[Chimayo table scarf, hand-woven wool tapestry, ca.1960's. Through Allan Arthur.]
Southwestern-inspired design is clearly back in vogue, but I think it's still hard for a lot of people to see textiles associated with the American Southwest and Mexico (Navajo rugs and blankets, Mexican serapes) without thinking of Southwestern theme rooms they've seen in the past.
[Detail, early-20th-century Navajo horse blanket, hand-woven wool. Through Allan Arthur.]
So, sometimes it's helpful to look at the textiles in isolation. Just study the graphic lines and colors, and pretend the horse blanket is a painting.
[Early-20th-century Navajo horse blanket, hand-woven wool. Through Allan Arthur.]
This approach opens up a whole new world of possibilities. In Atlanta, Allan Arthur has a range of vintage Pueblo and Rio Grande textiles, Mexican serapes, and Southwestern pieces that could be used to upholster a bench, or thrown over a sofa or a table. And of course he also has rugs.
This mid-century hand-woven wool Navajo rug resembles Op Art. Picture a pattern like this paired with a sleek lacquered bedside table or a glamorous traditional lamp. How about Southeast meets Southwest?
[Visit the Peabody Essex Museum to see Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel.]
And again there's Iris Apfel. Check out her fringed jacket, above, as seen in the Peabody Essex Museum video. Whether it relates to rooms or outfits, we hear so often about drawing upon diverse cultural influences that the advice can start to sound cliche. But Iris truly does this, mixing the Far East and West, with unique results.
In the Western epic, Giant, Elizabeth Taylor's character, Leslie, retains her polished East Coast style throughout the film, occasionally incorporating a nod to her new home state, Texas. A similar strategy could work in a room. In addition to textiles, Allan Arthur has a few colorful Plains beaded objects and vintage baskets-- just to jump-start your creative process.
[Eastern Woodlands basket, mid-20th-century. Okay, not Southwestern, but reportedly represents Native American work. Through Allan Arthur.]
[Shifting to the Southeast: Cherokee oriole basket, North Carolina, 20th century. Through Allan Arthur.]
[Choctaw work basket, Mississippi, first quarter 20th century. Through Allan Arthur.]
For more Navajo eye candy, I like to explore Ralph Lauren's Gift Vault. The circa 1880 Navajo saddle blanket, above, has been sold but its graphic design is endlessly inspiring.
I love how the RL team describes Indian Man In High-Top Sneakers, a framed photograph from the Gift Vault (also now sold), as culture connecting.