been.

At 20, I interned at the Southeast Lighthouse on Block Island, giving tours in exchange for my room at the Block Island Historical Society. At that time, I wrote a piece in my journal about finding myself in a conflicting current of will, like the waters at the foot of the island’s Mohegan Bluffs. How could I ever have known? Fifteen years later, my first child would be making preparations sail off on her own course, and I would find myself, again, in a conflicting current.

I realize that this journey is hers to make. And that swells my heart, and breaks it at the same time, like a wave crashing at the shore.

Oh sure, I know she hasn’t yet left the harbor that is our home, but her boat is built, or almost built. It’s just a question of raising her sails, catching the wind, and letting it take her to open water.

And I realize that my place is here, atop the bluff.

Ruby sails, and I realize, I cannot go with her.

I am only the lighthouse – no – the keeper. The keeper of the light.

I will stay here – yes – and I will keep the light. Here, in the place she came from. The place she must know she can always come back to. I will pound out the steady, unchanging, unending cadence of the light, like a heartbeat. If I do my job right, and keep this light right, she will know, as she goes, that this is a place she knows without thinking, feels without touching, sees without looking, and hears without listening.

And I will answer, without her asking.

You come from light. You come from a truly. incredible. love.

We all need a place like that.

So, sail on Ruby, on your ruby sails.

Sail on, though I realize, I cannot go with you.

And may yours be a spectacular journey.

signature

Web shop live!

Web shop live!

Happy New Year everybody! I’m hoping that this year brings you all the best.

And thanks for holding on until 2014!

The web shop is finally live and working beautifully, so head on over to www.elliecashmandesign.com to see the collection I’ve been working on for the past couple of years. You can order samples and get instant quotes via the site.

It went live on Christmas Eve, and I figured no one was sitting around at their computer waiting for that news … Then I went to the US for a week to visit my family. More on that in a future post :)

But now I’m back at my desk and ready to share this exciting news with you (and ready for the orders to start pouring in :) )

I hope you love the shop. I’d love to hear constructive feedback too. You can e-mail me at ellie@elliecashmandesign.com.

In the meantime, I’m working hard to add more designs and products. If you want to stay informed, sign up for my monthly newsletter here.

Until next time,

signature

The Hangover

The Hangover

Unfortunately, this post probably isn’t going to be as funny as the movie that shares its title, arguably one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Last week when I posted I was on a tremendous high, anticipating that all the hard work I’ve been doing over the past years was finally coming to fruition. The (perhaps inevitable) follow up to that post is, not surprisingly, the hangover :(

When those maternity nurses I talked about last week come to work on the 4th day of their 8 day stay, they know their ‘patient’ is going to have some kind of terrible, embarrassing crying fit. They told me this 4 days after Nathan was born, when I was in the middle of one such fit.

It makes it all the worse to know you’re that predictable. You’re a hostage to your hormones, a sad cliché …

And I found myself in that place again this past weekend. This web shop is like my 4th child. Last Friday it finally went live/was born at www.elliecashman.com. Unfortunately, it hasn’t (in my book) earned a 10 on the Apgar scale of web shops – yet. A few things are still missing/not functioning properly.

webshopforblog

I was so looking forward to sending out my big MailChimp (birth) announcement and writing gleefully about the whole experience on my blog. I was expecting a marching band, Arsenio Hall fist pumps … I wanted to spike the football in the end zone and run a victory lap, trophy in hand. Then top it all off with some embarrassing dance moves.

But it just wasn’t quite there yet.

Last Friday, I realized I would have to refrain from all-out celebration, just a little bit longer …

And there I was, sort of in limbo. The site was live, but at the same time I wasn’t ready to take it full speed to the masses, shout it from the rooftops, etc.

So I decided to devote my afternoon to the design I’m currently working on. I’m about 2 months in and have at least that many months to go. It’s such slow-going, but I’m hacking away at the thick brush of it. If I’m lucky, I have a couple of (consecutive?) hours to work on it each day.

Here’s a super sneak peek:

meticulous

Last Friday my husband took the afternoon off of work so that I could have some glorious, uninterrupted time with it. I was finally getting somewhere, was starting to think ahead to relaxing on my living room couch with a glass of wine and a good movie, when my Mac froze and I lost 3 hours of unsaved work on it! Argh!! Can’t you just feel the anxiety in your chest?? I thought I was going to throw up!

I know, I know, how could I be so stupid? I usually save every half hour. This was just bad, bad luck.

And, at the end of a disappointing day, this was enough to push me over the edge, into the deep, dingy pit of postpartum blues.

I was determined to claw my way out, but that meant foregoing that glass of wine. Every ‘free’ moment I had this past weekend was devoted entirely to stubbornly trying to turn my Mac misfortune into a blessing in disguise. I decided to grant myself a reprieve from this huge undertaking of a design and do something ‘fun’ (albeit at my computer).

A few months ago, my cousin-in-law, who will be only the 15th midwife in the history of Netherlands to receive her PhD, asked me if I would design the cover of her dissertation for her. It’s an honor, of course.

She was envisioning two birds as symbols of the cooperation between mother and child/mother and midwife, etc. So this weekend I left my Dark Floral #2, monstrous 17th-century floral still life wallpaper design on the shelf, and I cranked this out.

marritkaft

We still want to play with it, with the colors, scale, maybe remove some elements. But at least it felt good to ‘finish’ something in a short period of time. Which has me thinking that I need to work on quick, loose designs like this at the same time I’m working on the meticulous monsters. For the sake of my mental health!

But now, it’s time to get back to that beast!

signature

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

This year, at Thanksgiving, I’m compelled to reflect on the year behind me, even though it’s not over yet. That’s because so much has changed for me this year, in a way I’m especially grateful for.

At 36, I feel more complete than ever before in my life. Not because anything is finished. Quite the contrary, I have this amazing feeling that things are just beginning. It’s just the foundation that feels complete. Many times over the last (almost) 7 years, since I relocated to the Netherlands, it’s been heavy lifting. But I chose this life. I think I chose it because I knew it would be hard … to start my life over again, in a new land and a new language.

Design sketches from 2007.

Hand sketches from 2007.

In February of 2007, I took a one-way flight from New Amsterdam to Old Amsterdam. And I made a deal with myself. When I set foot on this side of the ocean, I wouldn’t speak English, a language that, after 30 years, felt like a form-fitting suit lined with cloud fleece. If something was going to come out of my mouth, it would be in Dutch, a language which I’d been studying once a week for a couple of years. In New York City, I’d found a native Dutch speaker who met me in Starbuckses all over Manhattan, sending me home with long lists of vocab. And I studied, I did, but I had a head full of words and no idea how to put them together. I had a box of beads, but no string, no clasps … no grammatical grasps.

I don’t know why I was so adamant about quitting English cold turkey (a fitting phrase for this time of year, don’t you think?) I had visions of immersing myself in Dutch for 6 months, at the end of which I would awake from a Dutch dream, knowing myself to be truly ‘fluent.’ Oh, how warped was my notion of learning a second language?? All these years later, I’ve only woken from a number of Dutch dreams (a number I can count on two hands) and what they all had in common was a feeling of stress and struggling to express myself.

What happened in those early months is that I started to say a lot less. I couldn’t express complex thoughts in Dutch. Telling stories was highly challenging; telling jokes was all but impossible. I didn’t know how to say things, so I didn’t say them at all. My personality changed: I became quieter, more serious.

Design sketches from 2008.

Hand sketches from 2008.

At 30 years old, I was starting over, laying down the first stones of a new foundation. In my new world, I felt like I child. There were so many things I didn’t understand, so many ways in which I felt out of my depths. Everyday tasks of doing groceries or going to the post office forced me to confront my incapacity, my uncertainty. Standing in line, I would look up just long enough to observe that the Dutch people around me were so much better adapted to their surroundings than I, with their native language skills and their totally sick biking abilities. I ejected myself from conversations the way I ejected myself from my bike seat on the Brouwersgracht, for fear of making mistakes, for fear of crashing.

While I disengaged from the outside world, I was escaping to an inner one, where I had another language. It wasn’t English, it wasn’t Dutch, it wasn’t even made up of letters or words at all. It was a language of images, of colors and forms, textures and patterns. It wasn’t a new language for me, but the way I needed it was new.

Design sketches from 2008.

Hand sketches from 2008.

This led me, in 2010, to establish Ellie Cashman Design. I started designing surface patterns for an agent in the US and an agent here in the Netherlands. I loved it, and whenever our two daughters (Ruby, then 2.5 and Juliette, then newborn) were at daycare or asleep, I was at my laptop (I can’t believe it now, but my first designs were done on a laptop with a 17″ screen. How spoiled I’ve become since then, with a 27″ iMac and a large Wacom tablet!)

Anyway, this thing called surface design seemed to combine my fine art and graphic design background. But it was such a big field, and I was just beginning to explore its many possibilities – to design for fashion, home interiors, wrapping paper, stationery products, quilting fabrics, tech products, you name it! I was looking at blogs like Print and Pattern and Pattern Observer and I was overwhelmed by all the inspiration I found there. I tried to emulate lots of styles as a path to finding my own. That’s what I was doing then, finding my style, experimenting with the technology – hardware and software – to see what was possible. Selling a design here and there.

Design made during a class in hand/digital techniques at the Textile Museum in Tilburg, 2009.

Design made during a class in combining hand/digital techniques at the Textile Museum in Tilburg, NL, 2009.

Because it was something I did in my ‘free’ time, something I loved to do and did for myself (not for a boss) and because I wasn’t making any money to speak of, it still felt like a hobby. It was hard to explain to people what I was doing. I had no finished products to show. When my agents sold my work, it was out of a portfolio of dozens of other nameless designers. I was anonymous. I felt disconnected. I knew I wanted to get to these trade shows myself, that no one would do a better job of representing me than I could, but with two young kids at home, I didn’t have the time resources to create the volume of work that would make going to a trade show worthwhile. My big goal for 2013 was to do Surtex for the first time (a few months before Nathan was born) but halfway through the pregnancy I decided to take that pressure off of myself and I canceled my booth reservation.

My early designs were mostly made using Adobe Illustrator.

From 2010-2012, I made my designs using Adobe Illustrator.

Then, unexpectedly, in April of 2013, several months after I’d posted it, an image of one of my dark floral wallpaper designs went viral on Pinterest. I started getting several e-mails a week from people who wanted to know where they could buy it. At that time, I was talking to a potential manufacturer. I’d been waiting for years to be ‘discovered’ by a manufacturer, and it looked like it was finally going to happen! But then that partnership fell through. I think because the interest I was receiving via social media gave me the confidence to ask for an advance, which scared the manufacturer off. I’m so happy about that, in hindsight, because each week brought more e-mails.

Some of my first digitally painted flowers, 2012.

In 2012, I moved on to Adobe Photoshop. These are some of my first digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

At first, I didn’t know what to tell people. The wallpaper wasn’t available, yet, but I was working on it. I thought, “OK, if there are actually people out there who want to buy it, maybe I could look into having it custom printed.” And I posted a discussion on the Dutch Designers’ Association Group on LinkedIn, asking if anyone had good experience with wallpaper printers. I got lots of good tips, several of which I followed up on, and I ended up with a fantastic partner, a printer with a lot of experience, even a bit of a specialty, in wallpaper. The team there has since contributed to my creative process in ways I couldn’t have imagined! It changed everything when I started to design for a specific product, for a specific context and industry. My early work was missing that. I needed a focus, and in the early summer of 2013, I knew it was wallpaper.

Detail of the dark floral wallpaper that went viral on Pinterest in 2013.

Detail of the dark floral wallpaper that went viral on Pinterest in 2013.

In August, I started shipping out my first rolls of that dark floral wallpaper, and in the months since I’ve tracked packages online as they’ve boarded trucks, trains and planes on their way to other continents (5 so far!) I watch, literally in a state of giddiness and awe, as the wallpaper journeys from loading points to check points to delivery points. The UPS guy and I are becoming fast friends, as he’s patiently teaching me best practices in printing shipping labels, customs invoices and running a little business from the storefront of my front door.

This has been the perfect primer period leading up to the launch of my web shop, which really should be this coming week. The builders say they’ll be done by Tuesday. Then we’ll run a couple of tests, and be live by Friday. And, as I think about that, as I look back on the last (almost) 7 years and the last year in particular, and I feel incredibly thankful for what feels like the completion of a foundational stage, I think about a particular moment on a particular day of this past year.

It was in the early morning hours of August 19th, around 1:00 a.m. I was in a hospital parking lot, climbing into the passenger side of our silver minivan.  My husband was in the driver’s seat, and our new baby Nathan, only three hours old at the time, was strapped into his car seat behind us. It was pitch dark and there was no one else around, just our two maternity nurses in their cars behind us, ready to follow us home. In the Netherlands, there are no hospital stays after normal, uncomplicated births. They send you home as soon as you can stand up again. That may sound strange, but the trade off is these maternity nurses who come and care for you for 8 days in your home. It’s a good trade, as there is just nothing like your own bed, especially when you’re cuddled up with your newborn in it, and someone is bringing you breakfast in it :)

When I closed the car door in that hospital parking lot, my husband and I were alone for the first time since all the delivery room drama had gone down. Suddenly, there were no doctors, midwives, or nurses telling us what to do. So there we were, in the darkness and the silence, searching for words while the still images from those few preceding hours rolled by on a mental reel.

We didn’t know anything about Nathan before he was born, besides that he got hiccups a couple times a day and kicked most at night. We chose not to know his gender. Because, we said, we’ll know it someday, and sometimes in life it’s actually nice not to know. And so we spent 9 months wondering, as we’d done with his sisters before him. In that way, I think our kids were just dreams to us, so abstract, until the moment they were there, and we could see and touch them, name them, and drive home with our dreams in the back seat. Healthy. Boy. That moment had come (again) and it was incredible.

In the silence, we scraped our minds for the words to describe it, and the word that came was “complete.”

And then there was nothing more to do but hit the gas, and go.

Ruby, Juliette and Nathan.

Ruby, Juliette and Nathan, September 2013.

And that is how I feel now, about my family and about my work. The foundation has been laid. I’ve spent the last few years digging the hole, gathering the stones and putting them in place. So much of the activity was underground and unexciting, but at the end of 2013, I feel I’ve reached the surface, am maybe even breaking it and starting to build on top of it.

In 2013, there was an image.

In 2013, there was an image, and behind that image, I found words again.

In 2013, there was an image, and behind that image, I found words again. I’m engaged in conversations, with my customers, my photographer, my printer, my web builder. On this side, I have something to say, and a language with which to say it.

Last Wednesday, after Ruby’s ballet class, one of her classmates gave us a baby gift. We came home, put Nathan in bed, and Ruby and Juliette did the honors of opening ‘his’ present for him. It was a book called Meneer (Mr.) René by Leo Timmers.

Meneer René, by Leo Timmers.

Meneer René, by Leo Timmers.

We quickly settled into our spots on the living room couch, with Ruby on my right arm and Juliette on my left, and started to read the story of Réné, a dog who is a painter. He goes to the market every weekend and tries to sell his paintings, but no one ever wants to buy them. One day, a magic man shows up and tells him that if he cuts his paintings out, they’ll become real. So he cuts out a painting of an apple, and in an amazing instant, he’s holding a real, edible fruit. Then he rushes home and paints cars and planes and big house, which he’s sitting in a short time later when a rabbit named Rose comes to the door and rings his bell, asking to buy one of his paintings.

Rose ringing René's doorbell.

Rose ringing René’s doorbell.

He says he doesn’t paint anymore, that he doesn’t have any paintings to sell, and he sends Rose home empty handed. But that gets René to thinking, and eventually, he paints a painting of the magic man, cuts him out, and asks him to reverse the spell, so that his paintings will no longer come to life. Then he paints a regular old painting – a painting of a rose – and he heads off to the market and gives it to the rabbit named Rose.

To me, the message is: having things that you can keep is great and all, but given the choice, wouldn’t we all – as Réné did – give those things up to have one thing that we can give away?

I feel so lucky to have cast my line of life questions into a pool of possibilities, and to have had these answers come back to me. I feel so lucky to know what it feels like to bring life into the world. Nothing will top that. But as an artist, a respectable second place goes to knowing what it feels like when a rabbit named Rose rings your doorbell.

And now there’s nothing left to do but hit the gas, and go.

signature

Rose Decay wallpaper. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

Rose Decay wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

Moonlight Meadow wallpaper. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

Moonlight Meadow wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

Twisting Tulips wallpaper. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

Twisting Tulips wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

In 2013, there was an image.

Dark Floral wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

8 Beautiful Wallpapered Spaces

8 Beautiful Wallpapered Spaces

Hello, everyone! It’s Mari here with a guest post from Arcadian Home blog. It’s a fabulous place to find interior design inspiration including great decorating ideas for everything from beautiful modern pendant lighting to soft and cozy rugs for every room.

I’m so excited to be here with you today. I’ve been closely following The Wonder In Us, and Ellie’s adventure into wallpaper creation, for a while now. As you know, this uber talented artist has a passion for creating captivating wallpapers. I must admit I’m smitten by her designs and can’t wait to see her new website.

In the meanwhile, let’s distract ourselves with a little virtual tour of eight beautiful wallpapered spaces, beginning with Ellie’s gorgeous Dark Floral.

Please enjoy!

~ Mari

Wallpapered Space

Dark Floral is a beauty and it recently caused quite a stir on Pinterest as interior design and decor enthusiasts pinned and repinned, sending the image around the world. I’m sure this wallpaper will grace many elegant and formal rooms, but isn’t it stunning in a space with vintage modern furnishings?

Wallpapered Space

Also dark and beautiful but in an entirely different way, is this black trellis paper. Black modern pendant lights lined in glittering gold seem perfect for the space.

Wallpapered Space

With a black background, this pretty wallpaper has a Victorian feel and works beautifully in a tiny powder room.

Wallpapered Space

Graphic and colorful, this contemporary wallpaper seems just right for this traditional entry and stairway.

Wallpapered Space

Called Round & Round the Garden, this lovely paper by Australian interior designer Anna Spiro seems to have been inspired by artwork of the country’s indigenous peoples.

Wallpapered Space

What a great idea to apply Black Crow Studio’s Watercolor wallpaper to the ceiling of a nursery. The color and movement are wonderful. Wouldn’t this space be lovely with a trio of mini pendant lights hanging in one corner above a comfy rocking chair?

Wallpapered Space

Papering a cozy nook in a writer’s retreat with a delicate Brit Pop wallpaper by Elitis creates a great contrast of scale with the bold patterns surrounding it.

Wallpapered Space

This dream-like wallpaper pattern and colorful chairs are perfect together in this eclectic dining space.

We hope you enjoyed our brief look at a few of the diverse array of wallpapers seen around the design blog world today. Images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

What do you think of these wallpapered spaces? Leave us your thoughts below and come visit our website for more interior inspirations, home decor, and foyer lighting!

My Moonlight Meadow Wallpaper

My Moonlight Meadow Wallpaper

Last Friday’s post over at the VTWonen blog was dedicated to the color indigo.

VTW-style_000364jvds_cs_12-02

For those who aren’t familiar with it, VTWonen is a Dutch interiors magazine. The author of the post, Flory, called indigo a beautiful, natural color. The great thing about it, she said, is that this intense blue works with every interior. It’s fresh and basic combined with white, or a bit more classic combined with brown and gray.

vtw-inst-style_08659jvds_cs_11-05

I loved the styling by Cleo Scheulderman and Tjitske van Leeuwen (‘never dream alone’) and the photography by Jeroen van der Spek, an Amsterdam-based photographer and filmmaker.

I took the liberty of playing around with these images, and inserting one of my own designs (soon to be available from my web shop) as the backdrop. What do you think?

Before

vtw-inst-style_08669jvds_cs_11-05

After

vtwIndigoEllieCashmanMoonlightMeadow

I call this wallpaper Moonlight Meadow in Blue Ink (my term for indigo). It’s also available in Black and Warm Black.

Before

durf_TvLeeuwen_nov2009

After

vtwIndigoEllieCashmanMoonlightMeadow4

It’s a completely different style than the Dark Floral that has generated so much interest. But I’m really happy with it.

Before

vtw-inst-style_08643jvds_cs_11-05

After

vtwIndigoEllieCashmanMoonlightMeadow2

It’s loose, gestural and full of energy. I envision it used in restaurants, clubs, bathrooms, entryways, elevators, or other small spaces where a strong, graphic punch is the goal.

Before

VT__0091lemaire_barbaragroen

After

vtwIndigoEllieCashmanMoonlightMeadow3.1

As for the web shop: hang on, guys!! It really is almost there. I’ve just been consistently underestimating how long it takes to get the last details perfected. If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll get a heads up the moment it goes live!

And if you just can’t wait, get in touch at elliecashman@gmail.com as I am fulfilling orders prior to the site launch.

signature

 

Dutch Design Week: Graduate Projects

Dutch Design Week: Graduate Projects

So I’ve kept you in suspense about my trip to the Graduate Projects at the Design Academy Eindhoven, which was part of Dutch Design Week, October 19-27, 2013.

It’s now been a couple of weeks since my visit, and I’ve sorted through all the photos and take-away materials and narrowed it down to 2 favorite projects that I want to share with you here.

AutonomousMachines8

The first is a project called “Autonomous Machines” by Echo Yang. This project first caught my eye because it was beautiful.

AutonomousMachines4

A series of marks were laid out across a large pallet on the floor. You can see why a surface/pattern designer would be drawn to this display. There’s a lot of pattern, texture, color and form, not to mention relationships between the individual marks, all of which is visually pleasing.

AutonomousMachines2

Attached to the bottom edge of the pallet were three television screens showing different machines creating these marks using different media (ink, watercolor, pencil, paint, etc.).

AutonomousMachines6

I like the way these activities are described as “Experiments” and the scientific way that Echo went about documenting the process of making these marks. Is it a science project? Or an art project? Or a combination of the two? It also struck me as a bit funny and clever, the way each mark was “Drawn by” a particular machine. This automatically made the machines seem human. They were making art, expressing themselves. The tin toy chicken looked especially ridiculous doing this, but succeeded in creating a surprising variety of beautiful marks.

AutonomousMachines3

This project made me think about my use of machines/technology in my work. My computer, its software, my digital stylus and tablet are all tools over which I exert full intellectual/creative control. It’s fascinating to think that they might (someday) have ideas of their own. What will art look like when we start collaborating more, and in new ways, with machines? Will this art be valued more or less than art created solely by the human hand? Do you already have feelings about traditional or digital media, and one being superior to the other? What are the advantages of working digitally, in your eyes? What are the advantages of working traditionally?

My favorite project was called WeCollaborate, by Conor Trawinski.

WeCollaborate4

I think a platform for helping people realize their dreams is a fantastic invention. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

Just visiting a space like this (online or in person) would fill you with energy and inspiration.

WeCollaborate1

It was fascinating to read through this interactive board, which was full of original ideas. What if you could go to this site and find out that you are not the only person who really wants to build a playground for adults??

WeCollaborate2

I feel like I’m constantly coming up with new ideas, and then at some point I hit a wall. I realize I need help or support to make them happen, and (especially as a stranger in a strange land) I often don’t know where to go to get that help.

Finding a printer to produce my wallpaper is an example, or a photographer to photograph it. Now that I’ve found partners to help me with those things, I’d like to find another to help me produce textile products. Besides tapping my real life network, I’ve gotten great advice in the past few months by posting questions in the Association of Dutch Designers (BNO) Group on LinkedIn. Do you ever use LinkedIn to find collaborating partners or get advice from knowledgeable people in your field? Or do you have another good source for finding the information you need to make your ideas happen?

WeCollaborate3

Maybe WeCollaborate will become the one-stop-shop of the future, a household tool for anyone with a dream, with an idea of what they want to do but not how to do it. If we could all tap into this database to find partners who share our dreams, but bring different skills and backgrounds and talents to them, the world will become a much more fluid, imaginative place, don’t you think?

signature

P.S. Speaking of ideas coming to fruition, my web shop is in its final stages. Still working on the last module though, which will allow you to enter your wall measurements and get an instant, custom quote. As soon as that’s ready, we’ll be live! Can’t wait. Once again, if you’d like to be added to my mailing list and be notified when the shop goes live, please e-mail me at elliecashman@gmail.com.

 

Web shop launch

Web shop launch

So, last Friday I spent the afternoon getting a tour of my new web shop from the builders who have spent the last few months creating it for me. I hired ClickSite, a small company in ‘s Hertogenbosch, at the end of July, and they’ve done a fantastic job! They have been, as we Americans say – AWESOME!!

Here’s a sneak peek at how it’s going to look:

elliecashmanwebsite1

I’m so excited to launch the shop – maybe at the end of this week? Definitely by the beginning of the following week! Those of you who are on my mailing list will get an e-mail as soon as I have news. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, please e-mail me at elliecashman@gmail.com.

elliecashmanwebsite2

We’ll be adding the last finishing touch, the cherry on top, this week. It’s a module which allows you, the user, to enter in your wall measurements and receive an instant quote on the price of the wallpaper! I haven’t seen anything like this on wallpaper sites, and I think it’s super user friendly. Basically, we are going to be custom printing wallpaper to fit your exact measurements. You don’t have to buy pre-packaged boxes and have a lot of waste left over. Nope, you get only what you need.

Dark Floral

The shop initially includes 4 different designs (2 of them are available in several colors). So it’s a modest start. That being said, I’m really happy with all the designs. They are my ‘greatest hits’ from the last year or so (when I decided I wanted to focus on wallpaper) and I’ve spent hundreds of hours on each of them.

elliecashmantulipwallpaperblackblog

They all belong to a family and are at the same time very unique. I created them all using different techniques. Some started as graphite sketches and were then imported into Photoshop; some were painted entirely in Photoshop.

The styling and photography for the site was done by Ellen Mesu. I met Ellen about 2.5 years ago when she photographed Juliette for her first birthday. In that same session, she took the photo of me with Ruby and Juliette above and on the right. I love her aesthetic. It’s so different than mine. So minimalistic. She has a great eye for detail, proportions, composition. Her bread and butter is portrait photography, but she studied graphic design and worked in fashion. So, when I started thinking about having someone do styling and photography for my designs, I consulted her immediately. I knew she had the style I was looking for, and I thought she might be able to recommend someone. But, she did something even better! She offered to do the styling and photography herself! Her enthusiasm and her willingness to collaborate with me was a huge turning point for me. I’m not exaggerating when I say that that was the last push I needed to really go for it!

elliecashmanrosedecayblog

So, at the beginning of the summer, we met and talked about what kind of photographs we wanted to create. It was really helpful for me to talk about my work out loud with another creative person. What came out of that conversation is that my wallpaper is the result of my own personal journey, combining my childhood and young adult life in the US with the past (nearly) 7 years here in the Netherlands. I would describe the aesthetic that I was exposed to growing up in New England as a bit more classic/traditional, with wainscotting and Victorian details and warmth and coziness. Think Pottery Barn. When I first moved to the Netherlands and I saw how people were decorating their houses here I thought it was really depressing! So cold and stark and empty. Clean lines but NOT cozy at all. But in the last 7 years that aesthetic has begun to grow on me. No knobs, no handles, concrete floors … Some beautiful examples of this style can be found on the blogs April and May and The Style Files.

elliecashmanwallpapermoonlightmeadowblog

In the end, those are actually the kinds of spaces I see my wallpaper in! Those are the kinds of spaces where it works best. My wallpaper is so … present, shall we say? … that there can’t be a lot of other distraction in the room. Combine my wallpaper with minimalist, modern architecture and decor and it’s unexpected and even a bit edgy. It looks best behind Eames chairs and simple hanging bulb lamps, rescued industrial cabinets or exposed ventilation ducts … It’s wallpaper for the modern, eclectic decorator, who feels confident making his/her own choices and creating surprising combinations.

So that is what Ellen did when she got down to photographing in September. I’m so happy with the job she did. I feel it really sets the entire tone for the site, and the brand. And she gave me some brilliant suggestions too, like to try the tulips (which were originally on a white background) on a black background as well. So, many thanks to Ellen for a job well done!

And let’s hope we’re live by the end of the week!

signature

Dutch Design Week: Vlisco Unfolded

Dutch Design Week: Vlisco Unfolded

Oh boy, do I have a feast for surface-designing eyes to share with you today!

On Saturday, I visited the exhibit ‘Vlisco Unfolded’ at Dutch Design Week. A few months ago, I posted about Vlisco here.

If you’re not familiar with this company, I’ll tell you in a nutshell that they have been producing designer fabrics for the (West) African market for the last 167 years. Surprisingly, throughout their entire history they have been located in Helmond (a small suburb of Eindhoven) in the Netherlands! In any case, they possess (at this point) an unmatched understanding of the technological process (wax resist) and the aesthetic that appeal to this market. They are the self-proclaimed ‘Gucci of Africa’.

vlisco13

They collaborate with contemporary artists, illustrators and photographers to create stunningly beautiful advertising campaigns (like the ones you see above, overlooking the Septemberplein in Eindhoven, and below).

vlisco5

The above photograph was taken by Freudenthal en Verhagen for the ‘Jeu de Couleurs’ collection released earlier this year. If you’d like to see more, you can visit Vlisco’s Pinterest page, which they are using like a catalog with text and photos presenting the collection.

Vlisco exhibited at DDW for the first time this year. So, while they are an established institution, they are still seeking out new venues and wanting to educate a growing public about exactly what it is they do.

vlisco7

vlisco14

I was actually on my way to the Graduate Projects at the Design Academy Eindhoven when I literally stumbled upon Vlisco arrows (as pictured above) pointing me in the direction of their exhibit. They were posted on scaffolding and on the sidewalks along the Emmasingel. It was one of those happy accidents/dumb luck, where I found myself in the right place at the right time.

vlisco12

vlisco11

vlisco9

What I loved even more than seeing the finished products was getting a peek at several tables that were covered with pen and ink sketches. This insight into Vlisco’s creative process was fascinating! You can really imagine that the designers start with a simple motif, and then by decorating within the initial lines, and/or placing that motif on a textured background, and/or combining it with other related or complimentary motifs, achieve an amazingly complex result.

vlisco1

vlisco15

I also thought these tables were an incredible lesson in the creation of ‘collections.’ That is something that Michelle Fifis of Pattern Observer spends a lot of time teaching in her fantastic online courses. Her standpoint is that you can increase the value of a single design by creating coordinates for it. So, you end up with a main design and 2-3 supporting designs that relate in color or subject matter, for example, but differ in scale, level of complexity or layout.

vlisco17

Designing collections is a skill in and of itself! It is truly challenging. When it works, it really works, but striking the right balance of variation in color, scale, level of complexity, layout, etc. takes a LOT of practice. I think Amy Butler is a master at this. And I thought Vlisco’s sketch-strewn tables were examples of seemingly effortless successes in this respect! I’m not sure I would create the 4 designs pictured above with a plan to ever combine them, but there they are next to each other and I’m liking what I see!

Maybe because their complex designs are consistently built from the same basic marks – dots and lines, geometric shapes – they all seem part of a single family. In 167 years, they still haven’t exhausted the possibilities of these basic marks!

I think it’s truly an art to be able to create such complex designs and then on top of that, to be able to combine them into groups of 4 or 5 that truly vibrate, but in a harmonious way. To me, that is the craft that Vlisco has perfected.

The effect (below) is really disorienting. I can’t tell if this model is sitting or standing, if the space she’s in is two- or three-dimensional … But I’m digging it, though I might be feeling slightly dizzy!

vlisco19

This series of ads for ‘Jeu de Couleurs’ by Freudenthal en Verhagen makes me think of Gustav Klimt paintings.

gustav-klimt

He also surrounded the women whose portraits he painted with blocks of pattern and texture, each made up of geometric shapes, dots and lines, and tied together by similar color palettes.

Have you seen other artists/designers doing this in a successful way? What home/fashion brands create collections of designs that you think work especially well together?

Next time I’ll have a report on the Graduate Projects, as promised!

signature

 

Dutch Design Week: Nicolette Brunklaus

Dutch Design Week: Nicolette Brunklaus

Yesterday I got a preview of Dutch Design Week, which runs from 19 – 27 October this year. It takes place annually in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, which is a 19-minute train ride away from where I live.

After having such good luck taking Nathan to the Woonbeurs in Amsterdam at 6 weeks old (see previous post here), I thought I’d tote him along to DDW for a new dose of design inspiration!

nathandutchdesignweek

There he is waiting for his first NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen/Dutch Rail) train, with the Strijp-S location of DDW (a former Philips factory terrain) in the background.

Unfortunately we had to take the stroller this time, as Nathan has gone and grown 12 cm (about 5 inches) in 8 weeks and doesn’t fit as handily in his carrier anymore :( But he was still good company.

ellienathandutchdesignweek2

There we are at Strip-S, near the entrance to the Klokgebouw, where we sampled some great design. I’m planning to go back again this week to see what’s going on at Piet Hein Eek and of course to check out the Graduate Projects at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Can’t wait!

I attended the Graduate Projects a couple of years ago and was completely blown away by the quality of the work on display. The Design Academy has been called the best design school in the world. Its emphasis on engaging complex social and cultural issues has gained it an international reputation. Some of the projects are more conceptually compelling, some are more formally beautiful, some are just abstract and imaginative. But what they all have in common is that they are all conceived in the context of the world we live in, and as such attempt to answer a need or desire that you maybe didn’t even know you had. This year the theme is ‘Self Unself.’ Any idea what that could be about? I’ll be sure to report about it in my next post, as I’m planning to go solo on Saturday (sorry Nathan!) I just want to have all my concentration and wits about me to take in what is sure to be a great show!

But so far, the highlight of DDW for me has been discovering a designer named Nicolette Brunklaus.

nicolettebrunklausamsterdamddw

This was her display in the Klokgebouw, featuring her lamps, pillows, curtains and rugs. And what do you know? There is that palette of neutral grays and blacks with pops of bright yellow, which was also present at the Woonbeurs and which I talked about in my post Neutrals and Neon.

nicolettebrunklaus2

I’m a big fan of this ‘oak silk’ lamp, which she has in a hanging and a standing version. I’m definitely planning to add some printed fabrics and fabric products to my web shop (scheduled to launch in 2 weeks!) this year, so this inspired me. Beautiful printed fabrics combined with wood – a nice use of materials.

 

nbrunklausoaklamp

Isn’t the fluidity of the silk just gorgeous? So delicate. I can see these lamps in a stark, modern interior with brick and concrete on the walls and floors. They would give a space like that an immediate sense of softness, warmth and personality.

What do you think?

signature